Is B.O. a Breastfeeding Requirement?

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It’s bad enough that you’re heavier than you used to be, disheveled from sleepless nights and pulsing with leftover hormones when you’re a new mom, but do you also have to be stinky from body odor? Many new moms worry that they’ll harm their baby by using deodorant during breastfeeding, so they forgo the odor protection and sacrifice the olfactory comfort of the people around them to make sure the baby gets pure milk without any toxins. The concern is absolutely reasonable. Many strong deodorants warn against over-use because the aluminum and other materials get soaked into the blood stream from the underarm.

Unfortunately for your family, passing on the antiperspirants for the duration of your breastfeeding might be a good idea. A recent study shows that cosmetic chemicals from deodorant have been found in human breast milk, which is a clear indication that they were soaked into the skin directly from the underarm. When you breastfeed your baby, he or she might directly receive these chemicals with dinner. Few studies have conclusively explored the side effects of these chemicals in the infant’s body, but it’s safe to assume they’re doing more harm than good.

You could find a deodorant that uses only natural ingredients. Though, to be honest, I had a few crunchy roommates in college that swore by Tom’s Natural Deodorant and they might as well not have worn any. I completely understand the appeal, but I think the product is more of a placebo for the wearer. Anyway, natural deodorants are better for your baby’s breast milk, so you should consider talking to your doctor about which chemicals to look for when buying a new one.

As with most baby precautions, thousands of babies grow big and strong despite their mothers’ insistence on wearing deodorant throughout the breastfeeding process, so it’s really up to you whether or not you feel the habit is worth changing. Like I said, research does show that chemicals soak into the breast milk through the underarm, but there isn’t much evidence that states whether or not the chemicals are harmful to a baby or not.

Especially if you’re going back to work soon after your delivery or are around others, it’s okay to wear deodorant during the breastfeeding process. Just avoid heavily treated ones such as Certain Dri, and consider buying a more natural, organic brand if you can’t go au natural.

Source: Philippa Darbre: Underarm Antiperspirants/Deodorants and Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer Research Volume 11 Issue December 2009

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