When Breast Isn't Best: 6 Tips for Making Exclusively Pumping Work January 25, 2015 15:51
Many new mothers dream of breastfeeding their babies, but sometimes despite all of our good intentions and hard work, it doesn't work out. Whether it is due to illness, latch issues, or other problems, sometimes breastfeeding just isn't a possibility. In these cases, many women turn to formula, and while this is a perfectly acceptable alternative, others choose to exclusively pump. Exclusively pumping is a major commitment and is difficult to accomplish, but by following some important tips, you can make it work for you and your baby.
Don't Beat Yourself Up
Choosing to exclusively pump is not a decision that most women take lightly, and many mothers only decide to take this path after repeated attempts at breastfeeding have failed. Although this is not the path that you would have liked for you and your baby, it is important to remember that you are not a failure. By exclusively pumping, you are ensuring that your baby is still getting the best possible nutrition even though you are not able to breastfeed. Focus your energy on your baby and developing a strong bond, and don't allow guilt to affect how you feel about the process.
Get a Great Pump
The breast pump that you choose can make or break your ability to be successful at exclusively pumping. Research double-action electric breast pumps online to find the best one for you, and choose your accessories wisely. Since your pump will likely go everywhere with you, you'll want to find one that comes with a convenient carrying case and a small cooler, if possible.
Double (or Triple) Up on Pump Accessories
One of the major drawbacks of exclusively pumping is the amount of time that you will spend washing and sterilizing your pumping supplies. In order to make this process less labor intensive, consider an investment in duplicate pump parts. Contact your pump manufacturer or look online for extra tubing connectors, silicone diaphragms, valves, and horns. By having extra supplies, you won't have to wash your parts after every pumping session.
Freeze Excess Milk
Exclusive pumpers know that you'll have good days and bad days in terms of your milk supply. Therefore, it is important to take advantage of your good days and to freeze any excess milk that you may retrieve. Invest in freezer bags and a permanent marker so that you can properly label them, and clear out some room in your freezer. By stocking up on extra milk, you will have backup available in the event that a drop in supply doesn't leave you with enough to feed your baby.
Find a Support System
While breast and formula feeding mothers usually have a support system of people who understand their feeding decision, exclusive pumpers are often left out. Therefore, it is important to find someone that you can talk to about your experiences and struggles with exclusively pumping. Ideally, your partner and family will be supportive of your decision, but if speaking to them isn't an option, go online to search out birth boards and support groups targeting women who exclusively pump. These mothers know exactly what you are going through and can provide you with tips on how to make your life as an exclusive pumper easier.
Take Pumping One Day at a Time
Exclusively pumping is hard work, and at the beginning, you may question your ability to maintain a consistent and rigorous pumping schedule. You may have a goal in your mind to try to pump for three months, six months, or even a year, and the thought of keeping up your routine for that length of time may seem overwhelming. In this situation, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to take pumping one day at a time. Focus on the present day and completing all of your pumping sessions. By putting the future and your ability to continue pumping out of your mind, you will feel less stress about your situation.
As an exclusive pumper, it is important to remind yourself about the sacrifice that you are making for your baby. While your dreams of breastfeeding may not have worked out, you are continuing to sacrifice your body and time in order to ensure that your child is getting the best nutrition possible. By focusing on your baby and using helpful techniques, you can make exclusively pumping a positive experience for your family.
The ‘Hormone Cocktail’ of Birth and Breastfeeding July 19, 2014 19:16
Written By Michelle Roth, BA, LCCE, IBCLC
Mother Nature has endowed women with a system to handle growing, birthing and feeding a baby – a complex array of hormones that direct pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. In fact, these hormones can make birth easier, safer, and maybe even ecstatic or orgasmic. And the release of hormones in breastfeeding not only aids milk production, but enhances relaxation. Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding – all a part of the same continuum of sexuality and reproduction and all under the control of your hormones.
The hormonal roller coaster starts with pregnancy. A steady increase in hCG from the first week or so after conception until around weeks 8-10 of pregnancy signals that your body should produce more progesterone and estrogens. These hormones help the endometrium and embryo grow. Around week 10, the placenta takes over. Estrogen, progesterone, relaxin, prostaglandin, and more are produced to support the pregnancy. Progesterone relaxes the uterus and prepares the breasts for feeding. Estrogen increases blood flow to the pelvis. Relaxin loosens the ligaments for the expanding abdomen and impending birth. All of these hormones decline dramatically when the baby and placenta are delivered.
Researchers believe that the ‘nesting’ behaviors shortly before labor can be attributed a shift in hormones that means labor is imminent, though it’s not clear what the actual mechanism is that starts labor. The main ingredients of the ‘hormone cocktail’ during labor and birth include
Sometimes called the ‘hormone of love’, oxytocin is released during sexual activity, orgasm, birth, and breastfeeding – it stimulates feelings of love and altruism. It is also at the root of uterine contractions during labor, and it mediates ejection reflexes (such as the sperm ejection reflex during intercourse, and the fetus ejection reflex during birth). This hormone increases throughout labor and is highest at the time of birth. It makes a woman feel euphoria and opens her to interaction with her newborn baby. Baby’s body is also producing oxytocin, creating a hormonally driven reciprocity with mom after birth. Oxytocin is also needed after the birth to aid in the release of the placenta, and to decrease postpartum bleeding. Pitocin and syntocinon are synthetic forms of oxytocin used for labor induction and augmentation, and sometimes after the birth. Be cautious, as these do not seem to act the same way (in mom or baby) as naturally occurring oxytocin does.
These are ‘nature’s narcotics’ – opiate-like hormones that act as pain killers. Beta endorphins also cause feelings of pleasure, euphoria, and dependency – which can be great for bonding with a newborn baby. But these traits also mean a mom needs to turn off her thinking brain, and depend on those around her for support and advocacy. Extreme levels of endorphins can slow contractions – nature’s way of helping a mom adapt to her labor over time. These hormones facilitate prolactin release, another essential birth hormone.
Prolactin is a necessary component for breastfeeding – it is the hormone that signals to the body to make more milk. But it’s also known as a hormone of submissiveness, anxiety and vigilance, thus giving it the name ‘the mothering hormone’. Thanks to prolactin, new mothers exhibit protective behaviors to keep their babies safe, especially when combined with oxytocin.
The release of adrenalin and noradrenaline in labor seems counterintuitive – why would a woman release hormones associated with either fighting or fleeing? If a mother feels especially fearful of birth, these hormones may even cause labor to stop or slow down, and can lead to interventions such as augmentation and cesarean birth. But these hormones are necessary for the actual birth of the baby. A release of these hormones close to the time of birth give mom a burst of energy to push her baby out once the cervix is fully dilated. Levels of these hormones drop sharply after birth, but still help a mother learn to care for and protect her newborn baby.
According to experts, such as Sarah Buckley and Michel Odent, any disruption of this ‘hormone cocktail’ can have profound effects – maybe some we don’t even know about yet. Odent suggests that the hormones of labor and birth prepare a baby for extra-uterine life, and disruption of this process can wreak havoc with baby’s adaptation.
In order to make the most of this hormone cocktail, women need to feel safe, and to labor undisturbed. This doesn’t mean to labor alone, but to minimize any interruptions that take her focus away from labor. She needs an environment of privacy where she won’t need to worry about intrusions. Dim lights and warmth help, too. Help her turn off her thinking, rational brain, and let her older, more primitive brain take over.
Once the baby is born, another hormonal shift takes place. The sharp dive in the pregnancy supporting hormones gives way to an increase in lactation supportive ones. Prolactin and oxytocin are the main players in this game. Oxytocin is the milk-ejection hormone – when the nerves in the areola are stimulated, the brain sends a signal to the milk making cells to contract and send milk to the baby. Prolactin is the milk-making hormone. But oxytocin is also the ‘hormone of love’ – released to enhance bonding. Prolactin receptors are increased in the early weeks of feeding – the more baby nurses, the more prolactin receptors there will be, and ultimately the more milk mom will make. Prolactin also makes a mom feel relaxed while the baby is nursing.
Another important hormone-like substance is the ‘feedback inhibitor of lactation’ (FIL). This is released when the breasts are too full to signal to the body to make less milk. This helps to even out your milk supply to meet baby’s needs, but can also lead to low milk supply if your baby isn’t nursing often enough or isn’t transferring milk well.
You can maximize these breastfeeding hormones by nursing early and nursing often. Put your baby to the breast within the first hour after birth, and expect your newborn to nurse eight to twelve times every 24 hours. Don’t schedule feedings or restrict how long your baby nurses. Know the signs of good milk transfer, and get help if you need it.
Want to learn more? Read anything by Sarah Buckley and Michel Odent, among others. Type Ecstatic Birth or Orgasmic Birth into your web browser’s search engine, and read more about maximizing your birth hormones. Read about how breastfeeding works before birth so you are better prepared when baby arrives. And trust that you were made to grow and nourish a baby – your body knows what to do as long as culture doesn’t get in the way of your enjoying this hormone cocktail.
Buckley, SJ. (2010). Ecstatic Birth: Nature’s hormonal blueprint for labor. E-book. Available at www.sarahbuckley.com.
Nichols, F. H., & Zwelling, E. (1997). Maternal-newborn nursing: Theory and practice. WB Saunders.
Odent, M. (2007). Birth and breastfeeding. Clairview Books.
Odent, M. (1999). The scientification of love. Free Assn Books.
Riordan, J., & Wambach, K. (Eds.). (2010). Breastfeeding and human lactation. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Could Chiropractic Care Help With Breastfeeding? June 21, 2014 13:55
Written By Michelle Roth, BA, LCCE, IBCLC
Imagine your baby’s position in utero – all folded and curled. Now think about the trip your baby makes during birth. In the most favorable situations – when baby’s head is down and anterior, and mom’s pelvis is mobile and open – baby still needs to make several twists and turns to be born. Add to this a modern hospital birth – with induction, lying flat in bed perhaps with your feet in stirrups, immobility due to pain medications, prolonged pushing with pelvic movement restricted, delivery assisted by forceps or vacuum, cesarean birth, and more. It’s no wonder some babies (and their moms!) seem to suffer from physical birth trauma.
