Breastfeeding is a tough job. From late night feedings to milk supply issues, sometimes breastfeeding can wear a mom down. Breastfeeding on top of having an autoimmune disorder can be even tougher. Interesting enough, one out of five people are living with an autoimmune disorder, with two thirds of that number being women alone.
You may be wondering, “What is an autoimmune disorder?” Good question. In simpler terms, it is when the immune system can’t tell the difference between normal and abnormal cells and essentially causes the body to attack itself. One of the more common autoimmune disorders is Crohn’s disease. With this illness, the immune system is confused into attacking the digestive system, which in turn causes ulcers to form in the intestinal lining, causing an entire range of problems for the person suffering from it. Those who suffer from Crohn’s disease often deal with intense stomach cramps, digestive issues, diarrhea and nutritional deficiencies, just to name a few problems.
Breastfeeding & Crohn’s Disease
Now back to breastfeeding…imagine having to deal with all of those side effects on top of nursing your baby. Sounds difficult, right? It is. Especially because there is no cure for Crohn’s disease. You also have to take into account that because you are breastfeeding, you need to watch what medicines and treatments go into your body.
Thankfully, there are many natural remedies and tricks to help you control your Crohn’s disease and keep you in remission:
- Maintain a healthy diet and avoid fatty foods. Butter, margarine and foods that are fried or are covered in cream sauces are big no-no’s!
- Watch your fiber intake as a high amount of fiber in the body can make symptoms skyrocket.
- Avoid lactose. Again, lactose can increase your chances of a flare up.
- Try using a probiotic. Kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut are just a few foods with probiotics that you can incorporate into your diet. Of course, it is always smart to talk to your healthcare provider about which probiotic is best for you, especially if you are breastfeeding.
- Try adding foods with prebiotics into your diet. Foods with prebiotics include onions, garlic, bananas and honey.
- Acupuncture. Again, run this by your doctor before trying it. Acupuncture has been known to help block pain. Some even believe it can help increase milk supply!
- Stay rested. Of course it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep with a baby, but try to get as much sleep as possible to stay rested. If you need your partner or a family member to watch your little one while you nap, don’t be afraid to voice your needs!
One final tip: get a breast pump to support nursing. If breastfeeding is causing too much stress for you but you still want to be able to give your baby breast milk, try using a breast pump to express your milk. Pumping can take away some of the stresses of nursing while still getting your baby the nutrients she needs. Plus, most insurance plans will even cover a double electric one for free!