The breast isn’t just a container for milk !

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Photo Credit: @milkandloveaus

Have you ever wondered how breasts make milk? The cells in breast tissue extract water, sugar, proteins, vitamins and mineral from mother’s blood and convert them into milk for her baby. The awesome capacity of the breast to produce milk is made possible by complex biochemical and hormonal homeostasis. Breast milk is produced after birth by means of a synchronized dance; essential are the rise and fall of specific hormones.

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Interesting facts about breastfeeding:

  • There is a noted calmness reported by women who breastfeed and some research points to women feeling less stress and pain compared to formula feeders. (Riordan et al., 2010)
  • The delicate interplay of hormones and glands that are essential to lactation; enables a mother to create a letdown of milk merely by thinking of her baby.
  • A mother’s body can detect, produce and transfer specific antibodies through her breast milk to protect baby.

The breast isn’t just a container for milk but a vital organ of active production driven by a baby nursing. (Riordan et al., 2010) The ducts inside the breast are intertwined and resemble tree roots. These roots search for water and nutrients not only to nourish but grow, strengthen and protect the tree. It’s amazing how Mother Nature has created everything in absolute equilibrium.

Respectfully,
Nesha Joshi RN BSN IBCLC

Edited by: Rachel Morasse (thank you!)

Resources

Riordan, J., & Wambach, K. (2010). Breastfeeding and human lactation. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett .

https://www.milkandlove.com.au TO CREATE YOUR OWN BREASTFEEDING TREE

Breastfeeding into Toddlerhood and Beyond

 

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Photo Credit: fireandice photography

Normalizing breastfeeding remains a struggle in our society, especially as the baby grows into toddlerhood. When should a mother wean her nursling? The answer is obvious to me; whenever mother and child are ready. It seems that everyone has a strong opinion on this topic. Strong social and cultural pressures can influence a mother’s decision to wean early. My colleague at work once said “walking equals weaning”. A quick survey revealed that most of my coworkers believed that breast milk had benefits up to 6 months but that its necessity was close to none once solid foods were introduced. The thought of a child lifting his mother shirt to nurse was laughable! In Canada, too many families wean their babies early and thus breastfeeding rates are less than 10% at 1 year of age.  Let’s explore what the experts have to say about prolonged breastfeeding and what common sense points to:

Why breastfeed past 6 months?

It’s a non-refutable fact that breast milk ensures healthy growth and development into childhood by protecting against multiple infectious diseases and childhood obesity. In fact, as the child nurses less frequently and breast milk volumes gradually diminish with natural weaning, the properties in breast milk are more concentrated in every drop. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months, with continued breastfeeding and appropriate complementary foods thereafter. Of course, a mother also benefits from prolonged breastfeeding by reducing her risks of developing diseases such ovarian cancer and breast cancer. (Statistic Canada, 2015)

Simply put, human milk is designed for human babies. Human milk contains nutrients, growth factors and cells important for brain development that artificial formula lacks. (AAP, 2018) Breast milk is basically food for the growing human brain. Not to mention that purchasing artificial formula after 6 months is expensive and unnecessary when mother and baby are willing to breastfeed. AAP recommendations include no cow’s milk (if at all) until 1 year of age due risks of allergies and gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea. Breastfeeding will not only save a lot of money, it’s also environmentally friendly and nutritious!

How can we increase breastfeeding rates in Canada? 

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Photo Credit: Lindsay Petty Photograph

As per Statistic Canada, mothers who breastfed for less than 6 months weaned because they believed not to have enough milk. Mothers also reported technical breastfeeding problems which led to premature weaning. One simple solution is to educate healthcare professionals about breastfeeding care. The Public Health Agency of Canada reported 39% of nurses and 9% of healthcare practitioners received breastfeeding training. There is obviously a lot of room for improvement! Canada has made efforts to promote and protect breastfeeding by supporting paid parental leave. However, we must continue to advocate for breastfeeding rights in the workplace; such as employers providing time and space for women to express and store breast milk at work. Non-profit-organizations such as Nourri-Source in Quebec also play a vital role in supporting breastfeeding families. To learn more check out their website http://www.nourri-source.org

