Breastfeed your baby fully for the first few months and completely avoid supplementary feeding – many new moms have this one wish. Other women, on the other hand, are unable to breastfeed or make a conscious decision not to give their child the breast. What are the advantages of breastfeeding, and when is it better not to breastfeed? Tikbow spoke with a midwife about this sensitive topic.
As a mom with a newborn, you want to do everything right, while at the same time releasing an incredible amount of emotions. For many women, the introduction of milk and the start of breastfeeding are a real challenge. It’s something you often imagined quite differently during pregnancy and can cause enormous stress during the postpartum period. In fact, breastfeeding has many health benefits for both the mother and the baby.
Protection against diabetes
According to the European Institute for Breastfeeding and Lactation (EISL), breast milk contains many immunologically important components that are only passed on to the child through the breast during direct breastfeeding. If, on the other hand, the milk is pumped, this microbiome is altered, according to a 2019 report. According to EISL, children who are breastfed have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes or leukemia.
But breastfeeding is more than just taking in food, it promotes the mother-child bond, says Julia Ronnenberg. The blogger and mother of two has been a midwife for more than 15 years. "Mother and child become very close through the close contact, the baby can better perceive mom’s smell on bare skin", says Ronnenberg. But the experienced midwife also emphasizes: "Of course, this does not mean that a woman who cannot or does not want to breastfeed cannot give her child the same love."
Breastfeeding burns 500 calories
Those who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer later, according to EISL. Breastfeeding also has other benefits, however, because it contributes to weight reduction and faster fertility development, says Julia Ronnenberg. "Many women have a few kilos more on the scales after giving birth. Through breastfeeding, a woman consumes about 500 calories more per day. Many women get rid of their excess pounds in this way alone;
Breastfeeding also releases the hormone oxytocin, which triggers so-called afterpains. Although these are not very pleasant, they cause the mother to quickly return to her original size,” says the midwife. The uterus normally resembles a pear, but during pregnancy it can grow to the size of a medicine ball. Breastfeeding normally restores the uterus to its original size within ten to 14 days after birth. This process often takes longer for women who do not breastfeed,” explains the midwife. "That’s because fewer oxytocins are released in them."
I have breastfed two children myself, one of them for far longer than a year. I didn’t lose a single gram of weight, on the contrary: I was insanely hungry, ate a lot and only got rid of the pregnancy kilos long after weaning. Nevertheless: I loved breastfeeding my babies and not being dependent on bottle warmers & co. At the same time, I completely understand when women decide against it – because they are afraid of pressure, frustration and pain, because the mother-child dependency is simply too much for them or because they want to involve their partner more in the care right from the start.
Trixi, Editor Tikbow
When not to breastfeed
"There are only a few reasons why women should not breastfeed", says Julia Ronnenberg. "Anyone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol should not breastfeed, as it can harm the child’s development." Smokers should consult with their doctor. Caution is also advised with some medications.
Ronnenberg’s tip: "Women can get an initial overview of whether the drug they are taking is compatible with breastfeeding on the Embryotox.de website of the Charité s Advisory Institute for Drug Safety in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. " There, for example, breastfeeding with simultaneous acceptance of the ADHD drug atomoxetine is assessed as "critical". At the same time, however, it is important to the midwife to take the pressure off breastfeeding; no woman should feel bad if she – for whatever reason – does not give her baby the breast: "A ‚good‘ mother does not make out whether she breastfeeds her baby or not. The most important thing is that both baby and mother are doing well", Ronneberg said.
– with expert advice from midwife Julia Ronnenberg.
European Institute for Breastfeeding and Lactation (EISL)