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World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August. The aim for the week is to promote breastfeeding and improve babies health globally. This year, the theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2021 is 'Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.'
Plant-based substances are known to play significant roles in medicine. Curcumin, a primary curcuminoid in turmeric, has many health-promoting benefits for people of all age groups and medical conditions, including new moms.
Maternal nutrition is an essential factor as it is related to both offspring and maternal health in the short and long term. Turmeric or Haldi, a commonly used culinary herb, might prove to be a wonder herb during both pregnancy and post-pregnancy.
In this article, we will discuss some of the amazing health benefits of turmeric for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Take a look.
Benefits Of Turmeric For Pregnant Women
1. Reduces the risk of gestational diabetes
Dynamic changes in hormones, metabolic and cytokines during pregnancy may lead to the development of insulin resistance and cause gestational diabetes with short and long-term consequences for both mother and the baby. According to a study, 100 mg/kg curcumin may reduce glucose levels and improve oxidative stress by day 20, thus causing positive effects on pregnant women and fetuses. 
2. Reduces the risk of preeclampsia
Certain cardiovascular changes occur during pregnancy to ensure the increased metabolic demand by the mother and the baby and proper blood circulation for foetus growth. Preeclampsia or high blood pressure during gestation often begins after 20 weeks and if not managed, can lead to complications or mortality. According to a study, 0.36 mg/kg of curcumin can help reduce cytokines that contribute to preeclampsia. 
3. Helps in fetus growth and development
A good intrauterine environment plays a vital role in fetal growth and development and maternal malnourishment can negatively affect this leading to adverse outcomes on both the mother and the child. According to a study, 100 mg/kg day of curcumin from gestational day 1.5-19.5 can induce strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory responses and improve fetal birth weight, reduce inflammation and oxidative damage, and thus, cause significant fetus growth and development at a genetic level. 
4. Reduces toxicity
Maternal exposure to chemicals and natural toxic agents like smoking, drugs and alcohol can induce toxicity and affect the foetus. Studies say that curcumin in turmeric can help reduce toxicity in mother and foetus induced due to these agents. Curcumin can also help reduce toxicity in pregnant women induced due to bisphenol-A, a chemical substance in plastic and heavy toxic metals like mercury and lead. 
5. Maintains oral health
Some studies say that fluctuation of hormones during the pregnancy, especially between the second and eight months, can make women susceptible to developing pregnancy gingivitis. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effect of turmeric can help reduce the incidence and prevent oral conditions like bleeding gums, plaque and gingivitis. Turmeric paste or decoction made from turmeric rhizome can help treat the condition during pregnancy. 
Benefits Of Turmeric For Breastfeeding Women
1. Treats postpartum depression
The postpartum period is crucial as women are prone to developing mental disorders like depression, leading to severe consequences for both mother and the baby. Postpartum depression can occur in around 10-20 per cent of women and is often underestimated. Curcumin has antidepressant and neuroprotective benefits. It can influence the release of happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine and may reduce depressive symptoms post-pregnancy. 
2. Diminishes stretch marks
Turmeric is largely used to treat skin problems, including pregnancy-related skin problems like stretch marks. Turmeric has wound-healing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial and antineoplastic properties. It can help improve blood circulation in the area, promote healing of wounds and tissue building and thus, can help reduce stretch marks. 
3. Promotes lactation
Turmeric is known as a galactagogue herb (promotes lactation) in many studies, however, the mechanism is still unclear. Curcumin in turmeric may help improve blood supply, treats clogged milk ducts and thus, enhances the production of milk. The herb has been used since ancient times and recommended to be included in daily diet by breastfeeding mothers in a sufficient quantity.
4. Prevents mastitis
Mastitis is a common condition in breastfeeding women characterised by the inflammation of the breast tissues causing breast pain, infection and swelling and clogged milk duct. A study has shown that curcumin-based cream can help prevent mastitis in lactating women when applied topically on the breast three times a day for three days. This is due to the antimicrobial anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric. 
5. Manages cholesterol
Compared to non-pregnant women, cholesterol levels rise in pregnant women especially during the second trimester, and if not checked, can cause weight gain and obesity in new moms or breastfeeding women. This could be due to changes in steroid hormones and metabolism.  Turmeric has lipid-lowering effects and can help reduce cholesterol levels post-pregnancy, thus reducing the risk of obesity and heart diseases. 
Other Benefits Of Turmeric For Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
- Can help boost immunity.
- Can help treat flu and other infections.
- Can promote digestion and reduce the risk of constipation during pregnancy
- Can uplift the mood and reduce anxiety.
- Can improve brain functions and memory in moms.
- Can treat perineal pain caused due to vaginal delivery.
Turmeric is a herb which makes it dose-dependent. As pregnancy and breastfeeding times are crucial, experts recommend taking turmeric in safe amounts, and if you are taking curcumin supplements, consume only after consulting a medical expert.