Breastfeeding - Is It For Everyone?

Nathalie Fiset

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Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and healthy thing a new mother can do. Most of the times, breast milk is the ideal nutrient for newborn babies. There are rare cases where nursing a baby might not be the healthiest choice. A new mother should always check with her treating physician if breastfeeding is adequate for her newborn baby.

Some diseases may be transmitted to the baby by breast milk. In those rare cases, breastfeeding might increase the risk of the baby catching the disease. For instance, when a mother has AIDS (acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome) it is recommended she does not feed her baby as the HIV virus may be transmitted through the breast milk. Other serious diseases that can be transmitted to the nursing baby through breast milk are such as: syphilis, hepatitis B, herpes when there are lesions on the breast, etc

It is important to realize that a mother should review with her qualified physician all the necessary precautions she must take to insure that she does not transmit those diseases to her baby even if she does not breastfeed him. One has to realize that there are extra precautions to be taken by a woman who is HIV positive and taking care of a newborn baby to ensure he does not catch it.

There are numerous drugs that are passed through breast milk and can harm the baby. A woman nursing her baby should always ask if the medications she is taking can affect her baby and if she should take an alternative drug or stop breastfeeding altogether. Many women tend to forget to mention they are breastfeeding when consulting a doctor in a walk-in clinic. This is very important.

For example, sulfonamide drugs have the potential to displace bilirubin and should be avoided during the first week of life. Tetracycline can potentially cause tooth discoloration in nursing babies. Chloramphenicol is also not recommended for nursing mothers. There are numerous other drugs that should not be taken while breastfeeding such as chemotherapeutic agents or antithyroide agents.

Breastfeeding women should always check with her doctor and pharmacist to ensure that her situation does not prevent her from breastfeeding.

Certain rare conditions in a baby can be contraindications for breastfeeding. Such conditions can be inborn error of metabolism or failure to thrive or physical malformations that render breastfeeding almost impossible.

Overall, when there is no contraindication, breastfeeding is still the best nutrient for a newborn baby. Its composition is well adapted to the needs of the growing baby. It is economical and prevents many infections as it supplies valuable antibodies to the baby.

Breastfeeding is also the most economical and practical way to feed a newborn infant. Nursing a baby favors a great bonding between the mother and her baby.

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