Did you know that breastfeeding lowers your risk of getting breast cancer? The greatest protection comes at one year of breastfeeding - whether that’s two children for six months each or one child for a year. Sometimes we only hear about the health benefits to baby from breastfeeding - remember there are long term benefits to mom’s health too! Keep reading for more ways to stay on top of your breast health.
- Know your family history. Has anyone in your family had breast cancer? Ovarian cancer? Uterine cancer? Think of Aunts, Cousins, Mothers, grandmothers and sisters. It’s also very useful to know their ages at diagnosis - this can help your healthcare provider screen you effectively and give accurate recommendations. Having family members with these pre-menopausal cancers increases your risk and may change the frequency of your screening.
- Pay attention and look in the mirror. When you get out of the shower just stand and take a look. Are your breasts symmetrical? Are there any lumps? Areas of redness? Are your nipples about the same size? Drainage or leakage when not breastfeeding? The difficulty with breasts is that they are typically lumpy and bumpy. It will be easier for you to notice abnormal masses if you get used to what your normal feels like. Most problematic masses are found by women so it’s important to be aware of your body and any changes.
- Stay current and go to your routine health maintenance exams. As women and mothers we tend to be very busy and don't have time to think about regular maintenance. Preventative exams are the best way to catch things in the early stages and hopefully avoid problems in the future. Be seen for routine physicals. Get your blood pressure checked. Have your clinical breast exam. Get routine health maintenance labs. Discuss family history. Staying healthy helps you to live life on your terms.
When you’re pregnant or have a newborn, your baby’s health may be in the front of your mind! Remember, your health is important too. Make sure you are regularly taking care of yourself before, during, and after pregnancy! Knowing your family history, being aware of your body, and going to your healthcare provider regularly are all great ways to stay involved in your breast health.
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC
This post is brought to you by our friend, Lindsey Shipley at Lactation Link – an online space dedicated to ‘Creating Confident Moms’. Lindsey is an RN, Childbirth Educator, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, cancer survivor, mom of 2. For more info on Lindsey and Lactation link, click here