Breastfeeding is not just about nourishing your offspring, rather it also about bonding. Although according to doctors it has more benefits for the child, what a mother gets from the process can’t be sidelined because a woman’s health depends on it.
Unfortunately, according to experts many mothers nowadays try to avoid breastfeeding their child majorly because of this misconception that their breasts might sag.
“There are cases of women who due to some or the other health condition are unable to feed their child. They should also be extra cautious about their overall health in the long run”, says Dr Pratima Thamke, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Motherhood Hospital, Mumbai.
But why can’t some women breastfeed?
Dr Thamke says there are various reasons attached to it and at times it also depends on case to case. But the most common reasons are:
1. Preterm delivery
2. At times breast milk doesn’t come out properly due to C-section surgery
3. Soreness in nipples
4. Breast engorgement
Do you know that according to a study published in the journal of Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology, women who don’t or can’t breastfeed face way a higher risk when it comes to cancer? And that’s not just during the lactation period but for their entire life.
What can happen if someone can’t breastfeed?
“There are various health risks that are involved if someone resists this practice, then be it by choice or due to any other complications. In fact, it can be really painful for a mother because the milk dries up in the breast and causes a lot of pain. Cleaning the breasts is required in this case,” says Dr Thamke.
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Now that you know, let’s look at the seven shocking health risks of not breastfeeding:
1. Lactation amenorrhea
Nature has designed its own way to curb immediate pregnancy after delivery but for that a mother has to breastfeed her child. When a mother breastfeeds, the hormones which are subsequently produced don’t let egg formation happen.
“In case the mother doesn’t breastfeed her child the ovulation process starts and then she gets her period. This means she is again ready for another pregnancy which can harm her uterus and overall well-being,” Dr Thamke says.
2. Breast cancer
“This is a known fact that if a mother doesn’t breastfeed, then she has higher chances of her getting breast cancer”, she says.
3. Ovarian cancer
“The main reason for ovarian cancer is early ovulation. Breastfeeding delays the ovulation process which acts as a protection mechanism. But if the mother doesn’t breastfeed then she can fall prey to early pregnancy which can impact her health and can lead to ovarian cancer as well”, she explains.
4. There is also a drop in maternal metabolism
Women usually complain of weight gain post pregnancy and one of the reasons can be that they haven’t breastfed their child properly. “Do you know that weight gain won’t happen in lactating mothers as the process of lactation uses more energy in producing milk and this also leads to major weight loss. So, if a pregnant woman wants to shed post-pregnancy weight fast then she must breastfeed,” she suggests.
5. There can be chances of postpartum haemorrhage
“Breastfeeding right after birth is not just great for the baby but for the mother too. It helps in putting a full stop to excessive bleeding that happens after the delivery. Also, if you don’t breastfeed then your uterus takes a lot of time in coming back to its original shape or position which doesn’t happen in females who opt for breastfeeding,” she explains.
6. Not breastfeeding can lead to postpartum depression (PPD)
PPD is majorly seen in women right after their pregnancy. “The major symptoms of PPD are sleeplessness, loss of appetite, intense irritability, and difficulty bonding with the baby. The last symptom is one of the major causes of this depression and not breastfeeding your child is the only reason behind this,” she says.
“Many women develop osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other cardiovascular diseases. Yes, one of the reasons is that they might not have properly breastfed their child. That’s why I always request all pregnant women not to hesitate to feed their child as it’s not just about him/her, but in the long run you’ll also lead a disease-free life”, she concluded.
So, the bottom line is it is always good to follow nature’s way when it comes to breastfeeding to steer away from these health risks.