Embracing Motherhood: UHAPO Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week is an annual event celebrated around the world from August 1 to August 7. It aims to promote and support breastfeeding, raise awareness about its importance, and highlight the health benefits for both infants and mothers.
The event was first launched by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in 1992, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. Each year, World Breastfeeding Week has a specific theme to focus on different aspects of breastfeeding and maternal health.
Breastfeeding has been proven to provide numerous health benefits for infants, including essential nutrients, antibodies, and lower risk of infections and chronic diseases. Additionally, breastfeeding also benefits mothers by promoting faster postpartum recovery and reducing the risk of certain cancers and other health issues.
Uhapo helps educate people about breastfeeding practices, tackle barriers that hinder breastfeeding, and support mothers in making informed choices for the health and well-being of their babies.
Breastfeeding while fighting cancer: Do’s and Don’ts
Breastfeeding while fighting cancer can be a challenging and complex situation that requires careful consideration and guidance from healthcare professionals. It’s essential to maintain the health and well-being of patients.
- Consult a healthcare specialist – Talk to your medical professional or lactation specialist who is experienced in handling situations of cancer and breastfeeding.
- Weigh the benefits and risks – Consider the potential benefits of breastfeeding with your baby’s health and bonding along with risks associated with specific types of cancer.
- Monitoring of health – Regularly monitor your health and promptly discuss any changes with your healthcare provider.
- Breastfeed safely – If your healthcare team considers it safe to breastfeed your baby, then you must follow the safety guidelines to eliminate the potential risks.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle – Try to follow a healthy routine by making healthy food choices to get most of the nutrients. Eat whole fruits, veggies, whole grain, and protein for a balanced diet. In addition to that, drink plenty of water as your body needs extra fluids while breastfeeding and also consider avoiding alcohol as it can be transmitted in breast milk.
- Stopping treatment – It’s crucial to continue cancer treatment as recommended by your oncologist. Stopping treatment without medical advice can be harmful to your health.
- Assuming breastfeeding is safe – Cancer treatments in breastfeeding mothers impact the quality of breast milk and pose a risk to the baby.
- Neglect self-care – Caring for a baby while fighting cancer can be exhausting both physically and emotionally. Prioritize self-care and seek support from family, friends, or support groups.
- Be hesitant to ask for help – Breastfeeding while undergoing cancer treatment can be overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to ask for help or seek support from family, friends, or healthcare professionals.
- Ignore symptoms – If you notice any symptoms or changes while breastfeeding then immediately consult with your health care professional.
How can Cancer treatment affect breastfeeding?
Cancer treatment can affect breastfeeding in various ways. The extent of the impact depends on the stage, type, treatments used, and individual factors. Below we’ve listed some ways in which cancer treatments can affect breastfeeding –
- Surgery – If surgery is performed while cancer treatment then there may be potential changes in breast anatomy that can impact milk production and breastfeeding. For example, removing lymph nodes or breast tissues can cause issues in breastfeeding on the affected site.
- Radiation therapy – Radiation to the chest area or breast can damage milk-producing glands and ducts. This can lead to decreased milk supply or even complete loss of milk production in the affected breast.
- Chemotherapy – Some chemotherapy drugs can enter the breast milk and may pose a risk to the baby’s health. During the chemotherapy treatments breastfeeding may not be safe. In such cases, doctors may recommend alternative methods instead of breastfeeding.
- Hormonal therapy – Certain cancer treatments can affect the production of milk and lactation supply.
- Targeted therapy – Targeted therapy can affect the safety of lactation. It all depends on the drugs used.
Breastfeeding and Chemotherapy
Breastfeeding and chemotherapy require careful consideration and guidance from healthcare professionals due to the potential risks associated with some chemotherapy drugs. Here are some key points to understand about breastfeeding and chemotherapy –
- Chemotherapy drugs and breast milk – Many chemotherapy drugs can pass into breast milk, and their effects on the baby are not fully understood. The safety of breastfeeding during chemotherapy largely depends on the specific drugs used and their potential risks to the infant.
- Temporary suspension of breastfeeding – In most cases, women are advised to temporarily suspend breastfeeding during the period of active chemotherapy treatment to protect the baby from potential adverse effects.
- Pumping and storing breast milk – This milk can be fed to the baby after completing the chemotherapy treatment or used to supplement breastfeeding when deemed safe.
- Breastfeeding after chemotherapy – Depending on the specific chemotherapy drugs used, breastfeeding can often be resumed once the treatment is completed and the drugs have cleared from the body. However, it is essential to wait for a period determined by the healthcare team to ensure the baby’s safety.
- Emotional considerations – The decision to suspend breastfeeding during chemotherapy can be emotionally challenging for mothers. It’s necessary for healthcare providers to offer support and guidance throughout the process.
Talk to your doctor about breastfeeding during cancer treatment
If you’re undergoing cancer treatment and you want to breastfeed talk to your doctor. Clearly express your desire to breastfeed and the importance of it to you. Be open about your willingness to do whatever is necessary to ensure the health and safety of both you and your baby.
Ask your healthcare provider about the specific chemotherapy drugs being used and their potential risks when it comes to breastfeeding. Not all chemotherapy drugs have the same impact on breast milk and the baby. If breastfeeding during active treatment is not possible, discuss alternative feeding options with your healthcare team, such as pumping and storing breast milk for later use or using formula.
Ultimately, your health and well-being should be the primary consideration during cancer treatment. The decision to breastfeed or not should be based on a thorough assessment of the risks and benefits for both you and your baby.
If your healthcare provider is not experienced in breastfeeding and cancer situations, consider seeking advice from a lactation consultant who has expertise in this area.
Each case is unique, and the decision to breastfeed during cancer treatment is a complex one that should be made in collaboration with your healthcare team. They will help guide you through the process and provide the best possible care and support during this challenging time.