Nursing mother – what is allowed and what is not?
What Should You Avoid While Breastfeeding?
Feed for health!
So what is allowed for a nursing mother and what is not?
Doctor Marek Kwiecień answers the questions frequently asked to our doctors: One of the many privileges and unique aspects of motherhood is undoubtedly the period of breastfeeding. I will try to clarify the most frequent dilemmas of women concerning what is allowed and what is contraindicated, and also help to distinguish lactation myths from the truth.
According to the latest WHO data, taking into account the unique value of human milk and the natural processes related to human nutrition, it is recommended that infants be fed only with mother’s milk up to the sixth month of life. Breastfeeding continued until the age of two and supplemented with local food products was considered the most appropriate for the proper development of the child.
The specific nature of breast milk derives from its composition and, although its main role is to provide nourishment, due to the components it contains, in addition to its building function, it is also essential for the development, maturation and functioning of the baby’s immune system.
It has also been proven that breastfeeding for at least six months significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer in women and protects against osteoporosis. It is worth mentioning that mothers who breastfed for more than 9 months less often develop: atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and complications of these diseases, e.g. heart attacks. So what is allowed and what is not:
DIET, DRINKS, STIMULANTS.
The mother’s body uses the reserves accumulated during pregnancy to produce milk, therefore no strict slimming diet, fasting or taking preparations that wonderfully speed up weight loss are recommended during lactation. It is enough to give up high-calorie products, unhealthy snacks, sweet drinks and fast-food dishes. A woman’s body uses 700 kcal per day to produce milk! Therefore, the diet should be as varied as possible, rich in whole grains such as groats, cereals, brown bread, vegetables, fruit, protein from meat and fish, and dairy products. If there is no allergy in your family, there is no need to prophylactically use a diet that eliminates e.g. milk or eggs. Only when you notice any adverse reactions in your child, you should exclude the suspected allergen (milk, chocolate, tomato, nuts, fish, etc.) from your diet. The same goes for spices, flatulent foods, and bubble drinks – food is made from your blood, not directly from what you eat. Many toddlers tolerate very well what their mother ate their entire pregnancy – whether it is Indian curry, which is the staple of the diet in India, Japanese sushi, or our local garlic. It is best to introduce controversial products one at a time and observe the child’s reactions.
Remember to drink a lot of water, juices, green tea, red tea, grain coffee) and limit only strong coffee, tea or cola. You can have one coffee per day, the so-called “real one”, preferably right after feeding your baby. From time to time you can drink a glass of wine, but also right after feeding and wait a few hours until the next latching on to the baby, and it’s best to check with an on-line calculator how long the alcohol has been metabolized. But give up smoking completely!
SPORT, SAUNA, SOLARIUM
Breastfeeding is not a contraindication to practising amateur sports – so you can choose from many activities such as fitness, jogging, zumba or swimming as soon as the puerperium is over. Only competitive sports and professional athletics involving high effort can inhibit food production. So take care of a sports bra that supports your bust and let’s go! There are also no medical contraindications for using the sauna or solarium during lactation, you only need to remember to replenish fluids on a regular basis and take care of your clothes after going out to avoid infection, as well as moderate use of tanning beds, so as not to destroy the already strained enlarged mammary gland of elastic tissue and skin of the breast.
A visit to a hairdresser, spa or beauty salon is a great way to relax, which you should absolutely not give up while feeding – so you can dye your hair, extend eyelashes or polish your nails, depilate the body with wax or cream without stress. There are no contraindications for aesthetic medicine treatments such as microdermabrasion or laser treatments, including permanent hair removal. Overlay teeth whitening and deep peelings made with medical acids should be avoided.
It should be noted that breastfeeding does not protect against pregnancy, although it initially reduces the likelihood of pregnancy. Therefore, you should not forget to use an effective method of contraception so that you can enjoy your intimate life again after the 6th week of postpartum.
Among the contraceptive methods available for nursing women, we can choose between mechanical and chemical means – such as condoms or spermicidal globules, hormonal tablets, injections or subcutaneous gestagen implants that do not disturb lactation, as well as classic intrauterine devices and those with a small dose of hormones. Your gynaecologist will help you decide on the best way to protect yourself from pregnancy during the first postpartum visit.
It is not true that you cannot take any medications while you are breastfeeding. There are many safe preparations from among painkillers, antibiotics and others that allow for treatment and continuation of feeding at the same time. This applies, for example, to paracetamol or penicillin-derived antibiotics, as well as many topical agents, however, always consult a doctor before starting pharmacological therapy.
I hope that by clearing some doubts, I managed to encourage all mums to take advantage of this gift of nature, which is the possibility of breastfeeding, and that the best I can do is to wish the ladies – Feeding for health! quoting O.W. Holmes, who once asserted that:
„A pair of mammary glands in the art of fluid composition for children has an advantage over a pair of cerebral hemispheres of the most learned professor ”.