Breast milk might be baby’s first immunization but it should not be baby’s last. Now let’s shift our attention to moms. There is always so much focus on the health of babies and breastfeeding but what about moms? After pregnancy, a woman’s body is EXPECTED to lactate. Again, this is nature for all mammals and is part of the physiologic process that helps reset the female body after giving birth. In a sense, if you turn off lactation, you are not allowing the body to “reset” and you are putting it at risk.
Women who do not lactate are at increased risk of obesity, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
While breastfeeding is always a personal choice it is important for women and their doctors to fully appreciate the health implications of skipping lactation after pregnancy. Women who lactate are protecting their bodies from chronic illnesses that plague the health care system. Women who choose not to lactate are putting their bodies at risk for all those same chronic illnesses. For doctors and the health industry and from a public health perspective, supporting the natural process of lactation is akin to discussing healthy diet, exercise and smoking cessation.
So take breast milk and lactation off the pedestal and give them the place they deserve. They are normal and expected parts of life. They should be supported to succeed because interrupting breastfeeding and lactation results in health risks for both women and children.
Written By: Dr. Shaer