Babies are designed for birth – the bony plates of the skull aren’t fused, allowing them to move and overlap in order for the head to move through the maternal pelvis. A baby’s skull is made up of 22 bones with 34 joints or sutures; and, the structures necessary for feeding are controlled by 60 muscles and 6 cranial nerves. 1 While babies are programmed for birth and breastfeeding, if the mechanics of the body aren’t working right, the expected behaviors can be impacted. 2, 3 With so many bones, muscles and nerves involved, the chance for problems is increased, especially when the natural course of labor is impacted by interventions. 1, 3, 4, 5 In addition, even a spontaneous vaginal birth without intervention may cause changes in the infant’s spine, and this misalignment can lead to discomfort and difficulties with all the baby’s systems. 3, 6 The solution? Gentle manipulation and realignment. Treating these misalignments, movement of bones and impingement of nerves – through chiropractic, osteopathy, cranial sacral therapy, etc. – has the potential to improve feeding at the breast. 3 But this type of treatment is not free of controversy.
At the July 2013 International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) conference, Dr. Howard Chilton, a neonatal pediatrician, answered an audience question about chiropractic care for infants, saying “this type of management is unproven, has no basis in science and potentially dangerous, both of itself and from the delay in the application of sound medical and nursing procedures …”, going on to call chiropractic care “pseudoscience.” ILCA printed his comments in their newsletter for members, but also printed a response from Dr. Joel Alcantara, from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, saying, “Chiropractic is a vitalistic, holistic and patient-centered approach to patient care” and citing research for application in pediatric settings. 7 So what are parents to make of all of this? Can chiropractic care be a beneficial adjunct to allopathic medicine for babies? Could chiropractic therapy help specifically with breastfeeding difficulties?
Two recent literature reviews suggest, while more research needs to be done, the few studies available showed improvement of breastfeeding issues and other problems (such as colic and asthma) with chiropractic intervention for the infant. 8, 9 In addition, Vallone discusses several case studies in which low milk supply was resolved with chiropractic care of the mother. She theorizes that the misaligned vertebrae can disrupt nerve and hormone function, and this can impact breast development (whether before, during or after pregnancy). The type of lactation difficulty will depend on the location of the subluxation; but in the cases she reviews, spinal manipulation showed results (such as, improved milk production and infant weight gain, in addition to maternal comfort) quickly. 10
In a larger case series, Miller and colleagues looked at 114 cases of breastfeeding difficulties where standard care for the infant was supplemented with chiropractic therapy. Infants younger than 12 weeks were referred for chiropractic care after being diagnosed with suboptimal breastfeeding. In this sample, 78% of the babies were exclusively breastfeeding after finishing the course of chiropractic care, which for most babies, was 3 visits. 4
Finally, Holleman, Nee and Knaap write about a case where breastfeeding aversion was resolved with chiropractic care. An 8-day-old baby was seen with the chief complaints being latch problems and a weak suck. Along with these infant issues, the mother suffered from painfully sore nipples. While breastfeeding had gone well for the first 4 days, the baby showed preference for one breast only on day 5, and then began refusing the breast on day 6. After 4 treatments consisting of gentle spinal manipulation and cranium treatments, the baby was nursing normally again. The authors suggest birth trauma may have been to blame (induced labor and shoulder dystocia, in this case). 5
While case studies cannot provide proof that the intervention indeed led to the improvement, what they do show is that this is an area ripe with possibilities for improving breastfeeding and infant health. More study can be done to provide the evidence base for body work in addition to standard care. All of the authors suggest a collaborative approach to breastfeeding difficulties. Pediatricians, family doctors, lactation consultants, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc. should work together with the parents to plan a holistic course of treatment for the infant having feeding difficulties.
- latching difficulties, especially when accompanied by nipple pain or damage
- uncoordinated sucking, or difficulty with suck-swallow-breathe
- preference for only one feeding position or one breast, fussiness in other positions
- needing to nurse “all the time” or cannot transfer milk even though they seem to be nursing
- just as much trouble with the bottle as with the breast
- a fussy, uncomfortable, colicky baby
Openness to new modalities can often be the solution when a mom is about to give up on breastfeeding. Chiropractic care has the potential to alleviate discomfort for baby and mom, and to preserve the nursing relationship.
1Smith LJ & Kroeger M. (2009). Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding. 2nd ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.
2 Frymann VM, Carney R, & Springall P. (1992). Effect of osteopathic medical management on neurologic development in children. J Am Osteopath Assoc, 92(6), 729-744.
3 Tow J & Vallone SA. (2009). Development of an integrative relationship in the care of the breastfeeding newborn: Lactation consultant and chiropractor. J Clin Chiropr Pediatr, 10(1), 626-632.
4Miller JE, Miller L, Sulesund AK, & Yevtushenko A. (2009). Contribution of chiropractic therapy to resolving suboptimal breastfeeding: a case series of 114 infants. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 32(8), 670-674.
5Holleman AC, Nee J, & Knaap SF. (2011). Chiropractic management of breast-feeding difficulties: a case report. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 10(3), 199-203.
6 Towbin, A. (1969). Latent spinal cord and brain stem injury in newborn infants. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 11(1), 54-68.
7 Lactation Matters. (2013). A Response from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.Retrieved from http://lactationmatters.org/2013/11/01/a-response-from-the-international-chiropractic-pediatric-association/
8 Fry, LM. (2014). Chiropractic and breastfeeding dysfunction: A literature review. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 14(2), 1151-1155.
9 Gleberzon BJ, Arts J, Mei A, & McManus EL. (2012). The use of spinal manipulative therapy for pediatric health conditions: a systematic review of the literature. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 56(2), 128-141.
10Vallone S. (2007). Role of subluxation and chiropractic care in hypolactation. Journal ofClinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, 8(1&2), 518-524.
11 Ohm, J. (2006). Breastfeeding difficulties and chiropractic. Pathways To Family Wellness(11), 24-25.
Can a birth doula improve breastfeeding success? March 29, 2014 15:26
Written By Michelle Roth, BA, LCCE, IBCLC
Continuous labor support during childbirth has many advantages, including a decreased risk of interventions (including cesarean birth), less use of pain medication, and more positive birth memories (Hodnett 2013). But did you know a doula may also increase breastfeeding success?
From the Greek word for slave, doula has evolved to mean a woman who supports another woman during the birth process. During childbirth, she supports the laboring woman and her partner physically - helping mom change positions, providing massage or counterpressure, and giving the birth partner suggestions on how to help – as well as emotionally and intellectually. She is typically with the couple from the start of labor to the time of birth. Because of her presence and her trusted position with the new parents, she may be the ideal member of the birth team to help a mom initiate breastfeeding.
In an early study of the effect of doula care on breastfeeding success, researchers found that women in the intervention group (doula care) were more likely to be exclusively breastfeeding at one month after the birth (Langer et al, 1998). These women were also less likely to wean or supplement for perceived low milk supply. In closing, the researchers write, “These results provide grounds to consider that psychosocial support during labour and the immediate postpartum period should be part of comprehensive strategies to promote breastfeeding “ (1062).
In another study, Nommsen-Rivers and colleagues (2009) assessed the timing of the onset of lactation and the proportion of breastfeeding moms at 6 weeks postpartum for two groups – those with and without doula care for the birth. Compared to the standard care group, women in the doula care group were more likely to have their milk come in by day 3, were less likely to use a pacifier in hospital, were less likely to report concerns about milk supply, and were more likely to be breastfeeding at 6 weeks. After looking at relationships between confounding factors, the authors conclude, “Among mothers with a prenatal stressor, doula care was particularly effective in increasing the odds of continued breastfeeding” (172).
When studying the effectiveness of a hospital-based doula program, Mottl-Santiago and colleagues found that women with doula care were more likely to express an intention to breastfeeding, and were significantly more likely to breastfeed within the first hour after birth. The authors caution, however, that their results may not be a direct effect of a doula at the birth, since the doulas also provided prenatal breastfeeding education to the expectant mothers.
A recent study showed even more promising results. Of the women who had doula care during birth, nearly all initiated breastfeeding (97.9% compared to 80.8% in the general low-income population studied). When looking at a subgroup of women who are less likely to initiate breastfeeding, the researchers found 92.7% of African American women with doula support initiated breastfeeding, significantly higher than in the general population studied (Kozhimannil 2013). The authors suggest that “access to culturally appropriate doula care may facilitate higher rates of breastfeeding initiation,” with the key being suitable matching of doulas to the client population.
What more evidence do we need? Having doula support for your labor and birth may increase the chances of your breastfeeding. Choose a doula who shares your same values and birth philosophy so you feel comfortable and confident in her care. Ask friends, family, your care provider, or your childbirth educator for referrals or check the DONA International website for a doula in your community. Be sure to interview the doula you choose – even asking about her background in breastfeeding education and support. Let her know you plan to nurse your baby, and ask if she will help you get started. Her support may be essential.
Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. (2013). Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 7.
Kozhimannil KB, Attanasio LB, Hardeman RR, O'Brien M. (2013). Doula care supports near-universal breastfeeding initiation among diverse, low-income women. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health. E-pub ahead of print 9 JUL 2013.
Langer A, Campero L, Garcia C, Reynoso S. (1998). Effects of psychosocial support during labour and childbirth on breastfeeding, medical interventions, and mothers’ wellbeing in a Mexican public hospital: a randomised clinical trial. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (105), 1056-1063.
Mottl-Santiago J, Walker C, Ewan J, Vragovic O, Winder S, Stubblefield P. (2008). A hospital-based doula program and childbirth outcomes in an urban, multicultural setting. Matern Child Health J 12, 372–377.
