Benefits of Breastmilk

10 Benefits of Breastmilk You Didn’t Know About

If you are newly pregnant or approaching your due date, you are likely weighing the benefits of breast and formula feeding. Besides well-known benefits of breastmilk, here are ten science-based benefits of breastfeeding.Many pediatricians say that they can touch the infant’s skin and tell whether the baby is formula-fed or breastfed. Breastfed babies often have nicer and smoother skin than formula-fed babies. On the other hand, formula-fed babies may have rougher skin with sandpapery patches. Studies found that the subcutaneous fat in formula-fed and breastfed infants has a different composition. Breastmilk has unique immune factors that ward off potential allergic reactions to food. It forms a protective coating around the baby’s intestine and keeps inflammation and allergies in check. These natural antibodies are not found in soy, cow’s milk, or any other formula. Babies who are not breastfed are relatively more likely to develop asthma and allergies. Multiple sclerosis is a common autoimmune disease. It affects our central nervous system. Breastfeeding could have protective effects against this sometimes disease.According to a study from the American Academy of Neurology, mothers who breastfeed for 15+ months are 53% less likely to suffer from MS.Breastfeeding may reduce the baby’s risk of developing many diseases and illnesses. These diseases include middle ear infections, respiratory tract infections, and gut infections. Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from illnesses (intestinal tissue damage, diabetes, childhood leukemia and celiac disease) when compared to formula-fed babies.Researchers report the brain development may be different between formula-fed and breastfed babies. The difference is primarily attributed to physical intimacy, eye contact, and touch associated with breastfeeding.  Breastfed babies tend to have higher intelligence scores. Also, they are less likely to develop behavioral and learning problems as they grow older. During pregnancy, the uterus expands its size from that of a pear to filling the entire abdomen space. After delivery, it undergoes a process called involution.Involution helps the uterus return to its standard size. Oxytocin hormone helps drive this process. Women's bodies secrete a high amount of Oxytocin during breastfeeding. It reduces bleeding by uterine contractions so that the uterus returns to its previous size. Researchers report that mothers who breastfeed have a faster involution process. Breastfeeding pauses ovulation and menstruation. This delay ensures that there is some gap between pregnancies. Mom can also enjoy valuable time with their newborn without worrying about a monthly menstrual period.A study conducted by the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors revealed that breastfeeding women have a lower risk of breast cancer. The study compared breastfeeding mothers to mothers who didn't breastfeed, to reach this conclusion.  Reportedly, breastfeeding prevents tooth decay in babies. It also lowers the potential risk of cavities and needing teeth bracing in the future.  Breastfeeding is completely free. By choosing to breastfeed, you save money on formula-fed milk. You can spend more valuable time with your baby, instead of cleaning and sterilizing bottles constantly.Don't worry if you are unable to breastfeed. Best-quality formulas are safe and provide you and the baby with all the required nutrients.However, breastmilk has irresistible benefits, both for the mother and the baby. Plus, it gives you quality time to bond with your newborn. 
3 min read

What are Inverted Nipples?

If a breast nipple points inward instead of out, it is known as an inverted nipple.  An inverted nipple is when the whole thing is inward and sometimes even below the surface of the colored portion of the breast, the areola.  Usually they will move back outward when stimulated, but in some cases they do not. This is more common than you might think.  It can happen with men as well as women and can be one or both nipples.  The person can be born with it or it may develop over a period of time.  However, if it happens suddenly or you have pain, contact your doctor right away. If it has been present since birth, it is because the connective tissue is tight or there is a problem with the ducts.   If it develops later, usually as an adult, but not always, it is an indication of some serious issues:•         Breast cancer including Paget's disease•         Duct ectasia, where the milk duct is thickened and can become clogged with fluid•         Fibrocystic breast disease•         Mastitis, or a clogged milk duct•         Surgery or trauma•         Tuberculosis, although this is rare Long term nipple inversion or retraction doesn't usually cause any problems except that breastfeeding can be challenging.  In this case it is beneficial to work with a lactation specialist.  In fact, breastfeeding has been shown to reverse this condition. Cosmetically this inversion can be annoying or embarrassing.  One low tech solution is a breast shield.  This is a plastic device that fits over the nipple.  Gentle but continuous pressure will slowly force the nipple outward.  Another solution is a suction that works in much the same way.  After a few weeks, the problem is resolved. There are also surgical options.  Once the only solution was to cut through the milk ducts in order to release the nipple.  This version means that the woman will be unable to breastfeed.  Newer techniques preserves the milk ducts.  The breast tissue fibers are released in order that they can spread and stretch and involves only a small incision in the areola.  Generally a few sutures are placed that can be removed or dissolve within a few weeks.  Either of these operations are considered cosmetic and are not covered by most insurance policies.  If you are interested contact a plastic surgeon for details. With age, the nipples may change, like most parts of our body.  Being familiar with the normal look of body parts, including the nipples, can alert you to some change that is not normal and can be an indicator of something more serious.  While this is not necessarily a sign of breast cancer, it can be an indication that something is wrong.  If the inversion occurs suddenly or if you notice any discharge or bleeding, this can also be a sign of some more serious condition.  In those events contact your physician promptly.    
3 min read
breast milk color

