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23 Advantages Of Breastfeeding For You And Your Baby

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Congratulations on the little baby and for your decision to breastfeed!

It is true that breast milk is one of the best sources of nutrition for your infant and its benefit cannot be replaced by any other food. The pros of breastfeeding can outweigh the cons!

Experts believe that breastfeeding is the best gift you can give to your child for better health and development. There are some substances that are found only in mother’s milk and those cannot be obtained from any other food source. These are very important for your baby’s health and play a vital role in immunity build up.

In order to breastfeed your baby, you have to make several lifestyle changes and follow a proper schedule of feeding.

3 Advantages Of Breastfeeding:

Nowadays, many mothers are opting for breastfeeding due to its various benefits for their babies as well for themselves. What’s good for your baby is good for you too and when you follow nature’s course for feeding, you benefit your body too. For your ease we have divided the advantages of breast feeding in three major segments, namely:

  1. Breastfeed Benefits To Your Baby In Early Life:
  2. Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Your Baby in Later Life:
  3. Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Mother:

1. Breastfeed Benefits To Your Baby In Early Life:

Here are the many benefits that breastfeeding provides to your baby in early life:

1. Nutrition:

  • Breast milk gives ideal nutrition to your baby as it contains right balance of protein, fat, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins.
  • Your breast milk production also changes to meet your growing baby’s requirement of food.
  • It is easier for your baby to digest when compared with the formula milk.

2. Early Protection:

  • Breast milk contains vital antibodies which are rarely found anywhere.
  • These antibodies help prevent several diseases and also help ward off development of many allergies.
  • After birth, production of first milk called ‘Colostrum’ helps provide your baby early protection.
  • It prevents growth of destructive bacteria as it coats the digestive system of your baby.
  • It is also seen that breast-fed babies are more resistant to infections and diseases early in life compared to formula-fed babies.
  • It helps strengthen the immune system of your baby.

3. Reduced Diarrhea:

  • Babies who are breast-fed have three times less issues of diarrhea than those who are formula-fed.
  • There are more chances of infections when your baby consumes milk from bottle because sometimes the bottle might not be cleaned properly.
  • On the contrary, breast milk is absolutely safe and there are no chances of infections.

4. Less Ear infections:

  • There are increased chances of ear-infections in babies who take formula and they may also encounter recurrent ear-infections.
  • This infection can cause your baby to undergo multiple courses of antibiotics.
  • It also reduces your baby’s immunity.

5. Reduced Risk of SIDS:

  • Researchers have revealed that there are less chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in babies who are breast-fed.
  • If you breast feed your baby, there would be less problems of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, thus lowering the risk of SIDS.

6. Reduced Respiratory Illnesses:

  • There are less cases of respiratory problems in a baby who is breast-fed, while it is more commonly found in those who are on a formula feed.
  • There are three times greater chances of a baby on formula being hospitalized due to acute respiratory problems than a baby who is on breast feed.

7. Best Development Of Brain:

  • It is also established through studies that babies who are breast-fed have good IQ.
  • Such babies may be able to solve various puzzles and problems very early in life.

8. Bonding With Mother:

  • Breastfeeding enhances closeness and comfort.
  • It helps strengthen the bonding between your baby and you.
  • Your baby feels safe in your arms and knows that you are around.

2. Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Your Baby In Later Life:

Here are the many benefits that breastfeeding provides to your baby in later life:

9. Reduced Dental Problems:

  • Kids who are breast-fed develop less dental issues when they grow old.
  • They have less dental cavities throughout their lives.

10. Reduced Risk Of Childhood Cancer:

  • Studies show that babies who are breast-fed have reduced risk of childhood cancer which may happen less than 15 years of age.
  • Babies who are bottle-fed have eight times higher risk of such cancers than those who are breast-fed for the first year of their life.

11. Reduced Diabetes Problems:

  • There are 35% less chances of babies developing childhood insulin-dependent diabetes as compared to those who are bottle-fed.
  • There are substances found in your feed which is not found anywhere in nature and that helps reduce this risk in your baby.

12. Reduced Heart Diseases:

  • There are less cases of developing higher blood pressure in babies who consume their mother’s feed.
  • If you breast feed your baby during the first six months, you will reduce chances of heart diseases too which may happen later in life.

13. Enhanced Cognitive Skills:

  • Babies who are breast-fed develop fewer behavioral, psychological and learning problems when they grow older.
  • Their cognitive skills are also found to be increased compared to those who are formula-fed.