Nommsen-Rivers LA, Mastergeorge AM, Hansen RL, Cullum AS, Dewey KG. (2009). Doula care, early breastfeeding outcomes, and breastfeeding status at 6 weeks postpartum among low-income primiparae. JOGNN 38, 157-173.
The Official Divine Mama Breastfeeding Diet October 01, 2013 14:32
At last! I finally had some time to put together what I think is a great dietary guideline to follow while you are breastfeeding since each day I receive so many questions about food choices - what's good, what's bad, etc. for breast milk.
While lactogenic foods are important, they are just one part of a more comprehensive diet and lifestyle plan that will help you and your baby reach optimal health while breastfeeding.
I have studied over fifty different dietary theories as a pharmacist and nutrition counselor. Unfortunately, I have found that most mainstream theories contradict themselves, making it difficult to sift through all of the information and make the best decisions for you and your baby.
From my knowledge of lactogenic foods and from my personal experiences, I’ve created an official Divine Mama Breastfeeding Diet with the intention of providing you with simple guidelines that will help take the guesswork out of your quest for wellness.
Learn more about the diet here!
Conscious Eating: Why Grass Fed Meats Are Important For You and Your Family July 07, 2013 16:25
What Are Grass fed Meats?
Back in the day, nearly all meats were grass fed. Ranchers and farmers fed their chickens, cattle and pigs by allowing them to range on the prairies surrounding their farms or homesteads. Today’s high-tech feed was not available. In the twenty-first century, grass fed meats borrow from that tradition by skipping commercial feed and even corn in favor of allowing animals to graze and feed on grass.
The process is not as simple as turning the animals loose, however. Ranchers and farmers who cultivate grass fed meats follow a strict protocol of feeding and grazing that is designed to enhance the quality of the meat as well as ensure that animal welfare standards are followed in the raising of the animals.
Nutritional Advantages of Grass Fed Meats
Grain fed animals are raised to fatten up for market as quickly as possible. In the case of grain fed beef, this means that cattle are slaughtered after fourteen to eighteen months. Many grain fed cattle are penned in close quarters for much of their lives. By contrast, grass fed cattle are allowed to graze much as they did during the nineteenth century, and are not slaughtered until they are more than two years old. As a result, grass fed cattle are leaner and have more nutritional value than grain fed cattle.
Environmental Advantages of Grass Fed Meats
Grain fed meats represent a major drain on environmental resources. Commercial feed, corn and other crops must be cultivated, which requires using land and water resources. Growing grains for grain fed meats also encourages monoculture – the cultivation of single crops that can exhaust the soil. By contrast, grass fed meats do not require the diversion of crops such as corn that could be used for human consumption. Instead, the animals graze on grass and other naturally growing plant life.
Ethical Advantages of Grass Fed Meats
Besides avoiding the diversion of grains from human consumption, grass fed meats also represent an ethical method of animal husbandry. By definition, grass fed meats are not enhanced with growth hormones or genetically altered crops to boost their growth. Animal welfare standards are also an essential element in maintaining grass fed cattle, pigs and chickens. By contrast, many grain fed animals are raised in appalling conditions, along with being fed a steady diet of growth enhancing substances.
Health Advantages of Grass Fed Meats
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, abbreviated as BSE, is commonly known as “mad cow disease.” Mad cow disease gets its name from the fact that cattle that are infected with BSE often behave erratically. This incurable condition, although extremely rare in humans, can be contracted by consuming infected beef products, primarily from the spine or brain of an infected cow. In humans, BSE is known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), which is fatal and incurable.
The practice of including parts of slaughtered animals in animal feed to be fed in other animals has been identified as a major factor in spreading BSE. Since grass fed beef is never fed renderings from other cattle, the odds are virtually zero of grass fed cattle being infected with BSE. Likewise, chickens and pigs that are grass fed are also not fed renderings from other animals, minimizing the chances that similar health hazards would ever occur in grass fed pork or poultry.
For Further Reading
- The New York Times: Where Corn Is King, a New Regard for Grass Fed Beef
- Teens Health from Nemours: Mad Cow Disease
- WebMD: Mad Cow Disease
- Whole Story: Raised to Taste Better
- Whole Story: The Scoop on Grass Fed Beef
Heard of Moringa? It's an herb that helps milk supply. June 09, 2013 00:00
For any new mother who wants to do the best for her baby, breastfeeding can easily provide many benefits. However, some women have problems producing enough milk throughout the breastfeeding years. There can be causes for low milk supply such as being under stress or having some types of hormonal imbalances. Other causes can be having duct milk damage from previous surgeries, smoking, or even getting pregnant again while nursing. When these possible causes can be ruled out, Moringa can be an option to help increase breast milk flow.
The Moringa tree was first referenced around 2000 B.C. when it was used by people in Northern India. It was believed the tree had medicinal benefits and was able to prevent over 300 diseases. This tree was also used for various reason by the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians as both protection from the hot sun and as a lotion. Maurian warriors of India ate the leaves believing they had the power to increase their strength and stamina.
Although the Moringa tree is native to the Northern part of India, it is now found in many areas of the world including Central and South America, Africa and Asia in tropical and sub-tropical climates. This tree can grow up to 12 meters high and has drooping branches on which there are small leaves that contain an incredible powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. It grows best in sandy or dry soil with bright sunshine, but cannot tolerate excessive flooding or soil with little drainage. The tree needs little water, making it a valuable commodity in drier climates.
The Moringa tree has many uses including: food for humans and forage for livestock, medicine, dye, water purification, and can also help to increase flow of breast milk in lactating women, as has been proven in studies. The leaves of the tree are full of vitamins and minerals which contain:
* 7 times the Vitamin C content of oranges
* 4 times the calcium content of milk
* 4 times the vitamin content of carrots
* 3 times the potassium content of bananas
* 2 times the protein found in yogurt
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee did a study to find out how Moringa effects the rate of milk flow in lactating mothers. Two groups of mothers were given breast pumps and asked to pump every four hours. One group was given the supplement and the other was not. The mothers in the study were asked to write down how much milk was produced each time they pumped over a three day period. The results came back showing that the mothers who had used the Moringa supplement produced more milk overall than those mothers who didn’t use the supplement.
In another such study, the same results were found. Mothers were asked to measure their breast milk production on the third, seventh, and fourteenth day of production. Although all mothers had about the same results on the third day, the mothers taking a Moringa supplement had increased production on the seventh and fourteenth days when compared to those who didn’t take a supplement. These promising results will most likely lead to even more studies showing the efficacy of the supplement on lactating women.
For any mother who struggles with not producing enough milk, the Moringa supplement may be just what she and her baby needs. There are no ill side effects and a good variety of vitamins and minerals come from it. According to both studies done, it may be beneficial for a mother to begin taking the supplement as soon as she gives birth, enabling her milk flow to increase by the third day after birth.
With permission from Hilary Jacobson, here's a great comprehensive lactogenic list of foods from her book, Mother Food for Breastfeeding Mothers...
Lactogenic foods support lactation for many reasons. Eating sufficient calories and getting an abundant supply of nutrients is helpful in itself for lactation, but these foods also contain substances that interact with and support the chemistry of lactation. These substances include phytoestrogen, natural plant sedatives, plant sterols and saponins, and tryptophan, among others. In addition, a rich supply of minerals and a good balance of fats ensure that the mother’s cells and nerves are functioning at an optimal level.
Fennel can be eaten raw or cooked, for instance, steamed, or sautéed in butter and then simmered in a bit of water. Fennel seed is well-known as an herb to increase milk production. The vegetable, containing the same pharmacologically active volatile oils, acts as a gentler support.
Carrot, Beet, Yam
These reddish vegetables are full of beta-carotene, needed in extra amounts during lactation. Carrot seed has been used as a galactagogue, and the vegetable, also containing the volatile oils and phytoestrogen, acts as a gentler support. The beet is a wonderful source of minerals and iron. Taking raw beet can help alleviate iron deficiency. These vegetables are naturally sweet, and they support the liver.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green vegetables are a potent source of minerals, vitamins and enzymes, as well as phytoestrogen that support lactation. Dandelion and stinging nettle leaves are diuretic, and can help reduce edema during pregnancy and after birth. They can be plucked from your garden in early spring and eaten whole, chopped into salad, or used to make tea. Stinging nettle can be harvested for salad or cooked as spinach. In your market, you'll find arugula, beet leaves, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, chicory, collard greens and others.
Grains and Legumes
Grains and legumes have a long history as galactagogues. The most commonly used grains include oats, millet, barley and rice. Oats are the most widely used lactogenic food in the US. Legumes to include in your diet are chickpea, mung beans and lentils.
Nuts that support milk supply include almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts. As much as possible, eat raw nuts, not roasted or salted. The taste of raw nuts will grow on you.
Oils and fats
Healthy fats play a vital role in cellular and neural metabolism. The kinds of fats a mother eats will influence the composition of fats in her milk. Please see the article “Dietary Tips for Pregnancy and the Postpartum” for more information.
The renowned expert in fats, Mary G. Enig, suggests that mothers get regular and substantial dosages of butter and coconut oil. In addition, use cold-pressed virgin olive oil, and take equal amounts of cold-pressed sesame oil and flaxseed oil in salads.
One way to balance the fats is to dribble a quarter teaspoon of olive oil, flaxseed oil, sesame oil, and a thin slab of butter over meals. Be sure to eliminate unhealthy fats such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and transfatty acids from your diet, as these will also enter your milk.
In addition, be sure to have a source for essential fatty acids. For more information, see “Dietary Tips.”
Lactogenic beverages include getting enough plain water to hydrate the body, drinking commercial lactation teas, non-alcoholic beer, ginger ale, Rivella, and natural herbal root-beers from your health food store. Check out coffee substitutes based on the lactogenic grain barley, such as CARO, Roma, Caffix, Pero or Dandy Blend. These imitation coffees usually also contain chicory or dandelion, plus malt—ingredients that are all lactogenic. A recipe for "Barley Water," a potent lactogenic beverage, is at the bottom of this article.
