Traditional Chinese Medicine for Lactation & NY Times Article

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Lactation 

An abundant flow of breast milk is dependent on good nutrition, adequate fluids and blood some constitutional issues and rest. A new mother may be faced with a myriad of difficulties surrounding nursing: how to get a good latch, sore nipples, positional problems or physical problems that may impede sucking. Chinese medicine is an excellent modality for treating the mother holistically to address insufficient lactation or mastitis in conjunction with a lactation consultant and/or your midwife or OB.

One may wonder how a postpartum woman may be full of adequate nutrition and rest? This is a big issue especially in our modern culture where women are expected to return to work quickly and get back into pre-baby shape asap. Also, your birthing experience may have had a large impact on how you are feeling and how the milk is flowing. I love doing postpartum visits to really help nourish mom’s Qi and Blood~ this by the way is the foundation of an abundant milk supply.

Insufficient Lactation:

Insufficient Lactation can be due to fatigue, infection, diarrhea and/or stress. In Chinese medicine we evaluate the patient and gather clusters of symptoms that help create a diagnosis. Some potential symptoms that could accompany insufficient lactation could be a sallow complexion, poor appetite, no feeling of distention in the breasts, dry skin, poor appetite, fatigue and pale tongue.

Other symptoms could be insufficient lactation with distention, hardness, pain in the breasts, anxiety, irritability or mood swings, and a red tongue. (This person may be more prone to mastitis).

Treatment includes dietary therapy (no amount of tea or herbs can replace a hearty meal) acupuncture and herbal teas.

Mastitis is a nasty breast infection where the breasts get red, hot and possibly hard to the touch. You may have an elevated temperature and chills either from a blocked milk duct or an infection entering through the nipple.  In Chinese medicine this is considered toxic heat affecting the LIV, ST, GB meridians. The patient must be evaluated by her midwife or OB but can be treated with Chinese Medicine if antibiotics are not necessary and even if they are prescribed.

Some tips for treating Mastitis:
Use sesame oil to comb in a circle clockwise towards nipple. Also you can microwave a diaper and wrap it around the breast, run breasts under hot water, hot compresses, cabbage leaves. *Please consult your care provider.

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