Celebrating National Breastfeeding Month

August marks an important time for breastfeeding mothers. Not only is the first week of August World Breastfeeding Week, the month as a whole is designated National Breastfeeding Month, a time for people to educate themselves on the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child.

Certain circumstances may prevent mothers from being able to breastfeed — and, of course, the most important thing is that a child is loved and nourished, no matter if by mother’s milk or formula. Still, we think it’s important to acknowledge what makes breastfeeding so healthy!

Read on for some benefits of breastfeeding as well as some steps mothers should take to ensure their breast milk is the very best for their babies.

Why Breast is Considered Best

Protection from IllnessBreastfeeding

Countless studies point to the fact that breastfeeding lowers the prevalence of ear infections, stomach bugs, lower respiratory infection, and meningitis in infants. If these illnesses do occur, they are less severe in breastfed babies. This protection is most pronounced when infants are exclusively breastfed — meaning they are offered no solids, formula, or water — for the first 6 months.

 

How does breastmilk protect against illness? A mother’s milk is tailored to her child, because mom’s body responds to environmental pathogens and secretes immunoglobulin A (IgA) in response to those pathogens. But the protection extends beyond the breastfeeding relationship, too, reducing risk of childhood cancers, type 1 and 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol, perhaps due to immune-boosting antibodies.

Lower Stress & Postpartum Depression Risk

Benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond the infant to the mother, too! According to studies reviewed by the National Institutes of Health , women who do not breastfeed or who prematurely stop breastfeeding increase their risks of postpartum depression.

Researchers think this is because breastfeeding causes a happy hormone, oxytocin, to release, helping the mother to relax. Breastfeeding mothers were found to have high amounts of oxytocin as compared to bottle-feeding mothers.

Mothers: Keep Your Infant Safe When Breastfeeding

While breastfeeding has many advantages, it’s important to note that the foods, drinks, and substances a mother ingests are passed to the infant in her breastmilk. This means that it’s particularly important for breastfeeding moms to watch what they put in their bodies, just as they do during pregnancy.

Here are some of the substances that mothers should avoid when breastfeeding:

  • Alcohol. It’s recommended that breastfeeding or pumping mothers wait for 2 hours after finishing a drink to nurse or pump so that their blood alcohol level can stabilize. Mothers who wish to indulge can pump and save milk for baby’s consumption or time drinks appropriately so that the BAC can return to a normal level before nursing resumes.
  • Nicotine. Since nicotine is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, it easily transfers into breastmilk and remains there for around 97 minutes. In addition to absorbing the nicotine through milk, infants can absorb it and the other 2000 byproducts of cigarette smoke through the air. Smoking can also reduce lactation in mothers, lower the length of breastfeeding, and even predict if a woman is likely to breastfeed. Nicotine ingestion via breastmilk can also cause vomiting and diarrhea, restlessness, and increased heart rate.

 

 

  • Drugs of abuse. Marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs of abuse should all be avoided during breastfeeding. Higher levels of THC (the active component found in marijuana) are present in breastmilk, and high levels of THC can be absorbed via passive smoking. Heroin passes into breastmilk and can cause respiratory issues, vomiting, irritability, and sedation if ingested by the infant.

ARCpoint Labs nationwide are equipped to provide testing of any substance, including a mother’s breastmilk. If you suspect a mother is abusing drugs or alcohol when nursing, you may be able to test the breastmilk so that you can prevent health issues in the infant and get the mother the treatment she needs. For more information on our services, contact your closest ARCpoint Labs today!

 

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