Garlic is famous for its medical benefits, and has a long history as a galactagogue.
In one study, babies were seen to latch on better, suckle more actively, and drink more milk when the mother had garlic prior to nursing(2). If you do not wish to eat garlic, try adding a capsule of garlic extract to a meal eaten about an hour before breastfeeding.
If you would like to introduce garlic to your diet, and are not used to eating garlic, introduce it very slowly and observe your baby’s reaction. Take only 1 – 2 cloves per day. These can be chopped or pressed through a garlic press into any food after it has finished cooking. Try it in vegetables, rice, grains, pulses, salad sauce, spaghetti sauce, or other sauce.
Our culture does not encourage eating garlic, and many people do not tolerate garlic well (or onions, another food which is traditionally lactogenic). For this reason, garlic is not recommended by the American Herbal Product’s Association while breastfeeding except under the guidance of a qualified herbalist. However, if you do tolerate garlic there is no reason that you should not benefit from it. Take garlic in moderation as do mothers all over the world.
Caution: Do not combine with anticoagulants, as garlic has blood-thinning actions.
Danger: Babies and small children should never be given garlic in any form, whether fresh, dry, powdered or in capsules, to chew, swallow, eat or suck on. Garlic is highly caustic to delicate body tissues, and rubbing it in one’s nose or eyes could be painful and dangerous. Babies will benefit from the garlic a mother eats, and that reaches him through her milk.
Ginger is helpful for the letdown and milk flow. Some mothers benefit from drinking ginger ale. Even commercial ginger ale is flavored with “natural flavoring” that is real ginger.
Warning: Do not use ginger or ginger ale in the early postpartum if there was significant blood loss during birth. Do not take ginger immediately after birth due to danger of hemorrhaging.
Caution: Ginger tends to compound and increase the effects of medication being taken. Talk to your doctor if you are taking medication, especially diabetic, blood-thinning, or heart medicine.
Sources: You can find ginger at your local grocery store. Check out stores that sell Asian foods, health food stores, and on line.
Spices in your kitchen can be used to support milk production. Try adding marjoram and basil to your meals, and anise, dill or caraway. Black pepper, taken in moderation, is helpful.
This powdered yellow root gives curry its yellow color and basic flavor. A potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, turmeric is being studied in connection with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatism, and cancer. Turmeric has lactogenic properties and can also be taken to help prevent inflammatory conditions. One half teaspoon of turmeric a day may help prevent inflammation in the breasts.
Caution: Some herbalists warn that pregnant women should not use turmeric if they are at risk for miscarriage.
Oats (Avena Sativa)
The humble oat is one of our most nutritious foods, and contains proteins, vitamins, minerals and trace elements that nourish the nerves, support the metabolism of fats, and uplift the spirit. In traditional medicine, both the seed and the leaf—called oat-straw—are taken. Oats are prescribed as a nervine tonic in the treatment of nervous exhaustion. In Europe, women traditionally take oats after birth. Oats are taken today in the US to increase milk production, both as food and as a supplement. Like other galactagogues, oats are antidepressant, antispasmodic, and they increase perspiration.
Allergy: Occasional. Persons sensitive to gluten in wheat are frequently able to tolerate oats.
Dosage and Preparation:
Taking large dosages of oats is helpful in kick-starting milk production.
Oatmeal can be taken for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Oat-straw is especially rich in minerals. It is available as capsules or as an ingredient in so-called “green-drinks.” Take as indicated on the package.
Fluid extract: 3 – 5 ml (15 – 35 drops), three times a day.
Nutritional and Brewer's Yeast
Nutritional or brewer’s yeast frequently leads to a significant boosts in a mothers’ milk supply. Mothers sometimes say that they feel much more energetic and emotionally balanced while taking yeast. This may signal a lack of essential nutrients in their diet, in particular, chromium, vitamin B complex, and especially vitamin B12, found in some brands of fortified nutritional yeast. Brewer’s and nutritional yeast also contain protein and good levels of phytoestrogen.
Allergy: Persons who are allergic to yeast should avoid these products.
Side-effects: Occasionally, mothers or babies become gassy, more so with brewer’s yeast than nutritional yeast. To be on the safe side, start with a small dosage and slowly increase.
Sources: Vegetarian stores and health food stores.
Green foods are reputed to increase the fat content of breastmilk. Some mothers supplement with chlorophyll. So-called "green drinks" can be very helpful. Their ingredients include barley-grass, alfalfa leaf, spirulina, corellas, kelp, oat-straw and other herbs with lactogenic and medicinal properties.
Caution: Chlorella, a common ingredient in commercial green-drinks, is used by medical specialists to chelate (remove) heavy metals from the body, especially mercury. If not taken at the correct dosage, chlorella can lead to an increase of mercury in the bloodstream and probably in a mother’s milk as well. It is wise to choose green-drinks that only contain a low percent of chlorella.
Sources: Super markets, health food stores, online.
Green papaya is taken as a galactagogue across Asia. It is a superb source of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamins C, A, B, and E. Green papaya is the unripe fruit, and it needs to be simmered until soft. Green papaya can also be taken in supplement form.
Allergy: Persons allergic to latex may be allergic to papaya and other fruit.
Caution: Persons taking Warfarin should consult with their doctor before taking papaya supplements.
Large, black sesame seeds are used to increase milk production across Asia. Husked, light-colored sesame seeds are also effective and easier to digest. Sesame seed "butter" known as Tahini can be found in health food stores. Sesame is our most potent vegetable source of calcium!
Allergy: Allergy to sesame is becoming more common.
Spirulina is a non-toxic variety of blue-green algae. It has been farmed in lakes and ponds as a food source for thousands of years. It is valued for its proteins, enzymes, minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, and essential fatty acids. Spirulina's nutrients are easily absorbed, even when a person’s digestion is not up to par.
It is important that spirulina be cultivated on a farm that is not located in waters that are contaminated, in particular with heavy metals. It is also advisable not to use spirulina that has been genetically ‘improved.’ Spirulina and other “green foods” may increase the fat-content of breastmilk.
Note: It is not wise to rely on spirulina as a source of B12.
Barley-water is used medicinally to treat colds, intestinal problems (both constipation and diarrhea) and liver disorders. It was recorded in Greek medicine two thousand years ago as a galactagogue. Taken for a week or two, it often helps mothers with chronic low milk supply. Make a pot in the morning and drink it throughout the day, warming each cup and sweetening it with a natural sweetener as desired.
Barley-water can be made with whole grain or pearl barley. Barley flakes can also be used, though these have been processed and are possibly less potent than the whole or pearled grain.
Prenatal Yoga: How to Get Started April 28, 2013 00:00
It might be difficult to find the time and energy to exercise while pregnant, but the benefits of doing so are numerous. Properly done, it can actually increase the amount of energy you have. It can reduce back pain, constipation, and bloating, and could even make labor a lot easier.
Prenatal yoga is a great way to stay in shape while you are expecting. Prenatal yoga will make you and your baby stronger. It does not matter whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced yogi – prenatal yoga is available to everyone, regardless of experience. There are a few considerations to be made depending on what trimester you’re in, but there are a few things that apply no matter what.
Many women around the world have only thought about trying yoga. Now that they’re expecting mothers, it’s the perfect time to try. It is important to only seek classes that are specifically for expecting mothers. Yoga looks relaxing, but it is actually an incredibly stressful exercise, one that can cause trouble if not approached appropriately.
Your regular class may still do if your instructor knows how to teach prenatal yoga. In either event, it is best to inform him or her of your condition as soon as you know so the proper adjustments can be made.
Experienced and expecting practitioners need not stop just because they’re now carrying a child. Some positions will be uncomfortable if not downright dangerous as your pregnancy progresses, so feel free to back out of more intense sessions. Do not feel obligated to do more than you feel your body and baby can take. If necessary, temporarily switch out of your current class to go to a prenatal yoga class so you can stay away from questionable poses.
Dedicated Home Yogis
Home practitioners may either continue practicing at home or sign-up with an experienced prenatal yoga class to make sure that you’re doing it right. If you’re confident in your skills, simply add “Prenatal Sun Salutations” to your routine. “Prenatal Sun Salutations” start in Tadasana, with your feet set as wide as the mat. While inhaling, bring your arms up through the center, up towards the ceiling until you are into the Urdva Hastasana position.
Other positions great for Prenatal Yoga include:
- Cat-Cow Stretch: Being on all fours helps get the baby in position. To make it even more effective, you can have the relevant movements start in the pelvis.
- Utthita Trikonasana: This is an excellent pose that opens up the hamstrings, hips, and chest.
- Parighasana: Your stomach or middle can get exceptionally low on space as the pregnancy progresses, making side stretches extremely satisfying to perform.
- Pelvic Tilts: Lower back pain is common in most pregnancies. Stretching it out will offer some relief.
There are more positions. It is best to consult with an experienced prenatal yoga instructor to learn more.
Yoga after the Pregnancy
The wonderful day has come and past, but that’s no reason to stop practicing yoga. Yoga has a number of physical and mental benefits that new mothers may want to experience. Doctors, however, strongly recommend waiting for a month and a half after delivery before practicing yoga again if you gave birth vaginally. The recovery period may be significantly longer if you had a cesarean operation. Regardless of which method was used, you will have the opportunity to practice yoga again.
5 Reasons to Co-Sleep While Breastfeeding April 13, 2013 00:00
The conventional wisdom for a couple expecting their first child is to equip a room with a crib and other furnishings, to buy baby formula, bottle, and diapers, and to prepare to lose sleep. Parents often secretly expect their lives to be changed for the worse. They may cover up these fears with false cheer. Truthfully, these fears are well-founded. This conventional approach to welcoming a new child into the home is in fact artificial and needlessly painful -- it is plainly difficult. There is a much easier approach, in which parents share their bed with the baby, and the baby nurses at will throughout the night. Parents may find this way not only easier, but simpler and more life-giving. Here are five benefits of co-sleeping with your newborn while breastfeeding.