14. Reduced Obesity:

  • Babies who take mother’s feed have reduced risk of obesity in later life.
  • This risk can be increased by 20 to 30 percent, if you feed formula your baby.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that it would be best if you breastfeed for the first year of your baby’s life. Your baby should be well nourished by breast milk at least for the first six months. After six months, slow introduction of iron rich foods would be complementary along with breastfeed till the completion of first year.

When your baby is breast-fed without any supplements during the first six months, it reduces the risk of food contamination due to adulterated water or malnutrition caused due to over-diluted milk formula. Hence, it is advised by doctors to avoid any kind of liquids such as water, sweetened water, juices, honey or formula, unless there is any medical emergency. Moreover, your feed is rich enough to sustain your baby’s first six months and should follow according to his or her diet throughout the second half of first year of life.

3. Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Mother:

Breastfeeding not only helps your baby to grow into a better child, but it also helps you in various ways:

15. Emotional Satisfaction:

Many women get a feel of satisfaction and delight from the physical and emotional communion while nursing their babies.

Prolactin: A hormone which is produced in the body augments these feelings and produces a nurturing sensation allowing you to focus on your baby.

Oxytocin: Another important hormone which is produced during feeding helps promote an intense feeling of love and attachment with your baby.

16. Reduces Risk Of Breast Cancers:

There are studies which show that women who feed their babies encounter reduced rates of breast cancer later in their life.

Breastfeeding mothers can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 25%. The reduced risk comes in proportion to total duration of breastfeeding during a woman’s life.

This implies the more number of months or a year a mother feeds, the reduced the risk of breast cancer.

17. Reduces Osteoporosis:

  • Breastfeeding helps prevent weak bones later in life and this risk is four times higher in non-breastfeeding women.
  • Non-breastfeeding women will also develop risk of hip bone fractures in their post-menopausal period.

18. Reduced Risk Of Ovarian Cancer:

  • Breastfeeding mothers have low risk of ovarian cancer.
  • The reason is that during lactation, there are low levels of estrogen.
  • The reduced level of estrogen provides less stimulation to the lining of uterus and breast tissues too, thus reduces the chances of these tissues becoming cancerous.

19. Reduces Post-Partum Issues:

  • Breastfeeding women recover more quickly and easily from the childbirth.
  • Hormones, like oxytocin,helps uterus to return to its normal state more quickly and also reduces post-partum bleeding.
  • Feeding your baby also helps in delaying the menstrual cycle, ultimately helps extend the period between pregnancies.
  • It helps in gradual weight-loss which was gained during pregnancy.

20. Convenient:

  • Breastfeed is just simple to offer your baby at night and at times when bottle feed is not possible to prepare.
  • Mother’s milk is always safe, fresh and at perfect temperature, thus, feeding anytime is hassle-free as there is no need to heat it, or boil or sterilize the bottles.
  • It is also easy to take your baby on an outing or on longer trips if you are breastfeeding without worrying to carry a bag full of feeding equipment.

21. Easy On Budget:

  • There are several economic benefits of breastfeeding your baby.
  • It costs nothing and also prevents medical bills later as it assists your baby in preventing infections and diseases.
  • You will just need an extra 400 to 500 calories per day to produce sufficient milk for your baby.
  • If you buy formula, it will cost you depending upon the brand you buy to feed your baby.

22. Easy For Working Women:

  • If you are a feeding mother and planning to go to work, it is still possible for your baby to receive all the breastfeeding benefits.
  • You can express milk with a breast pump or simply by hands and handover to your caretaker.
  • If you have put your baby in a daycare near your office, you can feed your baby during breaks.

23. Environment Friendly:

  • Breastfeed is just good for the environment as you do not need to throw empty cans and there is absolutely no need of bottle washing.
  • Human milk is produced and delivered directly to the consumer – your baby. Thus, it is pollution less and hassle-free.

There are studies which reveal that apart from above discussed benefits, breastfeeding mothers also have reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, type-2 diabetes and several cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and raised cholesterol.

Thus, feeding your baby is full of benefits and keeping aside these benefits, many mothers feed their babies to satisfy their feeling of motherhood. Some mothers will feed until their babies turn two years or two and a half years old. It is also found in studies that breastfeed is always good for a growing baby, so there is no harm in extended feeding. The longer you feed your baby, the greater benefits your baby will get.