Breast Milk Color - Understanding The Meaning

Breast milk color is often thought to be white. So, when you notice a different colored substance coming out of your breast, it’s understandable to be concerned.  Well, there is nothing to worry about! It's quite normal for breast milk to be yellowish and even change color over time. In this post, we will talk about the different colors of breast milk and what they mean.   The “normal” color of breast milk Most often, break milk is light in color, usually pale yellow. It can have bluish or other yellowish tints as well.  During the first few weeks after delivery, the milk changes its composition, amount, and color quickly. The normal changes by stage are: Color of Colostrum: The highly nutritious and concentrated colostrum is the first breast milk your body produces. It is sometimes clear and watery, and can be orange or yellow and thick. Colostrum contains high levels of beta-carotene that can give it a dark yellow or orange color. Color of Transitional Milk: As the production of breast milk increases, the body starts making transitional milk. During this transition period, breast milk changes its color from yellow to more white.  Color of Foremilk: Foremilk is lower in fat and thinner. This foremilk is thin and can look clear or bluish. Color of Hindmilk: As you continue to breastfeed, the fat in the milk increases. And, with increased fat content, breast milk becomes creamier milk called hindmilk that appears white or yellow.Certain medications, herbs, foods, and nutritional supplements can change the color of breast milk. Note that breast milk changes its color after also freezing, but without damaging its nutritional value.  These changes are usually diet-related and harmless. Some different colors of breast milk are: ●       Green Breast Milk: The green tone of your break milk is when you eat a lot of green foods or edible products that contain green dyes. Green-colored beverages and green vegetables like spinach and seaweed can also cause the greenish color of your breast milk. ●       Pink, Red, and Orange: The orange, pink, and red-tinged breast milk are due to eating foods that are naturally these colors. Other reasons could be having drinks or foods that contain orange, red, and yellow food dyes. Orange and sometimes, reddish fruit drinks orange soda, beets, etc., can also leads to differently colored milk with tints of orange, red, and pink. Pink can also be due to droplets of blood leaking into the milk from a nipple or breast duct injury.●       Brown and Blood-Tinged Breast Milk: When older blood leaks into your body’s milk ducts, the breast milk may appear brown, rust-colored, or dark orange. When breast milk appears like dirty water, it is called rusty pipe syndrome (blood in the ducts from breast engorgement). ●       Black Breast Milk: Black breast milk is often due to the antibiotic Minocin that also causes skin darkening. Minocin is not recommended when nursing. So make sure you consult with your doctor before taking any medication during breastfeeding. Conclusion Most breastfeeding mothers do not notice color variations unless they pump often, or the baby spits up the breast milk with a color. Knowing the reason behind the color change can reassure you if you are concerned about your baby's milk. In case of any doubt, it is always good to consult with your doctor if you have any concerns about your breastmilk
3 min read
breast lump in pregnancy

Breast Lump Pregnancy - Should you worry?

