Breastfeeding provides a growing baby with numerous health advantages. Breastmilk’s natural ingredients include protein (whey, casein, and other baby-friendly proteins), fats, vitamins, and lactose, in addition to infection-fighting leukocytes (APA).
If you are considering breastfeeding, it’s a wonderful option. Science Daily, for example, discusses PSTI (pancreatic secretory tripsin inhibitor) which reinforces and strengthens the lining of newborns’ intestines. Leukocytes, which battle illness in babies, also only exist in breastmilk. Nursing could also go so far as to improve baby’s genes in ways that safeguard an infant’s immune system.
However, it behooves moms and their babies to also understand that healthy nutrients aren’t all that can transfer via breastmilk from mother to baby. What you eat, drink, or use for your bodycare during pregnancy and nursing can contaminate your breastmilk and expose your baby to risk. Florence Williams, acclaimed author of “Breasts,” wrote in a 2005 NYT article about how toxins can transfer from mother to baby via the breastmilk. Women in their child-bearing years may have unknowingly developed a “chemical burden,” or buildup of harmful compounds:
When we nurse our babies, we feed them not only the fats, sugars and proteins that fire their immune systems, metabolisms and cerebral synapses. We also feed them, albeit in minuscule amounts, paint thinners, dry-cleaning fluids, wood preservatives, toilet deodorizers, cosmetic additives, gasoline byproducts, rocket fuel, termite poisons, fungicides and flame retardants. -Williams
This should not discourage mothers who wish to breastfeed – but rather should make them more judicious about their exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy and nursing. What you put into and onto your body counts in the pursuit of a healthy body for both you and your baby. Keep that truth in mind when selecting which products to incorporate into your skincare and haircare regimens.
Women should look after themselves during nursing as carefully as they do during pregnancy. Here are a few tips to accomplish just that, while avoiding exposure to toxins where possible:
- Use chemical-free, natural products. Research and stick to beauty lines such as our very own Nine Naturals.
- Read product labels closely. Learn how to recognize variations of harmful chemicals as phthalates and sulfates.
- Eat organic. Make organic food choices that optimize your nutrient sources and minimize chemical exposure, like pesticides.
- Steer clear of second hand smoke. You obviously know not to smoke at all while pregnant. Research also proves that cigarette and marijuana smoke can subject your infant to risk of SIDS and stunted growth and development.
- Avoid synthetic fragrances. They’re riddled with toxins and can enter your body through your respiratory system and through your skin.
- Inform your physician of any and all medications. From aspirin to acne cream, even the most innocuous medication can cause harm to your body and your baby’s body while nursing. Have a detailed discussion with your pediatrician and / or obstetrician to go over which meds are safest and which are risky.
Want to learn more about preparing for breastfeeding? Read our Top 5 Tips on how to Prepare for Breastfeeding and check out our Nine Ways to Reduce Your Toxic Burden During Pregnancy.
We wish you a wonderful experience with your newborn. As always, we encourage you to keep your body healthy through pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond. Because taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for your baby – especially during this special time in the baby’s development.