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Photo credit: fireandice photography

Wrap up 

As a society, we need to start questioning why the intimacy of breastfeeding a toddler throws us off. Why does breastfeeding a toddler seem to be an issue in western culture? We want the best for our growing child and yet we fail to recognize the vital role of breast milk for their development. With the right information and support systems, breastfeeding an older child will no longer be frowned upon in our society. The natural process of weaning will happen when mother and child are ready. Similar to walking, talking and sleeping through the night, each child will meet their individual milestones at their own pace, some at 18 months others at 4 years old. Trust that your child will wean when he is ready to let go and follow your maternal instincts to know what is best for your child and family.

Health and happiness always,

Nesha Joshi RN BSN IBCLC

Edited by: Rachel Morasse

References

American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition: The use of whole cow’s milk in infancy. Pediatrics. 1992 Jun;89(6 Pt 1):1105-9.

Canada, G. O. (2015, November 27). Health at a Glance. Retrieved February 05, 2018, from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-624-x/2013001/article/11879-eng.htm#n10

Prentice, A. (1996). Constituents of human milk . Food and Nutrition Bulletin ,17(4).

Bengson, D. (2003). A propos du sevrage … quand lallaitement se termine. Québec: Ligue La Leche.

Breastfeeding. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2018, from http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/

Schwarzenberg, S. J., Georgieff, M. K., & Nutrition, C. O. (2018, January 22). Advocacy for Improving Nutrition in the First 1000 Days To Support Childhood Development and Adult Health. Retrieved January 31, 2018, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2018/01/18/peds.2017-3716

 

 

Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life

Bangladesh mother and child Khali village I

Photo Credit: Concern Universal

We live in a sad world where half of all refugees are children. Today, there are more than 50 million child migrants suffering from poverty and hunger (UNICEF, 2018).

Ongoing wars during these past few years have displaced many and have brought famine to numerous countries such as Yemen, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia and Syria. The World Health Organization and the United Nations have been calling for urgent action but the world continues to sit back and watch, not doing enough to save the children of the world. This is no shocking news: we have all heard of the crisis, and we choose to look the other way and blame it on politics.

How does breastfeeding play a role in famine-stricken countries?

Many might believe that women who are malnourished can’t sustain breastfeeding. We assume that artificial formula needs to be rushed into countries like Bangladesh to save the hungry dying Rohingya children from famine. We couldn’t be more wrong!

“Babies who have undernourished mothers usually do not reflect the same state of malnourishment because they can draw much of what they need from breastmilk at the expense of the mother.” (Mannel et al., 2013). In fact, it is much more cost effective to nourish the mother and continue to breastfeed the infant.

Dr. Jack Newman travelled to Africa in 1981 where he witnessed firsthand babies dying because they were not breastfed or partially breastfed. Water used to clean bottles was often contaminated. Artificial formula was being prepared in unsanitary conditions placing infants at risk for diarrheal diseases. Children missed out on important antibodies present in breastmilk to protect them from infections.

Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life

The new slogan for World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) 2018 is Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life. WABA is an organization that protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding worldwide.

Why is this important? Breastmilk provides nutrition and food security for children around the world (WABA, 2018). That also includes Canada! Families with low income who can’t afford the cost of artificial formula often dilute artificial formula with more water to save costs.

Migrants aren’t only present overseas. Canada Border Services Agency (CNSA) and Immigrant and Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offices have published preliminary statistics of asylum claimants in 2017. Over 155 000 individuals have claimed asylum in Canada last year! This will evidently increase the number of vulnerable women and young children in Canada.

Final thoughts

A mother is blessed with the ability to provide life-sustaining nourishment to her baby. It is a natural phenomenon embedded in our genetic identity. She doesn’t require expensive material that is so hard to come by when fleeing a war-torn country nor does she need clean water when she finds asylum to keep her baby nourished.

A mother’s ability to breastfeed a human child is a sacred gift that is often underestimated and even undermined. We are reminded of its vital role in times of crisis. Can you imagine a world in peril in which women no longer have the knowledge of how to breastfeed?