4 Disadvantages Of Breastfeeding:

There are no such disadvantages of breastfeeding, but of course, it can be stressful for a few early days after birth:

1. Early Learning To Feed:

Your baby does not know how to latch on a breast and being a new mother, you may not know how to feed. It takes few days of practice and then all becomes fine.

  • You may also find it too difficult as the feed does not come out in sufficient quantities, but it will come out as your baby learns to latch on it properly and suck it.
  • The more your baby sucks, the more milk will start coming out.
  • Take proper care of your diet during feeding and let your baby enjoy the goodness of milk which will be the best thing for your daring in life.

2. Sore Nipples:

In early days of breastfeeding when both you and baby are striving, there can be issues of sore nipples as your baby will not latch properly.

  • When your infant starts sucking properly, sore nipples problem will not be seen anymore. This problem can be tackled by exposing the nipples to air.
  • You can also use hair dryer on a low setting.
  • Alcohol, soap, benzoin or wet towel should not be used to clean the nipples.
  • Clean it with water only and never use petroleum based cosmetic products to treat it.
  • You can get relief from cracked nipples by applying non-medicated lanolin.

3. Clogged Milk Ducts:

Sometimes in early days of feeding, there can be formation of tender lumps in the breast which can be painful too.

  • This can happen because milk ducts get clogged with dried milk.
  • To get relief from clogged ducts, you have to increase the feeding sessions and offer the affected breast first to your baby.
  • You have to empty your breasts. You can also express milk by hands or breast pump.
  • If the problem still persists, you can apply moist heat packs on the affected area to increase the blood flow.
  • Massaging the affected part or a warm shower can also help.

4. Feeding In Public:

You may be too hesitant to feed in public and thus, feel uneasy. You can find feeding rooms in malls and several other places where you can breastfeed your hungry baby without any disturbance.

Sure breastfeeding is a lot of exercise, but with its multiple advantages for both you and your baby; don’t let it discourage you from giving baby the best beginning in life!

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Baby Breastfeeding

Is It Safe To Take Caffeine While Breastfeeding?

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Giving in to all your food cravings can be an issue when you are breastfeeding because what goes into your diet goes into your breast milk too. Not all foods that you have may end up in the breast milk, but most do. Caffeine is one such food that is craved for by a lot of women. It is a part of many day-to-day foods that is debated upon for its safety and consumption when you are breastfeeding.

As per the guidelines from Medications and Mother’s Milk, caffeine falls under the Lactation Risk Category L2 (safer) category. It was classified as a ‘Maternal Medication Usually Compatible with Breastfeeding’ by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In fact, caffeine has been directly given as treatment for breathing problems in premature babies for years, that too in much higher amounts compared to what is found in the breastmilk! MomJunction helps you understand all about caffeine and breastfeeding, how much to take and when to avoid.

Does Caffeine Affect Breast Milk?

Yes, caffeine gets into breast milk! Once you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine is rapidly absorbed into your blood, and diffuses passively across the epithelial layers of the mammary glands. But, very low levels (less than 1% of what is consumed) may end up in the breast milk and clinically significant amount of caffeine is not found. Caffeine appears in the milk within 15 minutes of intake, while the concentration levels would be at its peak after an hour (1).

Dr. SK Gambhir of Paras Bliss hospital in Delhi says that the effect on breast milk stays for a maximum of 120 minutes.

Are Babies Sensitive To Caffeine Intake Of Nursing Mother?

Some babies, especially those under six months of age, may be sensitive to mother’s caffeine intake. More reactions can be observed in nursing infants whose mothers entirely avoided caffeine during pregnancy (2).

Caffeine may get accumulated in breastfeeding babies if their mothers consume high amounts and can cause irritability, insomnia, and constipation. The accumulation is due to the inability of the baby’s body to break down and eliminate caffeine.

Newborns take more time to metabolize caffeine compared to older infants because of their immature liver and kidneys. Preterm or sick infants may also have problems because of their inability to metabolize caffeine.

Age Group Half Life (Hours)
Premature neonates (3-32 days) 102.9
Term neonates (0-4 days) 80.0
Young Infants
1-2 1/2 Months 26.3
3-4 1/2 Months 14.2
5-6 Months 2.6
Adults
Non Smokers 6.0
Smokers 3.5

 

*Half-Life is the time taken for a substance to become half inside a human body.

