This Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Let’s get it off our chests!
We as mothers are wired to care of for our newborns before our own self. Hence, we will do everything to ensure we create a safety net for our children against illnesses by breastfeeding for as long as possible. But did you know by breastfeeding we are also creating a safety net for ourselves against breast cancer?
Yes, you heard that right – Breastfeeding for as long as possible can help lower the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Research shows a 4.3% decline in breast cancer risk for every 12 months a woman breastfeeds. A second study showed that breastfeeding women were 14% less likely to develop breast cancer in their lifetime than their non-breastfeeding counterparts.
Milk making cells are busy making milk – these cells have fewer opportunities to mutate and grow into tumors because they are working hard to simply make enough milk for the baby.
Lower Estrogen levels – Breastfeeding mimics menopause due to the production of milk producing hormone, prolactin, temporarily blocking estrogen production, which keeps estrogen levels low. Because estrogen stimulates hormone receptor-positive breast cancers to grow, lowering the estrogen level can help slow the cancer's growth or help prevent it from coming back.
Better lifestyle – Most women maintain a healthy lifestyle during their breastfeeding journey. They consume well balanced nutritious diet. They limit their consumption or totally quit drinking and smoking. Breastfeeding also helps with losing weight hence contributing to maintaining a healthy weight.
Fewer ovulation cycles- Breastfeeding might stop menstrual cycles for up to several months until the baby is weaned. As a result, fewer menstrual cycles will give less exposure to hormones like estrogen and progesterone which are exclusively linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Shed breast cells – Breastfeeding may lead your body to shed breast cells and in that process, you will probably shed cells that had the potential to become abnormal.
Less stress – Breastfeeding increases the bond between the mother and baby, resulting in less stress hormones which are a contributing factor in developing cancer.
Having said this, it is interesting to note, you will be able to significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer if you breastfeed for at least one year. You get the most benefit if you are able to breastfeed for more than two years (for one child or total time you breastfeed all your children). In my opinion, moms who wish to breastfeed for longer duration can make this process a lot easier if they do the following:
Attend antenatal classes -
Not only do these classes help you prepare for labor and child birth but they also give you basics of how to care for your newborn which also includes breastfeeding your newborns. Many lactation consultants also give out plenty of useful information during these classes, which help you feel more confident to breastfeed once the baby arrives. Likewise, you can even attend free workshops organized by Malaak Mama & Baby Care. They have a team of qualified lactation specialists who offer practical advice and assist you obtaining the correct latch and establish positive feeding techniques that work for you and your baby.
2. Get the Breastfeeding box –
It will make a world of a difference if you create a nursing space and get all the breastfeeding gear before the baby arrives so that you are off to a great start once the baby arrives. As a first time mother, I was pretty overwhelmed with the number of products available in the market, thankfully Mama Care Breastfeeding Box
got me everything I needed for my breastfeeding journey all for AED 499/- this super reasonable box got me everything I needed:
a. Nursing pillow -
An elevated position of the baby assisted by the pillow can help latching and also prevent or reduce reflux action. It will support the mother to avoid a wrong posture or the pain that follows. I love that Mama Care Nursing Pillow
is exceptionally soft, cotton made baby pillow comes with a smaller pillow to support your little one’s head.
b. Nursing cover -
With a nursing cover, you have the security of quality material you know is safe for you and the baby making it a baby essential. My favorite bit about Mama Care Nursing Cover
that is super stylish and has a long cape so it can easily cover me from the front and the sides alike, allowing me to breastfeed anywhere with the perfect amount of privacy.
c. Lactation tea bags -
All moms struggle with breastfeeding in the initial stages. Sometimes the milk flow is on a high and sometimes it's on a low. Lactation tea helps with the same; it helps improve the flow of milk in your breasts. Mama Care Lactation Tea
has the most soothing aroma and has all the significant ingredients like Fenugreek, Milk Thistle, Fennel Seed, Moringa, etc.
d. Saline nipple spray –
It is very common to have sore and cracked nipples in the initial weeks of breastfeeding. Mama Care’s Soothing Nip Spray
has been my absolute savior and is a must have!
e. Nipple balm – Mama Care Soothing Nipple Balm
consists of organic ingredients such as Virgin coconut oil, Shea butter, Turmeric, etc. as it aims to provide all-natural remedies for moms. Don’t worry – these balm is completely safe for baby to ingest.
f. Breast massager –
A lactation massager helps ease out clogged milk ducts, relieves pain from engorgement, and improves milk flow. Second, it also can be used while pumping to ensure proper flow for the baby. I love that Mama Care Lactation Massager
is BPA free and water-resistant that helps us take a hot shower and breast massage for milk production.
g. Breast repair mask –
Breast repair masks are like face masks just for the breasts. Make a breast-care routine for yourself, and think of it as ‘me time’! The collagen and aloe Vera in Mama Care Breast Repair Masks
provide essential nutrients and make wounds heal faster.
h. Colostrum collector –
This is for moms who experience colostrum before giving birth during pregnancy any time after 37 weeks. As you know Colostrum is also known as liquid gold as it is the first substance that comes before breastfeeding. It is very important for baby’s development. With Mama Care Colostrum Collector kit
you can safely collect any colostrum before the baby arrives.
i. Warm/Cold compress - The use of compress can help soothe feeding or
engorgement or mastitis pains. These compresses are best used before and after feeding sessions. You see, they help widen the ducts and also quicken milk let down and improve milk flow. Mama Care Warm/Cold compress
come along with adorable covers that protect our skin from scalding or freezing temperatures.
j. Disposable nipple pads –
Nipple pads are for those occasional leaks that can happen at any time keeping you stress free between feeds. Mama Care Disposable Nipple Pads
are waterproof, and the strong adhesive makes for a steady and strong grip. So paste away and rock your day!
3. Feed baby every 3 hours –
During the first 6 weeks feeding baby every 3 hours or earlier as per demand signals your body to make more milk every few hours resulting in establishing a good milk supply in general, which in turn helps with having enough milk supply during growth spurts which happen every few weeks in a newborn’s life.
4. Pay attention to your eating habits –
It is very important to follow a balanced diet in order to support your baby’s development. Important note: While eating all these foods are super healthy for the mom and the baby, just like everything else don’t overdo it. Because too much of anything is never a good idea.
Some of the foods to include in your diet in order to increase breast milk are:
a. Whole grains
b. Dark Green Vegetables
e. Sesame seeds
g. Flaxseed or Flaxseed oil
h. Fresh ginger root
5. Take postnatal vitamins -
Pregnancy drains several nutrients in your body, including calcium, selenium, iron, fatty acids, vitamin D, and folate, so optimal nutrition after delivery is important. What’s more, if you’re breastfeeding, your daily recommended dose of many nutrients is even higher than it was in pregnancy. Because of this increased nutrient demand, breastfeeding women are at a higher risk of developing nutrient deficiencies. Having said that, supplements are never a replacement of a healthy balanced diet, any supplements should only be taken after doctor’s approval.
This October – make it a point to get yourself checked. Spread the word and encourage new moms to breastfeed for longer to prevent Breast Cancer
Wrote by: Lavina Balchandani