Lifestyle and Breast Milk
The following information is written for women who are breastfeeding, or are pregnant and considering breastfeeding their baby.
A woman's lifestyle, including diet and other behaviors, can have an affect on her breast milk, and therefore on her baby. It's important for all nursing mothers to take care of themselves so they can provide the best care to their babies. This includes getting enough rest and proper nutrition so you have enough energy to take care of your baby and avoid illness. Some women think that when they are sick, they should not breastfeed. But, most common illnesses, such as colds, flu, or diarrhea, can't be passed through breast milk. In fact, if a mother is sick, her breast milk will have antibodies in it. These antibodies will help protect her baby from getting the same sickness. Here are some other lifestyle issues that affect breast milk:
VirusesA few viruses can pass through breast milk. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is one of them. Women who are HIV positive should not breastfeed. Also, women with Hepatitis C may be able to transmit the virus through breast milk, but it is not certain. However, bleeding or cracked nipples on the breast of a woman with Hepatitis C puts a breastfeeding infant at higher risk for getting the virus.
Breastfeeding mothers who have generally good diets produce healthy breast milk for their babies, even when they don't eat well at times. But, chronically undernourished women who have had diets very low in vitamins and minerals, and low stores in their bodies may produce milk that is lower than normal in some vitamins, especially vitamins A, D, B6, or B12. These breastfeeding mothers can help the vitamin levels in their milk return to normal by improving their diets or by taking vitamin supplements. It is recommended that nursing mothers take in about 2700 calories every day (about 500 calories more than a non-pregnant, non-nursing woman).
Here's how to tell if something you are eating is upsetting your
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