One of the greatest discomforts parents face when they relocate the infant into her own room and crib is a lack of sleep for themselves. A child separated like this may wake at any hour of the night, and cry for food or comfort. Parents are then left with a dilemma: to climb out of bed yet again and feed or hold the child, or to remain in bed and let the child "cry it out". Arguments may occur about who arises to tend to the infant. These difficulties can also occur for parents whose infant sleeps in their bedroom, but in her own bed.
This is barely a problem at all for co-sleeping families. A co-sleeping child, next to her mother and able to nurse at will, is able to rest much more easily. The child need not cry loudly to wake the parents and to draw them near; the parents are already there. All the child need do is grunt and touch the mother, and the breast is there. The mother need not even be fully awake to nurse the child. They can both fall back asleep, naturally. And there will be no arguments between parents over who will rise and feed the baby next
There are many psychologists today who argue that the conventional removal of a newborn to its own room and bed is traumatic to the infant. The argument is that the infant physically and psychologically needs the physical warmth and touch of the mother's skin. Having just come from the total comfort of the womb, she requires a far more gradual separation from the mother, taking years, rather than hours. Moving the infant into its own room so early is traumatic, and shakes her trust in her parents -- and in the world -- deeply and irreparably. Her suffering is multiplied when she is required to "cry it out". Parents may feel guilt over this separation and the suffering of the child.
When co-sleeping while breastfeeding, all this potential trauma simply does not occur. The infant goes straight from the comfort of the womb to the comfort of the parents' embrace. Needless suffering is avoided. The parents don't sever the bond of comfort and trust, so they carry no guilt. They experience greater freedom to love and help the child, and less need to "make up" for their failings.
A mother's milk is the ideal food for an infant. The best formula cannot approach its nutritive benefits. The small body of a newborn results in a fast metabolic cycle. Because an infant gets hungry frequently, often even at night, she needs to nurse frequently -- sometimes several times an hour.
When parents nurse an infant while co-sleeping, that food is always there. Since an infant does most of its growing at night, the necessary nutrients for growth will be readily available in the easily-digestible mother's milk. And the infant need not get to the point of crying or screaming before nursing, when her growing hunger is already unbearable; when nursing while co-sleeping, she can eat as soon as she is hungry. Her nutritional needs are met as soon as they occur.
One fear of expectant parents is the financial strain a new baby will bring. Many of the usual costs don't exist when nursing and co-sleeping. Since all the food comes straight from the mother, the greatest expense there is her own food. There is no need to buy formula. No crib is necessary, either, though parents might invest in a sleeping pad to avoid urine stains in their bed. Freed of the compulsion to buy new things for the home -- things often made of unattractive plastic -- the material simplicity of co-sleeping while breastfeeding contributes to a certain peace of mind. There is less clutter from "baby stuff" in a co-sleeping home -- and more happiness.
A family does not require a new room for the baby when she simply sleeps in bed with the parents. The notion of a nursery is in fact foreign to a co-sleeping family. A co-sleeping family doesn't feel the need to expand their living space. This acceptance of things as they are invites contentment and a lack of stress. With any extra space not "swallowed up" by the baby, the family can use an existing extra room for another purpose -- perhaps for a recreational, family-building purpose. Perhaps the space can be used to develop a personal hobby, or for activities toward fulfilling one's lifelong dreams. All this adds joy and vitality to a young family, rather than the nervous oppression that infects so many young parents.
Co-sleeping while nursing provides significant benefits over the conventional approach to raising an infant. Parents get more sleep, and form a deeper bond with the child. The infant receives better nutrition. Parents save money, and don't need to scramble for more space. All of these benefits, significant in themselves, lead to the greater benefit of more peace and joy in the home.
The Benefits of Coconut Oil Before, During and After Pregnancy March 16, 2013 00:00
Nothing is more important than your health – unless, of course, it’s the health of your baby. Coconut oil has recently gained wide-spread attention for its health-boosting properties. A variety of studies have shown that it can help increase metabolism, balance hormones and improve immune system functioning.
Here are some simple ways that coconut oil can support health for both Mom and baby:
- Regular coconut oil consumption can help balance hormones. Properly-balanced hormone levels make it much more likely for a woman to ovulate and to conceive.
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a rare medium-chain fatty acid that is also present in breast milk. Lauric acid is antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. Increasing your coconut oil consumption during pregnancy might help support both your and your developing baby’s immune systems.
- There is evidence that coconut oil – by helping to balance blood sugar – might help women avoid or control gestational diabetes.
- Coconut oil can help settle your stomach if you’re coping with morning sickness. While taking the oil “straight up” might be too much for some women, it’s easy to stir some coconut oil into soup, hot cereal or a warm drink.
- Rubbing coconut oil on your skin can help prevent or relieve the itching and discomfort often connected to pregnancy. Coconut oil’s moisturizing properties can also help prevent stretch marks.
- Coconut oil is an excellent personal lubricant. It can help to alleviate the discomfort of vaginal dryness, a symptom sometimes present during pregnancy.
- You can use coconut oil to treat your new baby’s diaper rash and cradle cap. It is non-toxic and very gentle on baby’s skin. And as an added bonus, it smells lovely!
- If you’re breastfeeding, you might suffer from irritated or sore nipples. Applying coconut oil can help prevent and treat cracking and soreness.
- The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are reported to help increase milk flow. Your body needs adequate fat in order to produce enough breast milk to support your baby’s needs.
- The antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties of coconut oil – mentioned earlier – continue to be of benefit after your baby is born. The lauric acid that you consume in coconut oil will be directly passed on to your child through your breast milk.
- Coconut oil is perfect for massaging your new baby. Infant massages can help calm and relax babies, and has been shown to improve sleep. Improved sleep for baby means better sleep for Mom!
Your baby is the most precious, important thing that you will ever hold in your arms. Of course you want to do whatever you can to ensure that he or she will be healthy, happy and strong. Coconut oil is one tool that can help you support both your own and your baby’s optimal health.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: Here's the Skinny on Dietary Fat March 07, 2013 00:00
While a fat-free or even low-fat diet is not the healthiest choice, there are certainly some types of fat that you'll want to do your best to avoid or limit. These are the fats that are detrimental to your health, especially when consumed in large quantities.
Saturated fat comes from animal sources. When you eat a burger with bacon and cheese, the saturated fats from the meat and dairy raise your total and LDL blood cholesterol levels. This is not good. High LDL cholesterol dramatically increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Trans fats are naturally occurring in some animal products, but most trans fats are the product of partial hydrogenation. The process of hydrogenation takes healthy unsaturated fats and turns them into fats that are more shelf-stable and easier to cook with. These fats are usually solid at room temperature, .like lard, butter, margarine, and shortening. They are often referred to as synthetic fats, and are found in a lot of the processed and prepacked food that fills most American grocery stores.
Many restaurants and food manufacturers now advertise the fact that their products are trans fat free. Be careful of tricky labeling... just because a doughnut is trans fat free doesn't mean it is good for you. It's likely to be high in sodium, sucrose (the bad sugar), or heavy in saturated fats. Your best bet is to read the label, including the little box that tells you all the vitamins and minerals (or lack thereof).
Remember, food is fuel. If you are filling up with empty calories (that's food that is basically void of any nutritional value), you won't be able to run very long before you crash.
The term “good fat” is not an oxymoron. Fats are the building blocks of the brain and are absolutely essential for proper body function, but you must be able to differentiate between the good, the bad, and the ugly... or at least the good and the bad.
Monounsaturated fat is found primarily in oils (like olive oil), nuts, sunflower seeds, and avocados. This type of good fat reduces the risk of cardiac disease and stroke, because it helps regulate LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.
That's not all, though. A diet rich in monounsaturated fats verses one that is comprised of “bad fats” and carbohydrates often results in weight loss, decreased symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, prevention of type 2 diabetes, and reduced belly fat.
Polyunsaturated fat is found in plant-based foods, oils, and some types of fatty fish. One especially beneficial type of polyunsaturated fat is Omega-3 fatty acid, found in some types of fatty fish, nut oils, and flax seeds. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Omega-3 fatty acids are a necessary component of a healthy brain, including memory and behavioral function. In fact, infants who have not received enough of this polyunsaturated fat in utero can suffer from vision and nerve problems.
Balanced consumption of Omega-3's is also associated with reduced risk of inflammatory diseases like cancer, heart attack, stroke, and arthritis.
WHAT CAN GOOD FAT DO FOR ME?
According to information published by the Franklin Institute for Science Learning, fat literally builds your brain. Fatty acids from the food you consume are the substance your body uses to build the specialized cells which allow you to think and feel.
Good Fats Build Neuron Membranes
Neurons are the specialized cells that the brain uses to communicate with the rest of the body. The membranes of these cells are comprised of the same fatty acids that you consume in your foods. The process of digestion breaks the dietary fat into molecules of different lengths. These molecules become the building blocks of the fats used in the formation of brain cell membranes.
Good Fats Protect Your Brain
Myelin is the sheath that protects the neurons of your brain. It's composed of 30% protein and 70% fatty acid. Oleic acid, the most abundant acid in human breast milk, is one of the most common fatty acids found in the brain's myelin. Excellent dietary sources of monounsaturated oleic acid are avocados, olive oil, and oils from peanuts, macadamias, almonds and pecans.
Good Fats Aid Digestion
Believe it or not, that slippery looking margarine is hard to digest. Why? The shape of a trans fat molecule is not barbed, which means lots of those molecules can clump together nice and tight. On the other hand, a mono or poly unsaturated fat molecule is barbed, which means they are loosely packed and can be picked apart by the body and put to good use. These fats are more readily absorbed and distributed to the cells that need them. Whereas the bad fats, in essence, plug you up.
