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Breastfeeding and NFP

 

Breastfeeding is one of the healthiest gifts that a mother can give her baby!

Science confirms that there are a variety of health benefits from breastfeeding for both mother and child. In addition, breastfeeding plays a role in natural child spacing due to its effects on the mother's menstrual cycle. Under certain conditions, breastfeeding can cause the absence of menstruation (or amenorrhea) and therefore the absence of ovulation. With the practice of Natural Family Planning, post-partum and breastfeeding mothers may have to receive additional information from their NFP providers in order to learn how to watch for their return of fertility.

This page presents an overview of classic breastfeeding scientific information. Please be patient with us as we develop additional resources.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding--A Summary

Health and Well-Being of the Child

  • Prevention of about 720 post-neonatal deaths per year [infant > 28 days old]
    (See, Chen A. and Rogan, W. J. 2004. "Breastfeeding and the risk of post-neonatal death in the United States." Pediatrics 113 (5): e435-e439.)

  • High IQ and motor development
    (See, Horta, B. L., and Victora, C. G. 2013. "Long-term effects of breastfeeding-a systematic review." World Health Organization.  ISBN 978 92 4 150530 7; and see, Kramer, M. S., Aboud, F., Mironova, E., Vanilovich, I., Platt, R. W., Matush, L. and Shapiro, S. 2008. "Breastfeeding and child cognitive development: new evidence from a large randomized trial." Archives of General Psychiatry 65 (5): 578-584.

  • Research shows a wide variety of health benefits when pre-term and term infants are exclusively breastfed for at least six months after they are born-they receive:
    - The best nutrition since breast-milk is easier to digest and breast-milk changes with the needs of the baby adjusting to fats, proteins, vitamins.

    - Strong antibodies since breast-milk eliminates the chance of infection from water born vectors or other similar infections.

    - Protection from:     
            Middle ear infections (risk reduction is 23%-50%
    )

            Skin disorders (risk reduction is 42%
    )

           
    Gut infections (risk reduction up to 64%)

           
    Necrotizing Enterocolitis or "NEC" (risk reduction 4-82%)
                 (Note: even a 4% risk reduction is significant considering
                  that pre-term infants have a high mortality risk)


           
    Lower respiratory tract infections (72% reduction in the risk
                  for hospitalization)


            Asthma (27% to 40% risk reduction in those infants with a family history)

           
    Cognitive development (Note: studies did not consider maternal IQ or
                 home environments thus confounding results)

            Obesity in childhood to adulthood (4%-24% risk of being overweight
                 or obese)


            Heart disease


            Childhood Type 1 Diabetes (possibly a 19%-27% risk reduction)


            Type 2 Diabetes (possibly 39% risk reduction


            Childhood leukemias (15%-19% risk reduction)


            Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or "SIDS" (36% risk reduction)

    Note: The above is summarized from a report done by the Evidence-Based Practice Centers (EPC). It is a systematic review of articles for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Problem: Variable definition for breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding across studies.

Benefits for the Breastfeeding Mother Who Breastfeeds for at Least Six Months  
  • Lower rates of
    - breast cancer (4.3-28% reduction for every year of breastfeeding)

    - ovarian cancer (21% risk reduction for every year of breastfeeding)

    - Type 2 Diabetes (risk reduction of 4-12%)

    - osteoporosis

    - post-partum depression

    - high blood pressure

    - heart disease

  • Return to pre-pregnancy weight sooner than if not breastfeeding

    Note: The above is summarized from a report done by the Evidence-Based Practice Centers (EPC). It is a systematic review of articles for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Problem: Variable definition for breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding across studies.

Sources

Chen A. and Rogan, W. J. 2004. "Breastfeeding and the risk of post-neonatal death in the United States." Pediatrics 113 (5): e435-e439.

Horta, B. L., and Victora, C. G. 2013. "Long-term effects of breastfeeding-a systematic review." World Health Organization.  ISBN 978 92 4 150530 7.

Ip, S., Chung M., Raman G., Chew P., Magula N., DeVine D., Trikalinos T., Lau J. 2007. "Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries." Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 153 (Prepared by Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center, under Contract No. 290-02-0022). AHRQ Publication No. 07-E007. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

Kramer, M. S., Aboud, F., Mironova, E., Vanilovich, I., Platt, R. W., Matush, L. and Shapiro, S. 2008. "Breastfeeding and child cognitive development: new evidence from a large randomized trial." Archives of General Psychiatry 65 (5): 578-584.

Meyers, D. 2009. "Breastfeeding and health outcomes." Breastfeeding Medicine 4 (S1), S-13.


Note: Gratitude is expressed to Mary Schneider, APRN, BC, FNP, NFPE, (Institute for NFP, College of Nursing, Marquette University) for summarizing the above information
.

