We all know the amazing benefits of breastfeeding, but truth be told it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. This is particularly the case if breastfeeding doesn’t come easily for you or your baby.
However, the common dangers or pitfalls of breastfeeding are rarely discussed, which can make some mothers feel isolated.
In order to help support mums and their babies, here are five things to keep an eye out for when breastfeeding.
5 things for mums to be wary of when breastfeeding
According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), feeding parents can consume a moderate amount of caffeine, a few cups, without it affecting babies.
However, newborns are particularly sensitive to caffeine and it can take them 160 hours to process it.
Some mothers find that their baby becomes unhappy, jittery, colicky and/or sleeps poorly if she consumes too much caffeine. A breastfeeding mother may find that caffeine affects her let-down reflex or if she has nipple vasospasm, makes it worse.
The concentration of alcohol in your blood is the concentration of alcohol in your milk says the ABA.
Alcohol gets into your breast milk from your blood, moving freely from the blood to the breast milk and back out again. It will be in your breast milk 30–60 minutes after you start drinking.
‘Pumping and dumping’ (expressing breast milk and throwing it away) will not reduce the amount of alcohol in your breast milk. You also do not need to do this once the alcohol has passed through your system. Alcohol is not ‘stored’ in the milk in your breasts, just as it doesn’t remain in your blood. Once the alcohol is out of your blood, it will be out of your breast milk.
To know when your breast milk is free of alcohol, it’s suggested you download the Feed Safe app.
3. Herbal medicine and drugs
It’s often assumed that natural or herbal remedies are harmless when breastfeeding, but this isn’t always the case.
These preparations don’t have same level of testing and proof that prescription drugs do. Because less is known about their side effects, it’s wise to check what is safe, especially if taking with prescribed medicine. Call the NPS Medicines Line, details here.
As for illegal and street drugs, they can pass from your bloodstream into the breast milk and reach the baby just like prescription and over the counter drugs.
Aside from potential risks to baby, you’re best to avoid as these drugs can alter and impair senses, judgement and perceptions and make a breastfeeding mum less able to properly care for her baby.
The ABA says that some mothers who smoke believe that it is safer to give their baby formula rather than breastfeed.
On the contrary, babies who are formula fed are more likely to suffer from the effects of second-hand cigarette smoke, compared to a breastfed baby.
Exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke increases a baby’s risk of lung infections, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome.
When you’re breastfeeding and decide to get a tattoo, you are still at risk of infection. The ABA says bacterial infections can be transmitted during tattooing mainly as a result of contamination of the pigment used. Ensuring that pigments are single-use only can reduce this risk.
The risk of infection from getting a tattoo is low, especially if done at a reputable parlour. However, it is a health risk which must be carefully assessed before a breastfeeding mother decides to get a tattoo.
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