Finding a breast lump in pregnancy can be very scary, and a lot of things may be in your head right now. BUT, don’t fill yourself with too much worry and anxiety.  Having breast cancer while pregnant is rare, even more so for women under 35 years old. Furthermore, you will experience a lot of changes in your breasts when expecting, so some changes can be normal.  But what exactly does a breast lump during pregnancy mean? Read on to learn more! Even during your second trimester, your breasts begin preparing to nurse your little one. Sometimes, a milk duct may get blocked, and even enlarged, during this process. You will know for sure as clogged milk ducts are typically hard and sometimes even reddened lumps, which feel tender or hot to the touch. Fortunately, they usually clear and feel better after a few days, or they sometimes continue clogging up and you may need antibiotics or surgical drainage. Other reasons your breasts would change during pregnancy is from the increase of hormones. You may feel tenderness or changes around your breasts and nipples from these hormones. You may also experience an increase in your breast size, changes of size and color of your nipples and areola, as well as bigger and noticeable Montgomery glands (the small bumps around your areola). Once you're in your fourth month and later, your breasts may produce colostrum and some people have small amounts of leakage or crusting of colostrum in the nipple area. Besides clogged milk ducts, the breast lumps during pregnancy may be due to many other things such as:             •           Cysts or fluid-filled sacs            •           Galactoceles or milk-filled cysts            •           Fibroadenomas, developing in your breasts’ lobules These are benign breast conditions, meaning they are NOT cancerous.  Also, the good news is that those pesky bumps show that your body is starting to prepare to nourish your little one! And when you choose to breastfeed, it can reduce the risk of breast cancer in the future. Furthermore, it's great that you are aware of the changes in your breasts during and after pregnancy. Since they change a lot, it's a great time to log in your breast shape and present feeling in a diary. If you do have a new breast lump or changes in the existing lump that has already been checked out, you should still have it checked with your doctor as any change could be a sign of an early or new cancer.  If your breast lumps are caused by clogged milk ducts, it can feel a bit uncomfortable from the tenderness.  Fortunately, you can help make your breasts feel a bit better by applying a warm compress to the affected area regularly. Or, you can run warm water on the lump while you shower. You can also try to massage the lump and clogged duct to unclog the milk buildup, eliminating or reducing the lump size.  Again, if the lump doesn’t get any better in a day or so, do check with your doctor as you might need antibiotics or surgery to relieve the issue.  If you’re worried that it’s breast cancer, your feelings are valid. It’s also best to know how to tell if your lumps are a sign of the condition. Breast cancer lumps aren’t usually red or painful when they appear, and they won’t clear up after hot water and/or a massage or antibiotics.  However, it can be difficult to distinguish the difference between benign and cancerous lumps, so if you feel anything suspicious in your breast, among any other new symptoms, then do get it checked immediately.  Wrapping It UpHopefully, our article on breast lumps during pregnancy informed you of the possible causes of a new lump during pregnancy. If you have a lump in your breast, make sure to get it checked out as soon as you can.
4 min read
breastfeeding let down

What is Breastfeeding Let Down and is it Bad?

In terms of breastfeeding, “let down” is a good thing. It is a reflex that the body uses to let mom know that the mammary glands are ready to release the milk they have produced.  This let down can be indicated by a tingling sensation. If feeding is overdue, there can also be a small discharge of milk. These drips can also occur if you hear your baby cry, or even if you just think about your new little one.The technical term is milk ejection reflex or MER. As baby latches on and begins to suck, the brain receives a signal to release the hormones prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin allows the body to produce milk and oxytocin is the trigger for the let down.The sensation varies from woman to woman.  Some feel pressure, warmth, or prickly feelings (like pins and needles) or burning.  Let down actually occurs several times during the feeding process, but it is usually only the first release that are noticeable.  The sensations differ from slight discomfort to pain.  Some women don’t feel anything and that is also normal.  As long as the baby is feeding sufficiently and progressing, there should be no concern.  However, if baby is not getting enough milk, you should contact your physician or lactation consultant.  A significant decrease in milk may result in your child not receiving enough nutrition and the resulting milk production to continue to decrease.If there are issues with breastfeeding, some of the origins could be from:Follow your medical professional’s instructions, but here are a few things you might want to try.If you create a routine, you can condition your bodily response appropriately.Remember that this is a reflex reaction.  If you create a routine, you can condition your bodily response appropriately.  This should include looking at, touching and smelling your child, settling with the baby skin to skin, and an area free of distractions or with calm music playing.Nursing your newborn for at least the first six months provides baby with nutrients and antibodies.  It also helps with the bonding process and is beneficial for both mother and child.  In addition, it saves money on formula and has been shown to accelerate maternal weight loss.  
3 min read

What causes breast pain?

