Why Breastfeeding Mothers Should Not Take Alcohol?

Bringing a child into the earth is a huge responsibility. In the first nine months of its life, the child derives its nutrition from the mother. During this period, everything the mother eats makes its way to the baby. However, the responsibility of the mother does not end there itself. Post-delivery, the mother nurtures the child with her breast milk. This process is known as lactation and the woman is said to be a lactating mother. In fact, paediatricians recommend that in the first six months, post the delivery, a child should not consume anything other than breast milk.

Now, as is obvious from the nature of breast milk, the nutritional value of a fraction of what the mother consumes makes its way to the breast milk that is supposed to sustain the child. In such a period, the mother must take special care to ensure that she consumes food that is high on nutritional value. She should avoid smoking cigarettes or the consumption of alcohol. In fact, among all other things, alcohol consumption by a lactating mother is what is considered to be the most dangerous. This article explores why women who are breastfeeding should not take in any form of alcoholic beverages.

alcohol and breastfeeding chart
  1. Breast Milk In The First Few Months
  2. Postpartum Alcohol Consumption
  3. Alcohol In Breast Milk
  4. Decrease In Nutritional Value
  5. Decrease In Immunity
  6. Child's Brain Development
  7. Improper Feeding And Sleeping Patterns
  8. Lack Of Child Care

· Breast Milk In The First Few Months

The human breast milk is loaded with the goodness of a number of nutrients. As a result, you do not really have to feed your child with anything else in the first six months of his or her life. Such is the wholesomeness of breast milk that the child does not need to even have drinking water in addition to it. Research has shown that children who are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of his or her life tend to become much healthier in their later years.

· Postpartum Alcohol Consumption

Studies have confirmed that consumption of alcohol in the first few days after delivery (the period that is known as postpartum) results in your child taking in 20% lesser quantity of breast milk than what he would normally do. As the breast milk is the child's only source of nutrition, something like this will result in both short as well as long-term implications for his or her health. Thus, it is advisable that a lactating woman does not consume alcohol for the entire period during which she is breastfeeding. This is because alcohol consumption by the mother will ensure that the alcohol makes its way to the breast milk that is fed to the child.

· Alcohol In Breast Milk

Whatever the mother consumes makes its way to the breast milk. Research has confirmed that whatever quantity of alcohol the mother consumes, 0.5% to 3.3% of that is conveyed to the breast milk. Thus, while the values of 0.5 and 3.3 might look very small to you, the fact is that for mothers who consume alcohol on a regular basis, the same will prove to be detrimental and may result in long-term damage. Research has confirmed that the presence of alcohol in breast milk leads to lower cognition in kids.

· Decrease In Nutritional Value

The breast milk contains a certain proportion of all the vital nutrients that are necessary. Now if a fraction of that is taken up by alcohol, it is obvious that the overall nutritional value comes down. To make matters worse, the presence of alcohol in the diet inhibits the absorption of folate and other nutrients. The human breast milk is rich in folate, which is an important nutrient, that is needed by the baby to grow up to be healthy and strong and fight ailments like anaemia. This is usually absorbed by the baby's intestines. If there is a presence of alcohol in the breast milk (even if it is in very small quantity), it can be assured that there will not be any proper nutrient absorption for the baby.

· Decrease In Immunity

Once the baby is out of the womb, it needs to brave difficult conditions and survive it all. For that, it needs proper immunity. It is the breast milk that the mother feeds it that makes it strong enough to battle microbes and germs and lead a healthy life. Now, if the breast milk that the mother feeds it has alcohol in it, there will not be enough absorption of immune boosters. As a result, the child may grow in size, but it will have very poor immunity. This can make him or her fall prey to a number of different ailments later in life.

· Child's Brain Development

Presence of excess quantity of alcohol in the brain may cause lifetime damage to your newborn child. First and foremost, these people are the ones who are at a higher risk of having liver damage in the future. Moreover, another very serious condition that can occur due to the presence of alcohol is the rapid degradation of brain cells in kids that, in extreme cases, can lead to the wet brain as well. Thus, for the sake of the active brain development of your child, you must ensure that you do not consume any form of alcoholic beverages while you are breastfeeding.

· Improper Feeding And Sleeping Patterns

It is often seen that children who are fed breast milk that has alcohol traces are nagging in nature and rather tend to cry more often. The main reason for this may be attributed to the fact that these children do not tend to get proper sleep. As a result, their feeding patterns also change and that only complicates matters. Alcohol in breast milk is known to reduce the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. In such a scenario, even if the child does sleep, the sleep is usually not as deep as it would normally be. In extreme cases, the alcohol in breast milk often alters the taste of breast milk and infants are seen to develop a distaste for it. As a result, there is a loss of appetite and the child does not gain weight in a manner that is expected of him or her. All of this naturally makes the child crankier.

· Lack Of Child Care

It is a well-established fact that the consumption of alcohol makes any human being a little less alert than what she would normally be. The coordination between the different limbs reduces (as does the hand-eye coordination). Now, taking care of a small infant is something that requires a lot of attention and you cannot afford to go lax here. You need to be on your toes all the time in order to ensure that your child is fine. At such a time, consumption of alcohol on your part will not only prove to be detrimental to your little one's health, but also to his or her safety as well.

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    Read more about: alcohol breastfeeding
    Story first published: Wednesday, August 1, 2018, 15:30 [IST]
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