Even though babies show sensitivity to caffeine, it may disappear as they grow older. Babies will begin to process caffeine more efficiently at about three months of age (3), and it would become much easier over time. By the time the baby is nine months old, he would develop the ability to eliminate caffeine at the same rate as you do!

How Much Caffeine Can You Have While Breastfeeding?

According to Dr. SK Gambhir, a breastfeeding mother needs to limit her caffeine intake to less than 300mg a day.

An acceptable amount of caffeine while breastfeeding varies based on factors like baby’s health, age, and tolerance levels. Moreover, caffeine is diuretic and causes dehydration, and it is important to be hydrated particularly while nursing. Thus, it is advisable to limit caffeine consumption while breastfeeding with not more than two or three cups of tea, coffee, or caffeine beverage each day (4).

In the US, not more than 200mg caffeine a day is recommended for breastfeeding mothers. It comes to about two mugs of tea or one mug of filter coffee or two mugs of instant coffee, a day. NHS recommends that you have caffeine drinks occasionally, rather than every day, if your baby is young.

As per the Breastfeeding Answer Book, caffeine consumption of over 750 mg per day by nursing mothers may result in babies showing signs of caffeine stimulation, such as:

  • wakefulness
  • fussiness
  • activeness
  • alertness
  • wide-eyed
  • less sleep hours
  • colic

Ways To Decrease Caffeine Stimulation

If you observe signs of caffeine stimulation in your baby, avoid caffeine for two to three weeks and check the difference. Reintroduce to observe if the baby shows irritability.

Few ways to decrease caffeine stimulation are:

  • Limiting the consumption of caffeine while nursing
  • Spreading the coffee intake over the course of the day
  • Breastfeeding before or after an hour of caffeine ingestion or pumping breast milk
  • Monitoring the baby’s reaction when exposed or withdrawn from caffeine consumption
  • Taking few glasses of water after caffeine consumption to dilute its effect in the body

**If you consider caffeine withdrawal as a way to soothe your fussy baby, make it happen gradually. Abrupt withdrawal may give you a headache, anxiety, fatigue, and depression.

Does Caffeine Decrease Breast Milk Supply?

No research or evidence supports the myth that caffeine decreases milk supply in nursing mothers. In fact, a study indicated that caffeine does not change breast milk composition, and rather, stimulates milk production (5). Even if the decreased milk supply is observed in few cases, it could be due to the decreased nursing of fussy babies, rather than the caffeine intake.

However, few studies suggests that the chronic caffeine ingestion could lessen the iron content in milk, which may lead to mild iron deficiency or anemia in some breastfed infants.

When Should Nursing Mothers Completely Avoid Caffeine?

If you are a nursing mother having a Raynaud’s phenomenon, a circulatory disorder, avoid caffeine. The condition is due to the constriction of blood vessels, which leads to lesser blood flow. It even affects your nipples and the constriction worsens with caffeine, ending up in painful breastfeeding.

Caffeine consumption may affect a nursing mother’s let-down reflex (the milk ejection reflex from the breasts), in case of nipple vasospasm.

What Are Different Caffeine Sources?

Caffeine can be found in:

  • coffee
  • soft drinks
  • tea
  • sports, energy drinks
  • chocolate
  • few prescription medicines
  • over-the-counter medications for cold, headache, and allergy remedies
  • coffee ice cream
  • herbal products containing kola nut/cola nitida, guarana/paullinea cupana, yerba mate, or green tea

Caffeine Content In Common Drinks

Drinks Caffeine Level (mg)
Coffee, Brewed(8 oz) >80-135
Coffee, Instant(8 oz) >65-100
Tea, iced(8 oz) 47
Tea, brewed, imported brands (avg.)(8 oz) 60
Tea, green(8 oz) 15
Hot cocoa(8 oz) >14
Dark chocolate (1 oz) >20 mg
Diet Coke(12 oz) 45.6
Red Bull (8.2 oz) >80.0

Source:

A nursing mother can enjoy caffeinated drinks and foods without any concern, as long as it is within a limit. In case the baby shows discomfort, it is better to seek a doctor’s advice and chalk out the caffeine consumption plans.

FAQs

Q. What Can I Have Instead Of Caffeine Drinks?

A. A great option would be to have decaffeinated products like coffee free from caffeine, decaffeinated green tea, or herbal tea. You could also have flavored water with a slice of lime or lemon, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, no-added-sugar squashes. Instead of cocoa or hot chocolate rich in caffeine, go for a hot malt drink.