With love and gratitude always,

Nesha Joshi RN IBCLC

Edited by:  Rachel Morasse

References

Diarrhoeal disease. (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2018, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs330/en/

Immigration, R. A. (2017, December 19). Asylum Claims. Retrieved January 20, 2018, from https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/refugees/asylum-claims.html

Immigration, R. A. (2017, December 19). Asylum Claimants Processed by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Offices, January 2011 – November 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2018, from https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/refugees/asylum-claims/processed-claims.html

Mannel, R., Martens, P. J., & Walker, M. (2013). Core curriculum for lactation consultant practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. page 328

Newman, J., & Pitman, T. (2006). Lallaitement: comprendre et réussir avec le Dr. Jack Newman. Québec: Jack Newman Communications. page 16

World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action – Protects, Promotes and Supports Breastfeeding Worldwide. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2018, from http://waba.org.my/

(n.d.). World Breastfeeding Week. Retrieved January 21, 2018, from http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

 

Marijuana and breastfeeding?!

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Photo credit: Tristan Savatier

We are a few months away from legalizing marijuana in Canada. It’s hard to believe that come summer 2018 Canadians will be able to legally buy weed! Trudeau’s bill C-45 will legalize marijuana consumption and in our province, la société québécoise du cannabis (SQC) will regulate its sales. So here is what you should know about breastfeeding and consuming marijuana.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana, weed and pot are all names used to refer to the plant Cannabis. The active chemical that affects the brain is known as delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH). It has been used throughout history for its medicinal properties and for religious purposes (namely in India). Weed can be smoked, used in teas and even baked in brownies. It comes in various forms such as powder, oil and wax.

Can I breastfeed and smoke weed?

No! And here is why you shouldn’t;

  • TCH transfers and concentrates in breastmilk and can be absorbed by baby (Astley et al., 1990).
  • As per Health Canada’s website “the toxins in cannabis are carried through the mother’s blood to her fetus during pregnancy and in the breastmilk following birth.”
  • The toxins present in cannabis can be found in the infant’s urine analysis up to 3 weeks after exposure (Perez-Reyes and Wall, 1982).
  • TCH is stored in body fat and can last up to several weeks in the body (Mannel et al., 2013).
  • When the breastmilk of a heavy user was analyzed, the study concluded that breastmilk was eight times more concentrated than mother’s plasma levels. (Mannel et al., 2013).
  • A study of 68 infants exposed to marijuana revealed motor and development delays (Astley et al., 1990).

Do I need to “pump and dump” my milk if I smoked marijuana once?

No. As per leading Canadian expert in breastfeeding, Dr. Jack Newman says there is no need to pump and waste breastmilk after lighting up that occasional joint. Dr. Jack Newman says there is no need to formula feed either. There is no evidence that breastmilk is dangerous with small concentrations of TCH (Newman, 2006). It’s a whole different story if you’re a chronic daily user! Prolonged exposure to TCH can accumulate in baby’s body and its long-term side effects are unknown (Bonyata, 2018).

Take away message

Do not smoke marijuana and breastfeed. It’s a bad idea! If you are going to smoke occasionally be mindful and cautious. As per Health Canada’s guidelines, second-hand smoke from marijuana can also increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Evidently, mind alternating substances can influence parent’s behaviour and judgment.

Feel free to leave a comment below and join the discussion!

Peace and love,

Nesha Joshi RN IBCLC

Edited by Rachel Morasse

References

Astley, S. J., & Little, R. E. (1990). Maternal marijuana use during lactation and infant development at one year. Neurotoxicology and teratology, 12(2), 161-168

Bonyata K (2018). Breastfeeding and Marijuana • KellyMom.com. (2018, January 13). Retrieved January 15, 2018, from https://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/lifestyle/marijuana/

Canada, H. (2017, June 19). Health effects of cannabis. Retrieved January 12, 2018, from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/substance-abuse/controlled-illegal-drugs/health-risks-of-marijuana-use.html

Mannel, R., Martens, P. J., & Walker, M. (2013). Core curriculum for lactation consultant practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. Page 465

Perez-Reyes M, Wall ME. Presence of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in human milk. N Engl J Med. 1982 Sep 23;307(13):819-20.