When is it not suitable to breastfeed and the principles of breastfeeding

Breast milk is one of the most nutritious foods, and it is important for infants to consume breast milk for their overall health. However, there are situations where breastfeeding may not be suitable. Let’s explore these situations together.

Situations where breastfeeding is not recommended

  1. Chronic diseases requiring long-term medication:
    • If a mother has epilepsy and needs medication to control it, is currently undergoing treatment for hyperthyroidism, or is undergoing cancer treatment, these medications can enter the breast milk and be harmful to the baby.
  2. Acute bacterial or viral infections
    • If a mother has a bacterial or viral infection, the pathogens can be transmitted to the baby through breast milk. In such cases, medication is often necessary, but most medications can be excreted through breast milk, such as erythromycin and streptomycin, which can have adverse effects on the baby. Therefore, breastfeeding should be temporarily interrupted and formula milk should be used instead. The mother can use a breast pump to express breast milk at regular intervals to prevent engorgement. Once the mother has recovered and stopped taking medication, breastfeeding can be resumed.
  3. Radioactive iodine treatment
    • Since iodine can enter breast milk and affect the baby’s thyroid function, breastfeeding should be temporarily stopped during the treatment period. After the treatment is completed, the level of radioactive substances in the breast milk should be tested. If it reaches a normal level, breastfeeding can continue.
  4. Exposure to toxic chemicals or pesticides:
    • Harmful substances can be passed to the baby through breast milk, so breastfeeding mothers should avoid exposure to harmful substances and environments. If exposure has already occurred, breastfeeding must be stopped.
  5. Severe heart disease or heart failure
    • Breastfeeding can further worsen the mother’s heart function in these cases.
  6. Severe kidney disease or renal insufficiency:
    • Breastfeeding can increase the burden on the organs and cause damage in those with renal insufficiency.
  7. Severe mental illness or postpartum depression:
    • These conditions can pose a threat to the baby’s safety.
  8. Acute infectious diseases:
    • For example, if the mother has active tuberculosis or is in the contagious period of any type of hepatitis, breastfeeding during this time increases the risk of infection for the baby.

Breastfeeding Principles

To ensure successful breastfeeding, it is recommended to follow these principles:

  1. Exclusive breastfeeding: Breast milk contains all the necessary nutrients for infants up to 4 months old. Therefore, there is no need to introduce any other foods, water, or other beverages before 4 months of age. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended.
  2. Feeding on demand: Especially during the first month, feeding on demand is crucial for successful breastfeeding.
  3. Timely introduction of complementary foods: After 4 months, breast milk alone may not be sufficient to meet the baby’s developmental needs, regardless of the amount produced. Following the principles of introducing complementary foods for infants, such as egg yolk, mashed vegetables, and starchy foods, can help prevent anemia and other issues.

The introduction of complementary foods is essential and should be treated equally as breastfeeding. For example, purees play a role in the transition from liquid to solid foods in human diets. Increasing the variety and quantity of complementary foods not only ensures comprehensive nutrition for the baby but also prepares them for the weaning process in the future.

  1. Maternal nutrition and health during breastfeeding: Mothers should ensure a balanced diet and sufficient intake of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D to provide quality milk for the baby. If the mother lacks calcium, her body will use her own bone calcium to maintain a stable calcium content in breast milk, which can lead to osteomalacia, osteoporosis, and back and leg pain.

The composition of breast milk can change during different postpartum periods, and external factors can temporarily affect milk production. Along with proper breastfeeding techniques, it is important to maintain a balanced lifestyle, a positive mood, and avoid premature dieting. This ensures normal milk production and maintains the nutritional and immunological components of breast milk.

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