• Annie Vedeler, L.Ac, Fertility Acupuncturist

"Milk Does A Body Good"...Or So The Saying Goes...


This saying used to be from a commercial in the 80's promoting dairy milk and its nutrients. In this post, I am referring to a different kind of milk. I'm talking about the milk that nurtures a human baby from the mother's breast. Breast milk contains the perfect combination of protein, minerals, fats, carbohydrates and nutrients for an infant to thrive; that is if the infant is able to properly nurse and/or if the mom is able to provide the necessary amount of milk. Sometimes though, probably more often than not, mothers can be very intent on providing this natural source of abundance, but she may not be able to provide enough milk production. This is known as insufficient lactation. Alternatively, she may not be able to breast feed due to a blockage of lactation and or infection known as mastitis.


It must be daunting for new mothers who read about how important it is for their babies to obtain colostrum, for instance, for their baby's developing immune system. Just knowing the importance of feeding her infant enough nutrients to grow is not enough! Is there a place where can she turn to find physical help to get her breast milk flowing?


Tao of Women Clinic, whose treatments are based off of Traditional Chinese medicine, offers solutions to the following problems. The first problem is a lack of nutrients to "make" milk. The basis of breast milk is derived from the quality and abundance of the mother's blood. More common than not, there can be substantial loss of blood during childbirth. If this happens, usually there just hasn't been enough time for mother to recuperate and replenish this source before it is time to breast feed her baby. The second issue is obstructed milk ducts. Sometimes, instead of a lack of milk production, milk ducts can become obstructed and even though milk is present, it cannot flow out of the ducts and there can even be infection complicating this scenario.


Luckily, the problem of insufficient lactation can be easily treated with the principles of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine). Acupuncturists know how to nourish a women's source of breast milk through recommending which nutrient dense foods can help the production of milk, she can begin by suggesting herbs and foods that support lactation and by giving her acupuncture to stimulate the production and flow of milk.


For obstructed milk ducts, Chinese medicine has ways of unblocking this stagnation through the proper application of acupuncture in addition to recommending herbs that will stimulate the flow of breast milk. Remember, as always, there are many herbs that should not be given to women that are breast-feeding, and a trained herbalist will know which herbs are beneficial for these conditions and which to stay away from.


Finally, stagnant breast milk and lack of flow can lead to a condition known as mastitis or infection of the breast tissue. This infection can be very painful and it is best handled by a lactation consultant or general western medicine practitioner who can prescribe antibiotics that won't be harmful to the baby and can quickly help the mother heal so that she can continue breast feeding. Acupuncture, in addition, can be a soothing friend during this time to help the mother de-stress and to increase the release of endorphins which will help her with pain and discomfort.


Feeding your baby what nature intended is best as the other saying goes, "Breast is Best". Just know that if problems are encountered with breast feeding, there are effective solutions that have a 1000 year track record in treatment success. Always remember to be gentle with yourself and remember, there is no such thing as a perfect mom!







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