 

Select Articles on Breastfeeding

Breast-feeding and the Ovulation Method: A Needed Means of Ecologically Sound Child Spacing
M. Francesca Kearns
World Health Organization associate and Billings Ovulation Method teacher, Sister M. Francesca Kearns, details the health and wellness benefits found in the Ovulation Method, especially coupled with breastfeeding.

The Return of Fertility in Breast-feeding Women
Suzanne Parenteau-Carreau

Dr. Suzanne Parenteau-Carreau analyzes the correlation of the return to fertility with breastfeeding variables for women using the Sympto-Thermal Method. 


The Science and Art of Breastfeeding
William F. Walsh, M.D., N.F. P.M.C.
William Walsh, program director of the UCLA-Antelope Valley Family Practice Residency, provides  a close look into human breast development and the establishment and maintenance of lactation. He highlights the necessity of postpartum care for the mother on both the personal and societal level. 

 ResearchAlbertson, B. D.  1989.  "Constituents of saliva and breast milk." International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 1 [supplement], 53-65.

Chica-Mestre, M. D., Barranco-Castillo, E., and Soler, F.  1992.  "Breastfeeding to control return of fertility and childbirth."  Advances in Contraception, 8, 226.

Cronin, T. J.  1968/August.  "Influence of lactation upon ovulation."  Lancet, 2, 422-424.

Flynn, A. M.  1981.  "A survey of postpartum fertility studies with particular reference to the breastfeeding mother."  International Journal of Fertility, 26(3), 203-208.

Flynn, A. M., Docker, M., Brown, J. B., and Kennedy, K. I.  1991.  "Ultrasonographic patterns of ovarian activity during breastfeeding."  American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 165, 2027-2031.

Gross, B. A.  1981. "The hormonal and ecological correlates of lactation infertility."  International Journal of Fertility, 26(3), 209-218.

  _______.  1988.  "Breastfeeding and natural family planning".  International Journal of Fertility, 33 [supplement], 24-31.

  _______.   1991.  "Is the lactational amenorrhea method a part of natural family planning?  Biology and policy."  American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 165, 2014-2019.

Hatherley, L. I.  1985a.  "Natural family planning after pregnancy.  A problem for women with previously irregular menstrual cycles." Clinical Reproduction and Fertility, 3(3), 197-203.

_______. 1985b.  "Lactation and postpartum infertility: The use-effectiveness of natural family planning (NFP) after term pregnancy." Clinical Reproduction and Fertility, 3(4), 319-334.

_______. 1985. "Late infertile days in early postpartum cycles." Clinical Reproduction and Fertility, 3(1), 73-80.

Howie, P. W. 1991. "Breastfeeding: A natural method for child spacing." American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 165, 1990-1991.

Jennings, V. H. 1990. "Breastfeeding promotion in family planning programs." International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 31 [supplement], 131-133.

Kennedy, K. I., Parenteau-Carreau, S., Flynn, A., Gross, B., Brown, J. B., and Visness, C. 1991. "The natural family planning--lactational amenorrhea method interface: Observations from a prospective study of breastfeeding users of natural family planning." American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 165, 2020-2026.

Labbok, M., and Krasovec, K. 1990. "Toward consistency in breastfeeding definitions." Studies in Family Planning, 21, 226-230.

Labbok, M., and McDonald, M. 1990. "Workshop on health care practices related to breastfeeding, Washington D.C., USA."  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 31 [supplement], 1-183.

Labbok, M., Stallings, R. Y., Shah, F., Perez, A., Klaus, H., Jacobson, M., and Muruthi, T. 1991. "Ovulation method use during breastfeeding: Is there increased risk of unplanned pregnancy?"  American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 165, 2031-2036.

Lewis, P. R., Brown, J. B., Renfree, M. B., and Short, R. V. 1991. "The resumption of ovulation and menstruation in a well-nourished population of women breastfeeding for an extended period of time." Fertility & Sterility, 55, 529-536.

Pagano, F., and Barbato, M. 1992. "Lactational amenorrhea in an Italian population as an NFP method." Advances in Contraception, 8, 225.

Perez, A. 1981. "Natural family planning: Postpartum period"  International Journal of Fertility, 26(3), 219-221.

Perez, A., Labbok, M., Barker, D., and Gray, R. 1988. "Use-effectiveness of the ovulation method initiated during postpartum breastfeeding." Contraception, 38, 499-508.

Perez, A., and Valdes, V. 1991. "Santiago breastfeeding promotion program: Preliminary results of an intervention study." American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 165, 2039-2044.

Perez, A., Vela, P., Masnock, G. S., and Potter, R. G. 1972. "First ovulation after childbirth: The effect of breastfeeding." American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 114, 1041-1047.

Short, R. V., Lewis, P. R., Renfree, M. B., and Shaw, G. 1991. "Contraceptive effects of extended lactational amenorrhoea: Beyond the Bellagio Consensus." Lancet, 337, 715-717.

Zinaman, M., and Stevenson, W. 1991. "Efficacy of the symptothermal method of natural family planning in lactating women after the return of menses."  American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 165, 2037-2039.

 

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