WHAT CAN GOOD FAT DO FOR MY BABY?
A pregnant mama supplies two specific types of fatty acids, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and AA (arachidonic acid), to her growing baby. These fatty acids are crucial to the baby's brain and vision health. Studies have shown that a deficiency in DHA and AA can lead to impairment of the baby's central nervous system and cognitive development.
After the baby is born, the mother will continue to provide these necessary building blocks through her breast milk. Since Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential nutrients, they can not be manufactured by the body. They must be built from the foods that we consume. A diet high in nuts and cold pressed oils will help ensure that a nursing mother produces the most nutritious breast milk for her baby's growing brain and body.
HOW MUCH GOOD FAT DO I NEED?
The United States Department of Agriculture's Dietary guidelines are based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Within that framework, you should consume about 44 to 78 grams of fat per day, most of which should be unsaturated fatty acids.
Remember, even good fats are high in calories. For a nursing mom who needs to consume a few more calories, this is no problem. But it's best not to go overboard. Start by replacing a couple of beef dinners a week with fresh water fish. Snack on nuts, or non-hydrogenated nut butters on celery, instead of chips and crackers. Whip up a free-range egg white omelet for breakfast. Go for a snack bar that is full of flax, almonds, or macadamia nuts instead one that is really a glorified candy bar.
By making these simple dietary changes, you can provide your beautiful baby with the most nutrient rich breast milk possible. Not to mention that your own mental and physical health will benefit right alongside your baby's. Healthy mama. Healthy family. It's a no-brainer.
Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Dietary Fats: Know Which Types to Choose.
The Franklin Institute: Resources for Scientific Learning. Nourish- Fats.
University of Maryland Medical Center, Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
United States Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines. 2010.
There's Sugar, Then There's Sugar - Understanding the difference between sucrose and fruit sugar February 02, 2013 00:00
All sugar is not created equal.
Understanding the difference between refined white and brown sugar and the natural sugars found in fresh, cooked, or dried fruits and vegetables is essential to making healthy food choices for you and your children.
How Refined Sugar Hurts Your Body
Refined sugar, scientifically known as sucrose, is composed of fructose and glucose molecules. When you eat something containing this kind of sugar, like a candy bar or soda, you feel an instant rush. Why? Because of how the body metabolizes sucrose.
When you consume sucrose, your body instantly releases insulin to combat the rapid rise in glucose levels. Insulin's job is to help cells absorb the glucose and store it as fat for when your body needs energy later. Because the sucrose is introducing pure glucose into the body, the amount of insulin produced is overwhelming. Your liver and muscles can store some of it, but much of it will get converted into fat, your body's energy storage facility.
While that burst of energy provided by refined sugar might be good for someone performing incredibly strenuous activity, like a firefighter running up several flights of stairs or an athlete preparing for a race, for most of us it just starts a vicious cycle of insulin resistance and sugar cravings. Insulin resistance causes cells to say, “Whoa, no more glucose.” Since the cells aren't opening their doors, the body actually produces more insulin to try to stabilize glucose levels.
The bottom line is that high insulin levels build fat. That's why refined carbohydrates and table sugar, as well as high fructose corn syrup, make you fat even when they are fat free. Of course, this type of insulin regulation disorder can eventually cause Type 2 Diabetes and possibly affect heart function.
It doesn't stop there. Insulin plays an important role in regulating brain function. An inability to properly process insulin can potentially lead to psychological disorders like depression, anxiety, and memory loss. Did you ever eat a pint of ice cream because you were depressed, only to have it make you feel even more depressed? I'm not saying that the results are that instant, but the long-term correlation is there and being studied more thoroughly by mental health researchers.
Sucrose and Breastfeeding
While many nursing mothers crave sugar, it's better to grab an apple than a slice of cake. When your blood sugar spikes as a result of eating something filled with sucrose, your nursing baby's blood sugar will spike, too. Babies are not well-equipped to manage blood sugar spikes, and the unstable insulin production can interrupt the development of healthy physical and cognitive function.
The high levels of sugar in the breast milk can also cause early tooth decay, according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association. This is especially true for babies nursed longer than twelve months. Breast milk with high sugar content also increases the risk of thrush, a yeast infection caused by the high acid levels present in sugar.
Why is Natural Sugar Better?
The natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables have a different chemical makeup. Fruit sugar is simply fructose, which must be broken down into sucrose and glucogen by the pancreas before it can be used as energy or stored in the fat cells. This is why natural sugars rank lower on the glycemic index than sucrose. It takes your body time to turn natural sugar into glucogen to be used by your cells, so insulin doesn't have to rush in to balance suddenly high glucose levels.
When you consume healthy amounts of natural sugars from fruits, your body doesn't need to spike its insulin production. Just as high levels of insulin are directly related to weight gain, low levels of insulin help keep you lean.
Furthermore, it's widely recognized among the medical community that eating lots of fruits and vegetables keeps your heart healthy, your blood pressure and cholesterol down, and your mind clear. Not only is fructose a healthier form of sugar, the fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that a spoonful of sugar will definitely not give you.
Satisfying the Sweet Tooth
Even' the healthiest people want to indulge in a little something sweet once in a while, and in fact those cravings are your body's way of telling you it needs energy! But don't fuel it with calories that aren't just empty, but potentially dangerous to your health. Instead, appease your sugar craving with healthy alternatives like dates, dried cherries, dried apricots, coconut, nut butters, and a nearly unlimited variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Once you switch to these healthier alternatives, you'll start to notice that sucrose-based desserts like ice cream, candy bars, and cookies taste sickly sweet. Instead, you'll crave apples and almond butter, and your body will thank you for it.
Turner, Joel. Sugar's Negative Effect on Our Brains. Kale University. 17 May 2012.http://kaleuniversity.org/6231-sugars-negative-effect-on-our-brains/
Griffin, Sharon. The Effects of Sugar on Breastfed Babies. Livestrong. 28 March 2011.http://www.livestrong.com/article/69073-effects-sugar-breastfed-babies/
Ketterer C, Tschritter O, Preissl H, Heni M, Häring HU, Fritsche A. Insulin sensitivity of the human brain. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2011 Aug;93 Suppl 1:S47-51. doi: 10.1016/S0168-8227(11)70013-4. Review. PubMed PMID: 21864751. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21864751
National Institute of Mental Health: Diabetes and Depression. PsychCentral.http://psychcentral.com/lib/2008/diabetes-and-depression/all/1/
Effect of Fruit and Vegetables on Insulin Resistance. NIH Clinical Trial.http://clinicaltrialsfeeds.org/clinical-trials/show/NCT00874341
How Medications Affect Breastmilk January 20, 2013 21:26
At the pharmacy, I get a lot of questions about medications while breastfeeding. While it is always safest to avoid medications while breastfeeding, sometimes mothers are left without a choice if their condition puts their own health at risk. Although many medications are safe to use when you're breastfeeding, most drugs will get into your milk to some degree and may even affect your milk supply. To be safe, check with your child's doctor before taking any kind of medication, even over-the-counter drugs. The mechanism of how drugs enter breast milk is described below in addition to some general guidelines that I follow when counseling my patients.
Transfer of drugs into breast milk is influenced by protein binding, lipid solubility and ionization
This sounds pretty scientific but basically this means that nearly all drugs transfer into breast milk to some extent.
Notable exceptions are heparin and insulin which are too large to cross biological membranes. The infant almost invariably receives no benefit from this form of exposure and is considered to be an 'innocent bystander'.
Drug transfer from maternal plasma to milk is, with rare exceptions, by passive diffusion across biological membranes. Transfer is greatest in the presence of low maternal plasma protein binding and high lipid solubility.
In addition, milk is slightly more acidic than plasma (pH of milk is approximately 7.2 and plasma is 7.4) allowing weakly basic drugs to transfer more readily into breast milk and become trapped secondary to ionization.
What you should know is that milk composition varies within and between feeds and this may also affect transfer of drugs into breast milk. For example, milk at the end of a feed (hindmilk) contains considerably more fat than foremilk and may concentrate fat-soluble drugs.
As a general rule, maternal use of topical preparations such as creams, nasal sprays or inhalers would be expected to carry less risk to a breastfed infant than systemically administered drugs.
This is due to lower maternal concentrations and therefore lower transfer into breast milk.
However, the risk to the infant must be considered in relation to the toxicity of the drug used, the dosage regimen and the area of application. For example, use of corticosteroids nasal sprays or inhalers in standard doses would be considered compatible with breastfeeding.
Infants have lower drug clearance (elimination) than adults
Drug clearance in the infant is a particularly important consideration and premature infants have a severely limited ability to clear drugs.
Within a few days of delivery, term infants have kidney filtration rates approximately one-third of adult values after adjusting for difference in body surface area, and premature infants have even more impaired clearance.
Generally, adult kidney filtration rates (adjusted for the difference in surface area) are attained by five to six months of age.
Minimize risk to the breastfed infant by reducing drug exposure
The overall risk of a drug to a breastfed infant depends on the concentration in the infant's blood and the effects of the drug in the infant. If, after assessment of the risks and benefits, the decision is made to breastfeed while the mother is using a drug, the infant should be monitored for adverse effects such as failure to thrive, irritability and sedation.
However, it is difficult to identify adverse reactions occurring in neonates.
Feeding immediately prior to a dose may help to minimize infant exposure as concentrations in milk are likely to be lowest towards the end of a dosing interval. Or,it may be reasonable to reduce infant exposure by alternating breast and bottle-feeding. For drugs that are not considered safe in breastfeeding, breast milk may be expressed and discarded for the treatment duration. Breastfeeding may be resumed after the drug has been eliminated from the maternal blood stream. A period of approximately four half-lives (the time it takes for half of the drug to clear the body) will reduce maternal concentrations to around 10% of steady-state (full) concentrations.
