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Ayurvedic perspective On Breastfeeding - Benefits & Contraindications

Abstract

Breastfeeding is more than just milk, it is moreover a representation of the cherishing bond between the mother and her child. It is very rightly said, bottles fill the tummy but the mom’s milk nourishes the soul of the baby. Not just the emotional aspect but the breast milk possesses various health benefits for both the mother and the child. There are numerous benefits of breastfeeding and ayurveda presents a very detailed description regarding breast milk which will be discussed through the following article.

Ayurvedic perspective On Breastfeeding, Benefits, Contraindications

Introduction

Breastfeeding is feeding your breast milk to your baby usually directly through nipples. There are various views regarding breastfeeding, in general, breastfeeding is very beneficial for both, the mom and the child. Breastfeeding a child is solely the mother's will. But before coming to any conclusion or making any decision, one should have the correct facts and information regarding the same. You should be very clear regarding the benefits and disadvantages of breastfeeding. This article will help you to know more about the facts and benefits related to breastfeeding.

Benefits Of Breastfeeding

There are various health benefits exhibited by breastfeeding for both, the mother and the child. The breastfeeding mother will provide nourishment to her child through the milk. This will protect the child from a variety of diseases in both the short term and the long term. These diseases may be diabetes, obesity, or various types of infections. The breast milk is easily digestible and assimilable for the child’s body. The mother is going through various hormonal changes during the postpartum period and lactation or breastfeeding will help to balance the levels of different hormones in the body. It helps to manage various hormone related difficulties faced by the lactating mother such as it helps to cope with postpartum depression, etc. As we discussed the benefits of feeding the child, the mother’s breast milk, it is essential to know about the effects of not feeding breastmilk to the child.

Disadvantages Of Not Breastfeeding

There can be various effects on the baby’s health when he/she is deprived of the nourishing mother's milk. The child becomes more prone to numerous diseased conditions such as diabetes, obesity, leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome, etc. He/she becomes more prone to different types of infections such as otitis media, gastroenteritis, etc. The mothers not feeding the child through breast may become more prone to various health related difficulties such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained weight gain, diabetes and many other metabolic diseases. After discussing the advantages of breastfeeding and disadvantages of not breastfeeding, you may consider practicing breastfeeding your child. So, to get proper health benefits of breastfeeding, it is essential to know the correct method of breastfeeding your child.

Positions For Breastfeeding

There are various postures or positions for breastfeeding, which should be practiced according to the comfort and to avoid any difficulties related to breastfeeding. Some of the positions for breastfeeding include:-

  • Cradle position
  • Side-lying position
  • Football position
  • Cross cradle hold
  • Laid back position, etc

ABC Of Breastfeeding

There are numerous tips for a breastfeeding mother, which may be difficult to remember all at a time. There are few easy tips called ABC of breastfeeding, which are-

1. Awareness

This is also called ‘on demand’ feeding. Watch your baby carefully, you will be able to observe signs of hunger when he/she feels hungry. These signs will be unique for every child. One of the most common can be, the child makes sucking noise or mouth movement when feeling hungry. So, after observing these signs, recognise it as the time for feeding.

2. Be Patient

Feed your baby according to his needs. Usually a baby feeds on one nipple for almost ten to twenty minutes. Do not hurry or stress during the feeding time.

3. Comfort

Make sure to be sited in a comfortable position before beginning to feed the baby. You can use pillows to provide support to your arm, back or legs as required. Being calm and relaxed during feed will even help in easier flow of milk from the breasts. When the baby is breastfed properly, it will help to enhance the health; these benefits will be discussed as follows.

Ayurvedic Aspect Of Breastfeeding

Breast Milk is referred to as stanya in the ayurvedic literature. There is a theory related to the production of stanya which is explained as follows. The essence of the digested food is spread all over the body, considered to be the essence of the rasa, when this rasa reaches stana, it is called stanya. Following is an explanation of different ayurvedic perspectives on breastfeeding. Acharya Sushruta mentions that the ksheer dhamnis (milk carrying channels) are constricted in young girls and these channels will dilate naturally in the pregnant women and the breastfeeding mother. There can be various difficulties related to breastfeeding faced by the lactating mother. The most common problems can be stanya vridhi i.e. excessive production of the breast milk and stanya kshaya i.e. scanty production of the breast milk. The stanya vridhi i.e. excessive production of breast milk can be managed by pumping of the breast milk. To cope up with the condition of stanya kshaya, there are various herbs mentioned in the ayurvedic perspective, known as the stanya janan dravya. The various stanya janan dravya mentioned in Charak sutra 4/12 are:-

  1. Viran
  2. Shali
  3. Shashtak
  4. Ikshuvalika
  5. Darbha
  6. Kusha 
  7. Kasha
  8. Gundra
  9. Itkata
  10. Katruna

Ayurveda recommends breastfeeding for one year and three months only. After this duration a mother can continue breastfeeding or she may gradually move to cow’s milk. In fact, breastfeeding has tremendous healing potential for both, mother and child. As we discussed all about the benefits of breastfeeding, there can be conditions in which a mother should avoid feeding the baby, which are mentioned as follows.

Contraindications Of Breastfeeding

There are some conditions in which feeding breastmilk may not be a good option for the child. These conditions can be as follows:-

  1. When the mother is suffering from transmittable disease such as HIV positive, she may transmit the infection to the baby through her milk. So, it is advisable to avoid feeding the baby in such cases.
  2. In cases, the mother is undergoing some medical therapy such as chemotherapy, breastfeeding should be avoided.
  3. The mothers should avoid the use of drugs during the feeding period. If she continues taking drugs, then breastfeeding is prohibited.
  4. If the baby is suffering from a rare condition namely, galactosemia, breastfeeding is not recommended. Galactosemia is a condition in which the baby’s body is unable to process even a simple form of sugar i.s. galactose. Galactose is present in milk, hence it is recommended to avoid feeding breastmilk to the child in such a condition.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, it can be concluded that breastfeeding the child will impart a variety of health benefits to both the mother and the child. A lactating mother should always practice a healthy diet and lifestyle in the period of lactation. This will help to maintain the health of both the child and the mother.

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Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan

MD (AYURVEDA)

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