Pregnancy and motherhood are the most cherished phases of a woman's life. Right from receiving the news of the pregnancy to the time the baby is born, every moment is precious. The news about conceiving, the sonography images, the sounds of the heartbeat, the subtle kicks in the tummy, the intensive cravings and then, finally, holding the baby in your loving embrace, is a lovely journey every woman enjoys going through. Once the baby is born, breastfeeding her child is one of the most satisfying experiences of being a mom. An infant suckling happily is an image that every woman carries deep in her heart.
Right from the moment the baby is conceived to the time she is born, the to-be mother frets about her unborn child. Once the child is born, a new set of concerns roll in. All mothers worry about how healthy and active her baby is, the growth rate and milestones, when and how does the baby eat, sleep, talk or walk... everything is on the mother’s be-aware-of list.
One more much talked about topic for a pregnant woman or a new mother is ‘breastfeeding’. Breastmilk is called the most healthy food for a child's growth. The mother’s milk during the initial growing stages of an infant holds a number of benefits to the child. Breastfeeding helps the child’s immunity get strong. It increases IQ, lowers the risk of chronic diseases, reduces the risk of breast cancer for the mother, creates a strong mother-child connection and a lot more.
There are certain practices that may damage a mother’s milk production while she is still pregnant and when she is lactating. Let's take a look at 15 of the most common things moms do unknowingly that hurt their milk supply:
15 Chewing Gum
While chewing gum becomes a common habit post-pregnancy, if you want to continue breastfeeding your child, then make sure you avoid spearmint-flavored chewing gum. Yes, you read that right. Spearmint chewing gum can hamper a mother's milk production!
Spearmint flavored chewing gum contains the herb spearmint, which when taken in large quantities can decrease a lactating mother’s milk supply. You might have been wondering how your milk supply has gone down despite a healthy diet. It is a surprising revelation for many that excessive chewing of spearmint during pregnancy or lactation can affect breast milk production.
Well, if you are a chewing gum addict, do try quitting it until you're done breastfeeding your little one. The baby is dependant on you, so you need to be a little more responsible and identify these kinds of unexpected culprits that are interfering with your breastfeeding abilities. Keep a food journal can help identify foods that are hampering your breastmilk supply.
14 Drinking Coke
Artificial sweeteners are generally very harmful to the human body. They cause unhealthy fluctuations in the natural sugar levels. The intake of Diet Coke adds to the intake of artificial sugar into your system. Diet Cokes are primarily created for people who are working towards weight loss, its best avoided by pregnant moms.
These sodas have an artificial sugar called saccharine that is harmful to both the mother and the child.
The unhealthy lifestyle of the mother can lead to health problems in the little baby forming inside her. Avoid bubbly drinks while pregnant and stick to drinking plenty of water. Water is one of the most important nutrients in a pregnant woman's diet as water is needed for innumerable functions in the body.
Water intake should be upped even higher once breastfeeding commences as breastmilk production requires a lot of water. Pregnant women and lactating mothers get dehydrated much faster than women who are not in such conditions. So drink up moms, on water not coke, diet coke or not!
13 What's In Your Makeup Bag?
Although most women are fond of makeup, new mothers are advised to steer clear of it. All the cosmetics out there contain heavy range of chemicals that may affect the baby.
Avoid nail polishes that are not certified organic. Non-organic nail polish has chemicals that affect breast milk production and may even make the milk toxic for the baby. Butylated compounds present in many cosmetics are especially dangerous for pregnant and nursing mothers. It's best to avoid manicures until your little one has stopped breastfeeding. Anyway which new mom has the time for something as luxurious as a manicure? Don't worry, all this time will pass so quickly. Time does fly faster than we think and you can eat all the food you like and put on all the makeup you desire after enough time has passed.
I know that's hard to believe when you are pregnant. The nine months seem long and drawn out and the ninth month seems to crawl more slowly than all the others put together. But within no time, your toddler will be getting ready to go to his playschool and you'll be thinking about how quickly your tiny one has grown up. So it's just for a short while. Avoid the things mentioned here so that you have a healthy pregnancy and plenty of breastmilk to nourish your little one when it comes out into this wonderful world.
12 Taking Cold Medication
Just like your allergy meds, over the counter cold medication can interfere with breastfeeding. Most kinds of cold medicines contain pseudoephedrine. As said earlier, this ingredient can inhibit the breast milk production. When your milk supply gets restricted, your child gets less nourishment and may develop deficiencies. It is therefore advised to consult a doctor so that he can prescribe ones that do not contain pseudoephedrine.
There are some medicines which have been proven to be safe for consumption during pregnancy and nursing.
Tylenol, Sudafed, Mucinex, and Vicks are termed to be safe by most experts. Apart from these, consumption of Mucinex is also safe while breastfeeding.
