Benefits of Breastfeeding
The prevalence of obesity has increased in Germany and is continuing to rise. For this reason, the topic is of great relevance in the setting of pregnancy care. The authors write that interventions have not been found to be successful and that therefore preventive measures are gaining in importance. In this context, it is important not only to consider pregnancy, but also the actual birth and breastfeeding.
The long-term effects for mothers are positive: on the one hand, if they breastfeed for more than three months, this leads to long-term changes in their metabolism and helps prevent type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, breastfeeding also protects mothers from cardiovascular disorders. Both these facts are important, especially in obese women, because they often develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancies (1–3).
The authors also described (4) effects on the newborns of overweight mothers. Postnatally, the risk for hypoglycemia is raised. Early colostrum feeding, 30 minutes postpartum in the delivery suite, is the best prevention (AWMF [Association of the Scientific Medical Societies in Germany] guideline on caring for healthy and mature neonates born to diabetic mothers).
There is hardly any primary prevention method that yields a comparable success to breastfeeding for children regarding overweight when they are older.
As obesity impairs lactogenesis phase II, these women breastfeed less and their breastfeeding period is shortened, the topic of breastfeeding should be discussed with those women during their pregnancies. Gynecologists have a crucial role in this. It may be valuable in terms of supporting health promotion in women and their babies to recommend that they book an antenatal appointment with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in the Professional Association of Lactation Consultants in Germany.
Gudrun von der Ohe
Physician and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
Conflict of interest statement
The author is on the staff of the European Institute for Breastfeeding and Lactation (www.stillen-institut.com) and is an expert adviser with the WHO/UNICEF initiative “Verein Babyfreundlich” (www.babyfreundlich.org).
|1.||Much D, Beyerlein A, Kindt A, et al.: Lactation is associated with altered metabolomic signatures in women with gestational diabetes. Diabetologia 2016; 59: 2193–202 CrossRef MEDLINE|
|2.||WHO (eds.): Impact of breastfeeding on maternal and child health. Acta paediatrica 2015; 104 (Issue Supplement S46): 1–134. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/16512227/104/S467 (last accessed on 14 June 2018)|
|3.||Hansen K: Breastfeeding: a smart investment in people and in economies. The Lancet 2016; 387: 10017 CrossRef|
|4.||Stubert J, Reister F, Hartmann S, Janni W: The risks associated with obesity in pregnancy. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2018; 115: 276–83 VOLLTEXT|