The real answer is . . . We don’t know. But we do know there’s a 99% chance it’s NOT cancer (Kushwaha et al.). Breast pain is extremely common and as many as 70% of women will experience it at some point in their lifetime (Kataria et al.). Sometimes it is a dull ache, like increased heaviness and sensitivity that corresponds with the menstrual cycle. Sometimes it’s in both breasts, sometimes only one. Pain which fluctuates with the cycle is called “cyclical pain”. What scares women is when it’s a sudden, sharp pain in one area in one breast. That is referred to as “focal pain”. Focal pain is more likely than cyclical pain in women in their 40s and 50s. In multiple studies conducted among women with focal breast pain and no other symptoms, 1% were found to have breast cancer. Breast cancer is far more likely to present with an abnormal finding on a mammogram or a lump in the breast, Regardless, we ALWAYS double check with imaging tests. The best test is an ultrasound to check the area(s) of pain and sometimes a mammogram as well. Occasionally the ultrasound will show a cyst in the area which is causing the pain, but most of the time, there’s nothing there.most commonly what’s seen is normal, healthy breast tissue and nothing which looks abnormal on the imaging tests. “So what’s causing my pain then, Doc? Can you fix it??” is the conversation which starts as soon as I tell someone we didn’t find any cause for the pain. The truth is hormonal changes in the breast are complicated and we don’t know the exact cause or the best treatment for breast pain. There are ongoing studies and theories, but we are still working on understanding the interactions between breast tissue and the rest of the body. Additionally there are other disorders which can cause referred breast pain, such as inflammation of the cartilage of the ribs. Even if the cause or an easy fix for breast pain has not been identified, there are treatment options available. Studies have shown that over 70% of women wear improperly fitting bras and switching to a more supportive bra or a sports bra will help. Non steroidal anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen have also been shown to be effective in 80% of women (Kataria et al). For focal pain, there is a topical version of Ibuprofen which works better than other treatments. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and acupuncture which work for other forms of pain may also help. But as you probably noticed, none of these are treatments designed to treat only breast pain specifically. Studies on breast specific pills such as evening primrose oil and danazol have not had convincing enough results to recommend them for everyone. Additionally, they can have serious side effects such as diarrhea or facial hair growth. Most of the time breast pain goes away on its own, especially as we get older and our breast tissue becomes less active. Studies have shown that non cyclical breast pain may resolve on its own in up to 50% of patients (Kataria et al.). If not, changing bras and/or taking Ibuprofen may help. If none of the above works, there are other medications which are worth trying. Before taking anything, please discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor and decide on a plan that works for you. After reading this if you develop breast pain, what should you do? If it’s new and doesn’t go away in a day or two, see your primary care doctor or Ob Gyn. Make sure your care plan includes an ultrasound and/or mammogram and not just a physical exam. If your doctor doesn’t order an imaging test - don’t be afraid to ask about it. Your care plan is always something you should fully understand. If you’re worried about insurance coverage, new breast pain is a clear indication for an imaging test, even if you’ve had a normal mammogram recently. You should not have to pay out of pocket, provided your insurance covers imaging studies at baseline. Once you get the ultrasound +/- mammogram, be prepared for the results. Most of the time there won’t be a cause for your pain and sometimes that’s hard to hear. The most important thing is that cancer has been ruled out.Even if we don’t know the cause we do have treatment options. You will expand on your care plan with your doctor - you do not have to keep living with breast pain! In most situations, one of the above mentioned treatments works well, or in some women, the pain gets better on its own. It may take some trial and error to figure out the best combination of therapies for your pain. Rest assured, you will not need another doctor’s visit or repeat imaging.However, if the pain is persistent despite treatment or you develop new breast pain, have it checked out. Don’t assume it’s nothing because you’ve had negative imaging tests recently. You should feel empowered to consult your physician with ANY new breast symptoms, not just breast pain. And of course, if you’re over 40 or have a strong family history, make sure you get yearly mammograms and take control of your breast health!Dr. Amani Jambhekar MDBoard Certified in General SurgeryFellowship Trained in Breast Surgical OncologyKataria, et al. “A Systematic Review of Current Understanding and Management of Mastalgia.” Indian J Surg. 2014 Jun; 76(3): 217–222.
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