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Breastfeed or not Breastfeed

There is no doubt from a TICM perspective that breastfeeding is the most natural and beautiful thing a mother can do for her baby. In Islam, a child is to be breastfed for two years. Apart from using breastfeeding to bond with your baby, it actually has so many health benefits for both mother and child.

Breast milk is loaded with anti-bodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. This particularly applies to colostrum, the first milk. Colostrum provides high amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA), as well as other anti-bodies . When the mother is exposed to viruses or bacteria, she starts to produce anti-bodies. Those anti-bodies are the passed onto the baby during feeding. These anti-bodies will out do any immunisations from an Islamic viewpoint and your child is less likely to get sick as long as the mother is eating as per Qur’an and Sunnah guidelines.

Middle ear infections: 3 or more months of exclusive breastfeeding will reduce the risk by 50%, while any breastfeeding will reduce it by 23%.

Gut infections: breastfeeding is linked with a 64% reduction in gut infections, seen for up to 2 months after breastfeeding stops.

Weight: breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain and helps prevent childhood obesity. Studies show that obesity rates are 15–30% lower in breastfed babies, compared to formula fed babies.

Smarter babies: there is a difference in brain development between breastfed and formula fed babies. This difference is due to the physical intimacy, touch and eye contact associated with breastfeeding.

Uterus: during pregnancy, your uterus grows immensely, expanding from the size of a pear to filling almost the entire space of your abdomen. After delivery, your uterus goes through a process called involution, which helps it return to its previous size. Oxytocin, a hormone that increases throughout pregnancy, helps drive this process.

Depression: post-partum depression can develop shortly after childbirth. It affects up to 15% of mothers. Women who breastfeed are less likely to develop post-partum depression, compared to mothers who wean early or do not breastfeed. There is nothing more special than the bond between mother and child while nursing. Unfortunately, that is not always easy. Some mothers struggle with this and it can be incredibly frustrating and upsetting. Though it is completely natural, there are some things you can do to aid in the process. If your breasts are not making enough milk, see your TICM doctor who will assist in increase of milk production.

Hydration: the exact number of fluid intake may vary per individual, but you should aim to have at least 2 litres of water per day.

Eat well: a breastfeeding mother need more nourishment. Choose nutritious food that give you energy, such as protein rich foods like oatmeal, eggs, and veggies. These foods help boost their supplies. Eat as per Qur’an and Sunnah guidelines.

Essential vitamins: calcium, vitamin D, iron, folic acid are important vitamins and minerals for breastfeeding mother’s and please get these through foods and not supplements.

Schedule: nursing babies do not follow a schedule. So, try to go with the milk flow and follow your baby's cues, especially when your baby is still a newborn. Lactation consultants often recommend feeding on demand, which means that every time your baby is hungry, you feed them. This certainly is not always possible, especially for mothers who work outside the home. You do also have to take your mental health into consideration as well. But, if you are looking for a boost, feeding on demand may be the way to go.

Feed equally: milk production is a demand supply system so the more often baby feeds, the more milk production occurs. When your breast is fully empty, it sends a message to your brain to produce more milk. Added bonus is when your baby completely empties a breast, they are sure to get all the foremilk and fatty hindmilk behind it, which is great for their development.

Galactogogues like fenugreek, blessed thistle can be taken separately or in a combo formulation. Fenugreek can have mixed results when taken by itself. For some women, it really helps, but for others it may not make a difference or even reduce supply.

Longan fruit tea: increases milk supply. This fruit is also known to assist those suffering from mental health issues such as depression and a herb I often use as part of a calming formula.

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