Breastfeeding is lauded worldwide as one of the healthiest things mothers can do for their babies. And after nursing my two daughters for a combined three years, I'll be the first to jump up and sing its praises. The nutritional benefits for both mom and baby are so vast that experts haven't even discovered them all yet. The relational bond it forms and sense of pride that arises from nourishing your baby with your own body is unlike any other. However, like anything, there are a few breastfeeding risks you should know about if you haven't already taken the proper precautions to take care of yourself and your baby while you're nursing.
Like every aspect of motherhood, breastfeeding can take its toll on a mother's body, if she doesn't take necessary steps to ensure that she is as healthy as possible. Similarly, although the risks for baby are vastly different than they are for mothers, there are certain scenarios where drinking a mother's breast milk could be dangerous for babies (such as when drugs and alcohol are present in the milk.)
So while breastfeeding is still recommended for babies everywhere, according to Dr. Sears, like all good things in life, when not handled properly, it can be less beneficial than it should be. Here are a few of the risks, albeit small ones, that come with breastfeeding.
1. You Can Get Dehydrated
It requires a lot of water to produce breast milk ,and every nursing mom knows the pain of sitting down to a breastfeeding session without any water nearby. If you feel ravenously thirsty when you sit down to nurse, it's likely because you're not getting enough water throughout the day, according to Babble. Dehydration can cause dizziness, fever, and lower the fluid content of your water, according to Dr. Sears who recommends moms drink "enough to quench (their) thirst plus a bit more,"
2. You Can Become Exhausted
Although some degree of exhaustion is simply part of the motherhood gig, when you're breastfeeding, your body is working hard to produce milk. Burning calories and getting little to no sleep can be a dangerous combination if you're not intentional about taking care of yourself, according to New Parents. Aside from drinking enough water, you'll also need to eat a healthy diet, and be sure to get enough sleep.
3. You May Suffer From Breast Pain
Although you shouldn't feel pain when you've established a healthy latch, an improper latch is a common cause of pain while breastfeeding. According to Parents, if you're experiencing pain during breastfeeding, schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant to help resolve the issue right away.
4. You Breastfeed Under The Influence Of Alcohol Or Drugs
Although a drink here and there won't pose any negative risks to your baby (as long as you follow the proper precautions), drinking excessively or using other drugs while breastfeeding is unhealthy and dangerous for both of you. According to La Leche League International, the amount of alcohol (or drugs) that passes into your breast milk is proportional to the amount you consume. Although the risks are obviously higher when you're pregnant, breastfeeding poses similar risks of illicit drug use for nursing moms and their babies as well.
5. You Breastfeed And Smoke
According to News Medical, mothers who smoke while lactating produce less milk due to suppression of the hormones that make milk. Similarly, there are risks to the baby such as secondhand smoke inhalation, increased risk of respiratory infections, and increased risk of SIDS.