Atkinson HC, Begg EJ, Darlow BA. Drugs in human milk. Clinical pharmacokinetic considerations. Clinical Pharmacokinetics 1988;14:217-40.
Bennett PN and the WHO Working Group, editors. Drugs and human lactation. 2nd edition. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1997.
Returning to Work or School while Breastfeeding Your Baby - Some tips for Success December 28, 2012 21:23
Congratulations on your decision to provide the best possible nutrition and protection for your baby after returning to work or school! Here are some tips to help you succeed.
Combining breastfeeding with work or school is challenging, but well worth it. The health and immunity benefits your little one gets from your breast milk cannot be matched by formula. And sitting down to cuddle and nurse after a busy day is a wonderful way to de-stress and reconnect with your baby.
Two keys to success are planning and being organized. Below are tips that other mothers have found helpful, as well as information about the federal law to support breastfeeding mothers at work.
What should you do before you deliver?
Before you begin maternity leave:
- Find out how much time you will be able to take off from work or school after you deliver.
- Take as much family leave as you can to have more time with your baby. Research your options for returning to work or school. Can you work/study part-time for a while? Can you telecommute or use distance learning? Is there a more flexible work or school schedule you can try?
- Talk with your supervisor. Will he/she be supportive? You may want to point out the company advantages of having breastfeeding employees:
- » Less time lost from work because breastfed babies tend to stay healthier than their formula fed counterparts.
» Fewer health expenses for the baby and lower overall health carecosts.
» Higher employee satisfaction, morale and productivity and lower staffturnover.
- » Major recruitment incentive for new employees.
» Reputation as a company concerned for the welfare of workingmothers and children.
- When making arrangements for childcare, choose a provider that supports your wishes to provide pumped breast milk to the baby while you are away and allows you to nurse your baby as soon as you return.
- Be aware of the laws regarding employees who are breastfeeding. On March 23, 2010, as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a federal law amending Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (29 U.S.C. 207) was passed. This law mandates break times for breastfeeding mothers to express milk.
- Find out where you will be expressing milk for your baby. Does the room have an electrical outlet? Is there a refrigerator nearby? If not, you may want to purchase a pump with rechargeable battery back-up and an insulated cooler with ice packs (blue ice). Is there a sink available to wash breast pump parts between pumping sessions?
- If not, is there a microwave handy to steam clean the parts? If not, you may want to purchase wipes you can use to clean the parts.
What should you do before you return to work or school?
- Learn how to manually express breast milk, even if you plan to use a breast pump.
- Become familiar with your breast pump. Practice setting up your pump and putting the parts together. Try it out. Adjust the settings so that the speed and suction are as close as possible to how your baby nurses.
- About two or three weeks before returning to work or school, begin pumping once each morning about an hour after you have nursed your baby. (Prolactin levels are highest in the morning.) You may not get any milk during the first couple days, but you are sending a message to your body to begin increasing your milk supply.
- Gradually add two or three more pumping sessions between feedings. Once you start to get milk, store it in the freezer for emergencies. Store expressed or pumped milk in small amounts, two to four ounces.
- Introduce the bottle to your baby two or three weeks before you go back to work or school. It may be easier to have someone else offer the bottle, since your baby links you with breastfeeding. Try to use the newborn-sized nipple for as long as you breastfeed, but you may have to experiment to find one your baby likes.
- Consider buying a “hands-free” nursing bra that allows you to use your hands while you are pumping milk.
- It may be helpful to schedule a practice day. Set your alarm for the time you will be getting up when you’re working or attending class. Take your baby to childcare for at least part of the day. Breastfeed and pump at the times you expect to during work or school. At the end of the day, see if your baby drank as much as you pumped.
- The evening before your first day back, pack the diaper bag and your pump bag. (See packing lists below.) Include an extra blouse or sweater that you can leave at work in case of a milk leak that soaks through breast pads.
What should you do when you return to work or school?
- Be prepared. Your first day back at work or school may be very emotional. Try to start on a Wednesday or Thursday. Easing back into the work or academic world by starting with a shortened week will be less stressful.
- Breastfeed your baby when you wake up, then give him/her a “top-off” when you get to childcare.
- Your baby will need at least two to three bottles while you are away, so you will need to pump at least two to three times during the eight or nine hours you are at work or school. (If you have a longer work day or longer commute, you will need to pump more milk.) This is the milk that will be given to your baby the next day at childcare.
- You may have an easier time having a let-down reflex if you look at a picture of your baby or have a piece of clothing handy that smells like your baby. Pack these in your pump bag.
- Clean pump parts that come into contact with you or your milk. Read the instructions that came with your breast pump. Between pumping sessions you may:
- » rinse with cool water, then wash with warm soapy water and leave out to air dry,
- » wipe with a sanitizing wipe sold by pump manufacturers,
- » rinse parts well and store in the fridge or your cooler, and
- » alternate options above throughout the day. For example, rinse and store in fridge after the morning pump session and wash in warm soapy water after the lunchtime pumping session.
- Some women prefer to purchase several extra sets of pump parts so they do not need to clean parts while at work or school and just put everything in the dishwasher at night.
- Breastfeed again as soon as you and your baby are back together. You can discuss your baby’s day with your childcare provider during this time. Let the mothering hormones that are released during breastfeeding help you relax and bond.
1 Bridges CB, Frank DI, Curtin J. Employer attitudes toward breastfeeding in the workplace. J Hum Lact. 1997;13(3):215-219
- Working without Weaning: A Working Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding (2006) by Kirsten Berggren
- Milk Memos: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business with Babies-and How You Can Too (2007) by Cate Colburn-Smith and Andrea Serrette
Has many helpful tips for managing the transition back to work
Has information on new legislation that relates to breastfeeding
The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of professional medical care. If you have persistent medical problems, or if you have further questions, please consult your doctor or member of your health care team.
Over-the-Counter Medication Use While Breastfeeding December 20, 2012 22:20
Working as a pharmacist, it is not uncommon for me to get several questions throughout the day from breastfeeding women about the use of over-the-counter medications. Most medications can be detected in breast milk in small amounts (about 1% to 2% of maternal intake), but very few are contraindicated while breastfeeding. Adverse reactions from drug passage into breast milk is more likely in nursing infants <2 months old.
In general, the safest thing to do when an over-the-counter medication may be needed is to try nonpharmacologic symptom management first. If all else fails, then medications can definitely be considered to use, it’s just important to know which ones are safest while breastfeeding. As always, nursing mothers should consult a health care professional before starting any medication.
A drug’s characteristics determine how much of it will be transferred into the breast milk. These include the molecular weight of the drug, the proportion of drug that is bound to plasma and milk proteins, the solubility of the drug in lipids and in water, the proportion of the drug that is ionized or nonionized, the pH of the drug, and the half-life of the drug. The lower the molecular weight, the easier the drug passes into the milk. Low protein binding drugs will more readily pass through to breast milk. Lipid soluble drugs rapidly accumulate in the breast milk. Drugs that are weak bases would be more likely to cross the membranes from plasma into breast milk. The longer the half-life of the drug, the greater the accumulation will be in the mother, in the breast milk, and in the infant. Aside from potential adverse effects in the infant, some drugs may decrease milk production.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs, to minimize a nursing infant’s exposure to maternal drug, breastfeeding women take oral medications immediately after nursing or just before the infant’s longest sleep period. As a pharmacist, I recommend single ingredient products at the lowest dose possible. Try to avoid using extra strength, maximum strength, or long-acting formulations. In addition, avoid alcohol-containing formulations when possible or avoid frequent or high doses of alcohol-containing formulations. Breastfeeding women should also be sure to watch for any possible side effects that may occur. As a last resort, breastfeeding may be withheld during the period of drug therapy if the drug is contraindicated.
Many OTC options for analgesics are available. Acetaminophen is routinely used for fever and pain in infants, and levels excreted into breast milk are expected to be less than the dose given to infants. Of the NSAIDs, ibuprofen is considered the drug of choice for breast-feeding women and is used routinely in infants. While ibuprofen is excreted into breast milk, the concentration and subsequent transfer to the infant are very low.Naproxen should be used cautiously in breast-feeding women due to its long half-life. Alternative therapeutic options are recommended; if aspirin is taken, the mother should avoid breast-feeding for one to two hours after the dose.
Allergy, Cold, and Cough Preparations
Antihistamines: All OTC antihistamines are known to be excreted in breast milk, and their sedating effects may also be seen in infants. While it is known that diphenhydramine is excreted into breast milk, the concentration and infant transfer are unknown. Clemastine is a long-acting antihistamine that should be used cautiously due to its association with significant effects on infants, including irritability, refusal to feed, and neck stiffness. All of the sedating antihistamines have the possibility of causing sedation in the infant and/or decreasing milk supply, especially when taken in conjunction with a decongestant, and should be used with caution.
Currently, the only nonsedating OTC antihistamine that is available is loratadine, which is excreted in breast milk. However, concentrations in the infant are low and considered safe. Due to its nonsedating effect, loratadine is the preferred antihistamine.
Decongestants: The two OTC oral decongestants available are pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. Due to new regulations regarding the sale of pseudoephedrine, many cough and cold preparations have reformulated their products to contain phenylephrine. Phenylephrine, an ingredient in pediatric cough and cold preparations, is considered safe. While excretion into breast milk is unknown, it is unlikely to be excreted into breast milk in large quantities due to its poor bioavailability. The effect of phenyl ephrine on milk production and supply is also unknown; therefore, this medication should be used with caution in women with limited milk production. Pseudoephedrine is excreted in breast milk and has been shown to decrease milk production and possibly cause irritability in infants. Nasal decongestants are an alternative to systemic decongestants. Most OTC products contain either oxymetazoline or phenylephrine. Excretion in breast milk of oxymetazoline is unknown. However, due to their local activity and minimal systemic absorption, nasal decongestants may have a low concentration in breast milk and are preferred over systemic oral decongestants.
