Optimizing Lactation

Just when you thought you were over the "hard part" of delivering your bundle of joy, you are facing difficulty with lactation. I have heard from many patients how painful this can be both physically and emotionally. Chinese medicine sees breast milk as a product of the transformation of Qi and Blood. We differentiate whether the issue is with low levels of milk or trouble with the flow. A metaphor for breast feeding is that of water being pumped from a reservoir. There may be plenty of water (breast milk) in the reservoir, but if the pump (Qi) is insufficient, the water will not flow. Conversely, we may have an issue of depletion of the reservoir. Acupuncture can be A-MAZING help with increasing breast milk and flow. One patient of mine would produce almost double the amount of breast milk after our acupuncture sessions. I also like to share tips for what you can do at home to help encourage the production and flow naturally. Number one is breast feeding frequently- Breastfeeding or pumping every 60-90 minutes signals the body to produce more milk. In a sense it "primes the pump". Hydration- you should be drinking at least 64 ounces of liquids per day. Hydration and a nutrient dense diet will increase the "reservoir".  Resting adequately is important for your body to produce milk and build Qi. Fenugreek is one of the most commonly used galactagogues.  It works very quickly in most cases. Take 3 capsules, 3 times a day for the first 10 days; drop to 2 capsules, 3 times a day for the next 10 days; drop to 1 capsule, 3 times a day for another 10 days. Mothers typically see an increase in supply within 72 hours. The most common side effects reported are profuse sweating and excretions that smell like maple syrup.  Blessed Thistle is also helpful- 3 caps 3 times per day. You can try Mothers Milk Tea by Traditional Medicinal if you haven't already- it has fenugreek and many moms see a difference with several cups per day.  Fennel isn't a galactagogue, it works differently by signaling the body to let down milk. Rescue Remedy also triggers the let down reflex. 

If you need to supplement but don't trust the packaged baby formula, you can find two recipes for homemade, organic, nutritious baby formula from the Weston Price website here. They are nutritionally as close to breast milk as you can get. Similar to breast milk, it includes infant probiotoc and prebiotic elements beneficial to baby's immune system.. 

Finally it needs to be said- you are pretty much a goddess and you will help your baby  thrive whether or not your breast milk comes in quite the way you would like.  Be extra kind to yourself if you are struggling with breastfeeding! You might consider working with a compassionate lactation consultant like San Francisco's Caroline Kerherve.