Even though the above-mentioned meds are safe based on research, it’s ideal to opt for natural cold-relief methods like steam inhalation or hot chicken broth. Chicken broth is rich in the vitamins and minerals that are most important in a pregnant woman's diet.
11 Cooking With Parsley
Parsley is said to have milk-suppressing properties if consumed in large amounts. Recipes like tabbouleh salads use plenty of parsley, so its best to avoid such dishes while pregnant or lactating. Another one to keep an eye out for are green smoothies where entire bunches of parsley are blended in; so if you are ordering a green smoothie thinking it's healthy, keep an eye on what goes into making that green smoothie.
Parsley has diuretic properties, meaning it will cause increased urination which can dehydrate a nursing mother. Dehydration is directly proportional to a decrease in the level of milk supply. So unless you want your little munchkin to stay hungry, avoid flavoring your foods with parsley.
Parsley is popular in Italian and Indian cuisine. A light sprinkling of these herbs on food is just a small dose, so it shouldn’t affect your milk production. But watch out for the extra flavoring dear mommy - don't get too lax with it.
10 Eating Tuna
The FDA advises, “women of childbearing age and young children not to eat four high-mercury species: swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico.” Consumption of canned tuna should also be limited.
While meat intake is high in protein and is extremely good for the infant and the mother, avoid the fishes that are high in mercury. Salmon is another one on this list. High levels of mercury which can decrease a nursing mother’s milk supply. But as fish has lots of nutrients that are really beneficial, they are a great addition to a pregnant woman's diet.
But as we have just learned, it is best to choose your fish with caution. Trout, anchovies, herring, or sardines are excellent and safe choices. Rather than deep frying fish, it's best to grill or bake them. But be careful while flavoring them - don't forget that sage, oregano, and parsley affect breast milk production.
9 Applying Certain Creams And Essential Oils
Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family. It was a herb recommended for pregnant women as it is known for its role in supporting the nervous system, providing a sense of balance, and allowing for deeper focus and concentration. In fact, there are many studies that prove that this plant helps mood, cognitive function, alertness, calmness, and sleep. Sounds great! So what's it doing on this particular list of things that should be avoided by a pregnant woman? Sadly, lemon balm has other properties too that may negate the benefits it offers.
Lemon balms are an antigalactagogue, which can reduce milk supply if it is used in large amounts. Antigalactagogues are herbs, foods, or medications that can reduce the milk supply, they are used for lessening breast engorgement.
Lemon balm is a popular ingredient in creams and body lotions. As many of these ingredients in skin creams get absorbed into the bloodstream, they can interfere with breast milk production. Therefore, it is better if pregnant women avoid using creams and essentials oil with lemon balm. Practice caution when applying any kind of creams on your skin if you are a breastfeeding mom, as these creams may be irritating to the baby as well when there is skin to skin contact with the mother. Babies have really sensitive skin.
8 Drinking Peppermint Tea
In earlier days, the peppermint plant was used by village medical practitioners to stop milk supply after a certain period of lactation. To all the pregnant tea addicts out there, the peppermint that is found in peppermint tea can affect breast milk supply post childbirth. Lactating mothers need to practice even more caution as this may cause problems with breastfeeding their little one.
Unlike its consumption, if the same peppermint extract, water or tea is applied to the nips, the cracks that occur after rigorous feeding sessions can be avoided. It also reduces the milk discharge and the pain associated with breastfeeding.
If you are a tea lover, instead of peppermint tea, try out other flavors. Cardamom tea or ginger tea offers excellent health benefits for pregnant women and lactating moms.
These are good for digestion and help lessen the bloated feeling that often plagues pregnant ladies.
7 Seasoning Meals With Oregano
Just like parsley, oregano flavoring on a pizza or sandwich can decrease your milk supply. Oregano has an addictive taste. That may be one of the reasons why people can’t stop at just one slice of pizza. But when you are pregnant, it best to skip the oregano while making pizza. Stay away from Italian seasoning mixes as they contain plenty of oregano too.
Sage, peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, oregano, and cabbage leaves are all used for making massage oils for milk suppression when a mother wants to stop breastfeeding and reduce her overabundant milk supply. When the baby starts eating solid food, he may not drink much breast milk.
But if the milk supply builds up in the breast, the swollen and engorged breasts can be quite uncomfortable and even painful. It can even get infected if the mother doesn't do something to reduce and eventually stop her breast milk production.
6 Drinking The Mommy Juice
The 28-year-old mother of three, Tasha Adams, was arrested for allegedly endangering the welfare of her 6-month-old daughter as she was drinking alcohol while breastfeeding the baby. She was at an Arkansas restaurant where the waitress called in the police who arrested her for endangering the child. Adams insisted that she wasn't doing anything wrong from a parenting standpoint. "I’ll say it till the day I die, I was sober enough to breastfeed my kid." Charges against her were dropped as drinking while nursing isn't illegal in Arkansas.
