Thursday, September 26, 2013

Breast Milk Allergy: Breastfeeding Myth Busted!

     The breastmilk allergy myth was further perpetuated on the TODAY show's #bornTODAY series this morning causing me to have to speak out against irresponsible and incomplete journalism. 
The Myth: Some babies are allergic to their mother's milk.
The Facts: Human milk is the most natural physiological substance that baby can ingest which is why breast milk can be used as a "clear liquid" if a baby is ill with a stomach virus and it is also why breast milk does not sting when placed in the eye as a remedy for conjunctivitis.  
     If a baby shows sensitivities related to feeding, it is usually a foreign protein that has been consumed by the mother and entered into mother's milk, and not the breast milk. The remedy for this is to remove the offending food from mother's diet for 3-4 weeks.  One example is dairy.  Dairy is difficult to digest and can take 10 days to two weeks to leave the mother's system and another 10 days to two weeks to leave the nursing baby's system making the process take 3-4 weeks.  This lapse in time is no reason to wean because as any formula feeding mother can attest, it may take much longer than that to find a formula your baby can tolerate.

Here are some references to help bust the breastmilk allergy myth!

Hudson, I. et al. A low allergen diet is a significant intervention in infantile colic: results of a community-based study. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1995; 96:886-92.

Mohrbacher, N., Stock, J. BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK. Schaumburg, Illinois: LLLI, 1997; 97-99.

Salmon, M. Breast Milk: Nature's Perfect Formula. Demarest, New Jersey: Techkits, 1994; 32-3.

Newman, Jack: Pitman, Teresa, The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, 2003; 150

Tanya Roberts
Lactation Connection


Monday, September 9, 2013

Why Fenugreek Isn't Working for Breastfeeding

     The truth is fenugreek is a great tool to boost milk supply in most moms.  However, in the two decades that I have been helping nursing moms, I get this comment a lot, "Fenugreek didn't work for me."  How can it be that an herb with such great success stories doesn't work for a large number of mothers.  In most cases, the answer is in the quality, dosage or delivery method.

     Many moms buy Fenugreek at a local health food or grocery store in brands that are not stored or bottled in the best way to keep them at full potency.  Also, shelf life factors into this so buying from a store that doesn't cater to the largest market for Fenugreek, nursing mothers, will not have the best turn-around.  It is always a good practice to check the expiration date on any herb before using.  Fenugreek capsules work best when taken in a quality brand like Nature's Herbs or Nature's Way Fenugreek and in the appropriate dosage or combination.   The correct dosage is essential.  If you are under 150 lbs, start with three capsules, three times daily.  Yes, that is nine capsules per day.  Possible side effects of fenugreek for mom are loose stools and you may smell like maple, but who cares if you are taking this short term for a boost and the result is more milk!  If you stools are not loose or you are over 150 lbs, you can take up to 5 capsules three times daily.  This dosage is for Nature's Herbs as it is 620 mg per capsule.  Some brands only contain 500 mg.  You should see more milk in 48-72 hours.  Always finish the bottle which is about a 10 day supply.  Don't save it for later as once you open the bottle, it begins to loose freshness.  If you are still not getting a result, combine Fenugreek with Blessed Thistle.  Take 3 Fenugreek + 2 Blessed Thistle three times daily.  You can also use Alfalfa instead of Blessed Thistle.

     What about Fenugreek drinks?  Fenugreek Tea such as Mother's Milk Tea, Earth Mama Angel Baby Milkmaid Tea tea bags should be steeped for about 15 minutes to get the full amount of herb available.  It is more difficult to tell how much you taking so I only recommend using tea bags as a supplement to the capsules or for long-term intermittent use and not for a quick three day boost.
    The best way to get the correct herbal dosage is either a capsule with a single herb such as fenugeek or a single serve kcup lactation tea that serves the same amount of herbs every time.  Anna Naturals Nursing Mama Tea comes in single serve cup for  kcup compatible brewers and is the best-tasting of all the herbal lactation teas we have found! This lactation tea cup works in Keurig and other k cup style brewers.  Drink 3 cups daily for best results or use as a supplement in taking with Fenugreek or Blessed Thistle capsules if drinking sporadically.  (Paragraph added 3/2/16)

     Remember, milk supply is usually a supply and demand issue.  Baby is not nursing frequently enough or emptying the breast well enough or you are not pumping for a full 15 minutes or every 3 hours while at work.  Another reason for low supply could be missing out on growth spurts.  If you miss a growth spurt,  add 3 extra nursing or 10-15 minute double pumping sessions with a quality double breast pump in each day for five days in a row to make up for the missed stimulation.  This simulates a growth spurt and studies show this extra hour of stimulation per day

     In addition to everything else you are doing, make sure you are drinking to thirst and make your snacks count.  It never hurts to eat a lactation cookie or boobie bar instead of donuts for breakfast or candy for a snack.


Best wishes for a healthy milk supply!