Cough Medications:Dextromethorphan is a common cough suppressant used in cough and cold preparations. Although dextromethorphan has not been studied in breast-feeding, expected concentrations in breast milk would be low. Guaifenesin is used as an expectorant in many formulations of cough and cold products. Cough preparations may also contain alcohol. While alcohol is considered compatible with breastfeeding by the AAP, lactating mothers should choose alcohol-free or low-content alcohol products.
Gastrointestinal medications include agents used for the treatment of diarrhea, constipation, and flatulence. Loperamide, which is used for the treatment of diarrhea, is generally considered compatible with breast-feeding due to minimal oral absorption. Docusate is a common OTC stool softener. It is minimally absorbed orally, and minimal transfer to breast milk would be expected. As a precaution, mothers who take docusate should watch for loose stools in the infant. Other OTC medications for the treatment of constipation are the stimulant laxatives bisacodyl and senna and the bulk-forming laxative psyllium. Bisacodyl has not been studied in breast-feeding; however, due to its minimal systemic absorption, it would not be expected to cause adverse effects in the breast-fed infant and is considered compatible. Senna, a strong laxative, is compatible with breast-feeding. Although older reports indicated an increased incidence of loose stools in infants who were exposed to senna, newer reports have not shown this adverse effect with current senna products. Psyllium is not absorbed systemically and, therefore, does not enter breast milk. It is considered compatible with breast-feeding. Simethicone, used for the treatment of intestinal gas, is commonly used in infants. The drug is not absorbed systemically and thus would not pass into breast milk. Simethicone is considered compatible with breast-feeding.
Below are some great online resources regarding medications and breast milk and from where the information above is referenced.
Motherisk. http://www.motherisk.org/index.jsp. Offers consumers answers to questions about morning sickness and the risk or safety of medications, disease, chemical exposure, and more. Provides teratogen information for healthcare professionals and updates on Motherisk’s continuing reproductive research.
Perinatology.com. http://www.perinatology.com/. Provides teratogen information for healthcare professionals, links to clinical guidelines, and more.
Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS). http://www.otispregnancy.org/. Provides medical consultation on prenatal exposures for consumers and healthcare professionals.
OBfocus. http://www.obfocus.com/. Provides information for healthcare professionals and consumers on pregnancy and lactation related issues, including drug exposure. Provides a list of resources on high-risk pregnancy.
LactMed. http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/. Drug and Lactation Database by U.S. Library of Medicine. Provides information on drugs and other chemicals that breastfeeding mothers may be exposed to.
The Top Thirteen Health Benefits of Breastfeeding Your Baby December 07, 2012 22:44
Breastfeeding is not an option for all mothers, but there is now an impressive body of evidence suggesting that those women who can breastfeed will reap substantial health benefits. Some of these apply to the development of the baby, while others influence the health of the mother. Read on to discover thirteen fascinating and profoundly important reasons why breastfeeding is a smart choice.
1) It reduces your risk of developing certain cancers:
Cancer research has shown that mothers who do not breastfeed or who only breastfeed for a short period of time (i.e. less than three months) are a shocking 11% more likely to suffer from breast cancer at some stage in their lives. Further studies have also connected breastfeeding to a reduced risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancers.
2) It is linked to higher intelligence:
Recent studies have revealed that children who were breastfed as babies are, on average, more likely to score higher on IQ tests and more likely to get better grades in school.
3) It can help you become slimmer:
There are a couple of reasons why breastfeeding can help you to get in shape. Firstly, it burns around 500 extra calories each day, and this will help you to lose weight. Secondly, when you lactate this causes your uterus to shrink more rapidly, and the quicker your uterus returns to its normal size then the easier it is to cultivate a slimmer figure.
4) It makes your baby less likely to suffer from digestive difficulties:
Breastfeeding your baby reduces its risk of developing a range of intestinal problems, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and diarrhea. It is not entirely clear why this correlation exists, but a large body of research has established that there is a significant connection.
5) It reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis:
As a result of an overwhelming number of studies, it is now almost universally agreed that women who do not breastfeed their babies are around four times more likely to develop osteoporosis (i.e. brittle bones) in older age.
6) It boosts your baby’s immune system:
Breast milk helps to promote a strong and healthy immune system in your body, and this means that your baby is less likely to contract serious illnesses. This is because breast milk is a source of lymphocytes and macrophages, which produce antibodies that protect us from bacteria and viruses.
7) It reduces your baby’s chance of developing breast cancer:
A study conducted in the mid-nineties proved that female children who were not breastfed were as much as 25% more likely to develop some form of breast cancer during their adult lives.
8) It makes your child less likely to develop arthritis at a young age:
According to studies aimed at discovering how we might prevent arthritis, children who are breastfed appear to be around 60% less likely to develop arthritis during their childhood or teenage years.
9) It reduces your baby’s risk of suffering from diabetes:
Research conducted in Finland has found that drinking dairy products (instead of breast milk) at a young age raises the risk of ending up with type one diabetes. This is because cow’s milk antibodies are linked to a greater chance of developing diabetes.
10) It can help with insomnia:
The chemicals in breast milk can help to encourage your baby to fall asleep. This, in turn, can also help you to feel more relaxed and able to sleep.
11) It makes your child less likely to develop asthma:
Studies on respiratory health show that children who were breastfed as babies are much less likely to suffer from the wheezing and chest discomfort that are experienced by sufferers of asthma.
12) It promotes your child’s dental health:
When babies suckle in order to breastfeed, this tones and strengthens their facial muscles. Orthodontic studies show that this toning and strengthening improves jaw alignment, which in turns makes those children less likely to need braces or other orthodontic work in later life.
13) It helps to create and maintain a body between you and your baby:
When you breastfeed your baby, your endocrine system responds by releasing a hormone called oxytocin. This is the same hormone that is often called the ‘cuddle hormone’ because of its ability to increase emotional intimacy between romantic partners. In the context of breastfeeding, it improves milk ejection and promotes happy and relaxed feelings during the feeding process. In addition, babies it comforting to be cuddled, and being cradled in your arms during breastfeeding helps to soothe them.
As is obvious from these impressive health benefits, breastfeeding can boost the health of both you and your baby. However, note that you should never breastfeed if you have a serious bacterial or viral infection, and you should always speak to your doctor to make sure whether you are taking any medications that could harm your baby if they are transferred via breast milk.
Living Mindfully Through Breastfeeding November 21, 2012 00:00
As many concepts related to parenting, green living is an ideal that often gets tossed out the window once the baby arrives. Staying sane on only an hour of sleep while taking care of a demanding infant and remembering basics like getting your teeth brushed on a daily basis can be hard enough, much less living mindfully and in an environmentally friendly manner. However, incorporating green living into your daily life as a parent can start with something as simple as how you feed your infant.
One of the most ways a new mother can live mindfully and be green at the same time is to breastfeed her baby. While of course this is not possible for all mothers, nursing can be an incredible way to foster emotional bonding between a mother and child and may offer important health benefits such as increased immunity. Breast milk is also free, which can substantially lower overall costs compared to purchasing baby bottles and formula. According to the website KidSource.com, the yearly cost of baby formula can range between $1275.00 and over $3000.00, compared to the potential cost of a yearly breastpump rental, which costs less than $500.00 a year.
The creation of baby bottles, nipples, and formula containers has an environmental cost as well as a financial one, since natural and energy resources must be used to manufacture and distribute these items. Such objects are also less likely to be recycled and may take up to 400 years to disintegrate once left in a landfill. Moreover, there may be an environmental risk to using bottles and nipples, as plastic baby bottles and some nipples may contain biphenyl-A (BPA), which a chemical commonly used in the production of plastic items. BPA is also found in the metal lining of several types of infant formula cans, including Enfamil and Similac. The U.S. Environmental Working Group (EWG) has shown that exposure to BPA, even in low doses, may result in early puberty, cancer, behavior and brain disorders. According to MomsandPOPsProject.org, infants who are bottle-fed are the highest population group to face high levels of BPA exposure, which can be reduced through the simple act of breastfeeding.
Many parents think that using filtered water to mix their baby formula is a healthier choice than tap water and in many instances that may be true. However, water is also used to manufacture the bottles, formula and nipples used to feed these babies and this water may not be filtered. This increases the potential risk for contamination of cadmium, aluminum, lead, pesticide and other hazardous chemicals. Dangers with the water used to mix baby formula often continue at home as well. The hot water that parents frequently use to make baby formula in order to warm the formula before feeding it to their baby can also dissolve potential contaminants into the water faster than cold water, which only increases the overall risk of the infant’s exposure to potential chemical contamination.
For all the environmental, health and financial reasons to breastfeed your baby, there is no denying that there is an environmental risk in breastmilk as well. Pollutants that the mother is exposed to or ingests through what she eats or drinks can pass into the breastmilk, including heavy metals, pesticides and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs can include a variety of chemicals, including DDT and other bioactive substances that can pose a health risk to humans. While this may make parents despair that nothing is safe for babies, not even human milk, the U.S. National Institutes of Health concludes that there is little evidence that the chemical agents in breastmilk are strongly linked to morbidity in infants and any potential health risk is lower than any potential health benefit to breastfeeding.
Not all mothers can breastfeed and if this is true for you, consult with your pediatrician about the best type of baby formula to use. If you do use baby formula, look for baby bottles, nipples and formula marked “BPA Free” and remember to clean and recycle the items when you are done with them. Moms who can nurse should consider doing so, due in no small part to the emotional, physical and environmental benefits. But don’t forget that nursing comes with a responsibility as well and carries a risk that may be reduced by eating organic foods whenever possible, choosing meat and dairy items marked “Hormone Free” and consuming a healthy diet. Doing so is a good choice for your mind and body, not to mention your baby and the environment.