World Breastfeeding Week 2014 – What are the health benefits of breast feeding?

World Breastfeeding Week 2014
World Breastfeeding Week 2014
Running from 1st to 7th August is World Breastfeeding Week.

As a way of showing our support for this week we thought it would be useful to share with you just a few of the health benefits of breat feeding!

“By protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding we can all can contribute to each of the MDGs in a substantial way. Exclusive breastfeeding and adequate appropriate complementary feeding are key interventions for improving child survival, potentially reducing deaths among children under five by about 20%. Early and exclusive breastfeeding improves newborn care and reduces neonatal mortality, which contributes to the majority of infant deaths. Breastfeeding has been shown repeatedly to be the single most effective way to prevent infant death; it plays a major role in children’s health and development, and significantly benefits the health of mothers,” notes World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) Chairperson, Dr. Felicity Savage.

The UK’s National Health Service website gives some great bullet points as to why you should breast feed. They argue:-

1) Breast milk is the a natural food is actually designed for your baby.
2) It is a great way of protecting your baby from infections and diseases.
3) Both mother and baby receive health benefits from breast feeding.
4) Whenever you baby is hungry food is ready “on tap”.
5) Babies love it!
6) Creates a bond between mother and baby!

And, of course , it is free!

The menopause and chronic illness – What effect did the menopause and pre-menopause have on your main medical condition?

The menopause and chronic illness
The menopause and chronic illness
A few weeks ago we ran a short blog post on Multiple Sclerosis Heat Intolerance or Uthoff’s Phenomenon. While there has been some interest in the subject there were no comments on the blog until yesterday.

A lady kindly commented “Now add pre-menopause hot flashes, which in PREmenopuase means I get hot hours!! This sucks so bad. It only gets harder.”

The comment really hit home. What really is the impact of the menopause and pre-menopause on the symptoms of a chronic medical condition? Not just multiple sclerosis, of course, but also other related chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis.

Not just that what do women do to help with any exacerbations of their symptoms caused by the onset of menopause? This is the aim of this blog post.

Firstly would it be possible for you to take the poll below so we can assess the percentages of our readers who symptoms are changed (or not) by the meno pause.

Finally it would be great if you could share a bit more in the comments section below. You may wish to consuder the following questions:-

a) What is your main medical condition?
b) What is the impact of the menopause on that medical condition?
c) How did you deal with these new symptoms? How successful were these treatment?
d) What one bit of advice would you give to a women with your medical condition who have just started the menopause?

Many thanks in advance!

The Menopause. Have you ever treated the menopause with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or other treatment?

The Menopause. Have you ever treated the menopause with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or other treatment?
The Menopause. Have you ever treated the menopause with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or other treatment?

Over the last week or so my wife and I have started to watch the US TV series “House of Cards”.  If you have any interest in politics and the goings on of the US Congress I’d really recommend it.  But TV reviewing is not really part of the remit of this blog.  The reason I bring the subject up is that Claire Underwood (brilliantly played by Robin Wright) is portrayed as going through the menopause.

Now this really interested both of us.   While the menopause is a reality for so many women it does not seem to feature much in dramas and books.  It is almost seems to be intentionally ignored.  Which is odd for an event which almost all women will experience and  is referred to by some as the “change in life”.

This leads me to the point of this blog.  We are asking our readers to share their experiences of the menopause and how it has affected their lives.

In a nutshell the menopause is when a woman stops menstruating.  This means that she no longer produces eggs and thus ceases to be able to have children.  According to the UK’s NHS web site “The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones.  In the lead up to the menopause (perimenopause) oestrogen levels decrease, this causes the ovaries to stop producing an egg each month (ovulation). Oestrogen is the female sex hormone that regulates a woman’s periods.”

In practice this can mean:-

  • Heart palpitations i.e. a change in heart rate
  • Mood swings
  • Night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Hot flushes
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Urinary tract infections

So how is the menopause treated? In fact for many women no treatment is necessary as symptoms can be very mild. But for those women who have stronger symptoms there are a number of treatments. Most notable is Hormone Replacement Therapy  or HRT. This is where the oestrogen produced by the women’s body is replaced by an artificial source. This could be in the form of a patch, tablet or even an implant.  Other women can be treated with a synthetic hormone called Tibolone which acts in a very similar fashion to HRT.

Some women have tried herbal treatments and vitamin supplements to deal with the symptoms of the menopause.

So over to you.  We are very interested in your views and experiences in and around the menopause.  Anything you wish to share will be of great interest to our other readers.  But it would be great if you could consider some of the following questions.

1)      Why does such a major event as the menopause seem to be brushed under the carpet by the mass media?

2)      What symptoms of the menopause have you had?

3)      How did the menopause affect your lifestyle?

4)      What treatments did you use and how successful were they?

5)      What one piece of advice would you give to a woman who has just started the menopause?

Thanks very much in advance.