While drinking while nursing may not be illegal, large amounts of alcohol can be harmful to a breastfeeding baby.
Alcohol in any form, during or after pregnancy, can be harmful. Alcohol consumption can inhibit breast milk production. Alcohol also dehydrates the body by absorbing lots of water from body tissues.
While breastfeeding, the infant is dependant on the mother for both milk and water. Concentrated milk may provide nutrients, but the lack of water can leave the child dehydrated. The doctors usually advise not to consume any form of alcohol during pregnancy and for at least 3 to 6 months after childbirth.
5 Taking Allergy Medication
The above mentioned two aren’t the only things you need to cut back on while you’re pregnant or lactating. Allergy medications can also affect breastmilk supply as it contains an ingredient called pseudoephedrine. While the decrease in milk supply may not be very evident, it might result in the malnourishment of your child.
Never take these medicines while pregnant without consulting your gyno. While doctors can advise better ways to manage your allergies, after the delivery, you should keep a track of the amount of feeding your baby does. You should also follow instructed massage movements to stimulate milk production and soothe your aching breasts.
Avoid allergy medications during the pregnancy and during the breastfeeding months to ensure an uninterrupted breast milk supply for your little darling. Try natural options such as the Neti Pot, apple cider vinegar drinks, or locally-sourced honey. Try having a glass of warm water with a tablespoon of ACV and a teaspoon of honey every day in the morning. Apple cider vinegar aids digestion and has plenty of other health benefits.
Well, not that this is an exception while you aren’t pregnant or whether you are a man or women but, smoking during your maternity phase might result in worse consequences than the usual. Cigarettes contain nicotine and that can make your breastmilk supply shrink. It holds the property of absorbing water from the body and it, therefore, dehydrates the body.
The lack of water affects milk production and the breastmilk lessens in quantity and becomes more concentrated. This may result in insufficient food for your baby. Nicotine is absorbed into the breast milk and is passed on to the baby.
This increases the risk of vomiting, fussy behavior, sleeplessness and even the risk for SIDS.
Healthy habits during and post pregnancy are important for your child's health. Smoking has never been termed good for health. Why pass it on to your little munchkin then? If you are an addict, try cutting down on the number of cigarettes and stop it gradually, for both of your sakes.
3 Using Sage To Add Flavor
Sage tea has potent healing powers. It is one of the best herbs for decreasing breast milk production. Hmm...read that again! Yes decrease milk production, not increase it. So pregnant women are better off staying away from sage if they don't want their breastmilk supply damaged.
Healthy eating habits are an important factor for a new mom. Whatever she eats gets processed and helps form the baby milk. The taste of the milk differs depending on what the mother eats. The baby gradually gets to understand the variety of tastes through the mother’s milk.
For the same reason, studies suggest different ideas about how different forms of food intake can be adopted by pregnant women for better breastmilk for a child. Monitor what you eat and how your little one reacts to the change of taste in your milk. A pregnant lady holds the responsibility of more than one life and therefore should first take care of herself.
2 Hypothyroid - And Not Taking Your Medication
Hypothyroidism makes it difficult for women to get pregnant in the first place. If you are lucky enough to get pregnant, it is vital that you take the thyroxine medications regularly. Lack of thyroxine causes hypothyroidism which causes a host of health problems. This can also decrease a nursing mother’s milk supply. Lactating mothers diagnosed with hypothyroidism should take extra care to ensure that their medicine intake is regular.
Giving birth changes a lot of things and discipline is something that needs to be inculcated for a better living. Mothers with hypothyroidism are also recommended to follow basic exercises and meditation to maintain a serene mind and a relatively active body.
Thyroid problems during pregnancy can be easily managed with the right levels of medication. It is important to keep checking the TSH levels by doing routine blood tests throughout the pregnancy. If the TSH levels go below the required levels, then it can lead to health complications in the developing fetus.
1 Exposure To Lead
Lead is an environmental pollutant that tends to accumulate in the human body's bony structures. It serves no useful purpose in the body and can be quite damaging. Lead poisoning can come from a variety of different sources. It most often comes from exposure to lead-based paint. Lead contamination may come from the soil and drinking water, and can even be found in some toys and in certain cosmetics.
Lead exposure in pregnant women can affect breastmilk supply.
But frankly, this is one of the lesser concerns. Other than the health problems it causes the mother, lead exposure can lead to severe mental and physical developmental issues in the developing fetus. High levels of exposure cause damage to the kidneys and nervous system of both the mother and the child growing inside her.
Newborns with stunted growth or learning difficulties may have been exposed to lead during pregnancy or after their birth. If you fear that your child has been exposed to lead, a blood test can help confirm if lead is present in the bloodstream. Pinpoint the source of lead contamination and eradicate it at the earliest to protect not just yourself but all the people in that locality, including your baby.