Q. How Many Cups Of Coffee Are Okay Each Day?

A. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not more than three cups daily, while La Leche League considers five cups of coffee while breastfeeding each day to be safe.

Q. How To Limit Caffeine Intake Through Coffee Or Tea?

A. Opting for espresso drinks like lattes or instant coffee, which have less caffeine than the regular brewed coffee would be better. Take a tea that is brewed for less time or tea bag steeped in water for a lesser time.

Q. Are Energy Drinks Containing Caffeine, Safer During Breastfeeding?

A. It is advisable to cut down on energy drinks altogether as they are loaded with caffeine.

Q. Is Coffee Bean Extract Safe For Nursing Mothers?

A. Green coffee bean extract is a herbal, homeopathic product helpful in lowering the blood pressure and body weight. Even though no study talks about the safety of the product for a breastfeeding mother, it is important to note few points before going ahead.

Green coffee bean extract contains caffeine if it comes in dosages of 43 mg, 93 mg, or 185 mg.  The higher the dosage, the more the caffeine. Opt for low dosage product or avoid caffeine if your baby shows reactions against it.

Moms share your experiences about consuming caffeine during breastfeeding here. How addicted or not were you?

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4 Amazingly Different Ways You Can Use Fenugreek During Your Lactation Period

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Mommies, who are concerned about how to increase breast milk, need not worry, as Fenugreek can rescue you. Fenugreek has been used popularly as a spice of an herb for ages. It is known to induce labor and also assist in childbirth.

Fenugreek seeds can be a safe answer for you as well as your baby for increasing breast milk. How?

Fenugreek For Breast Milk Production:

When it comes to increasing your milk supply, it is always better to try the non-pharmaceutical measures first. The herbal medicines will have lesser side effects compared to the prescribed medicines to increase breast milk supply. Here we shall explore the link between fenugreek and breast milk production:

  • Mothers should have noted that they find increase in milk production after 24-72 hours of taking fenugreek.
    • You need to take around 3,500 mg of fenugreek in the form of pills, seeds or herb to see the effect. With regular intake, you can slowly find increase in your milk production. After some time, you can see your urine and sweat beginning to smell like maple syrup. You must try alternative methods, if in case you face any discomforts.
  • Per Kathleen Huggins says, “Most mothers have found that the herb can be discontinued once milk production is stimulated to an appropriate level. Adequate production is usually maintained as long as sufficient breast stimulation and emptying continues.”

Different Ways You Can Use Fenugreek For Increasing Breast Milk:

Fenugreek can be taken in different ways during your lactation period. Here are some possibilities:

1. Tea: You can add around 3 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in a cup of water and bring it to boil to make the tea. You can have this around three times a day.

2. Capsules: The seeds are available in the form of capsules as well. You need to consult your lactating doctor about the doses. You can begin with three capsules a day, and then increase it slowly till your urine smells like maple syrup.

3. Sprout The Seeds: This is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to take fenugreeks. Soak the seeds in a clean glass of water and do not disturb them for around 5 days. You can see the sprouts after few days. You can add them to your salad.

4. Fenugreek Powder: Fenugreek can be taken in the form of powder. You can mix a teaspoon of it with fruit juice and take them daily. Discontinue its use if you experience muscle cramps.

Be Careful Of The Side Effects:

You must consult with your herbal specialist or lactation doctor to know if your baby is exposed to any sorts of dangers when you take fenugreek daily. Here is a list of side effects that you should be careful while taking fenugreek for breast milk supply:

  • Fenugreek seeds induce labor, and thus it is suggested that you avoid them in pregnancy.
  • If you notice any allergic reactions, inform it to the doctor. You may be allergic to fenugreek if you have allergies from peanuts or soy.
  • If you begin with heavy doses of fenugreek, it might lead to diarrhea. The herb also passes through your breast milk and your baby might develop diarrhea as well. Thus, it is important that you start with the small dose and then increase the intake slowly.
  • See if your urine, sweat and breast milk smells like maple syrup. You must inform your baby’s doctor about your fenugreek intake.

Remember:

  • You must consult your doctor in case you feel you are not producing enough milk, despite trying different measures.
  • Your lactating consultant may suggest you to take fenugreek to augment your milk supply.
  • Make sure you are starting with a small dose to keep away the side effects.
  • You must follow the advice of your doctor at every step. This will free your mind from all concerns like if you are harming your baby in any way.

Let us know if fenugreek helped you to augment your breast milk production in the comment section below.

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