Sunday, January 31, 2016

Oatmeal and other Foods/Herbs to Increase Milk Supply


Low and/or decreased milk supply is one of the biggest concerns of breastfeeding mothers. At the most recent SDCBC general meeting, lactation consultant Rose deVigne-Jackiewicz (RN, MPH, IBCLC) talked about techniques and foods that help increase milk supply.

Signs and symptoms of low milk supply

There are three factors that can affect milk supply: Maternal factors such as hormones, insufficient glandular tissue, bariatric surgery, breast surgery, and emotional issues; infant factors such as gestational age, illness, prematurity, genetically challenged, and/or cardiac problems; feeding issues such as poor latch, insufficient breastfeeding and restricted breastfeeding, and mother-baby separation. 

The mother probably has low milk supply if the baby shows one or more signs below:

  • Less than three wet diapers per 24 hours by the time baby is three days old, or baby has less than 5 heavy wet diapers per 24 hours after he or she turns five days old. 
  • Concentrated urine. 
  • No change to normal bowel movement and/or stalls by the third to fourth day after birth and scant stools thereafter. 
  • Less than 20 grams weight gain or even further weight loss after day three. 

Techniques that increase milk supply

There are several techniques that help increase milk supply without use of medication or herbs. The easiest and most efficient way is increase number of feedings by waking up baby more often, using comfort nursing instead of a pacifier, and decreasing non-medically prescribed or unnecessary formula use. Skin to skin contact and additional breast compressions during feedings also helps.

When additional help is needed, some foods and herbs may be helpful.

Herbs that help increase milk supply

The usage of herbs to increase milk supply is nothing new; it has thousands of years of history. Although there is no efficient lactogenic study that approves the efficacy of using herbs to increase supply, experience suggest it’s safe and helpful.

Below are some of the herbs that most commonly used to help enhance breast milk production, which mothers can use by adding to food, taking capsules or sipping teas.

Alfalfa: When taken in moderation, it is safe to consume alfalfa for it does not enter the breast milk and is safe for babies.
Blessed thistle: When using tincture, take 1-2 ml per day. When using tea, use 1 heaping teaspoon of freshly chopped herb, steep 20 minutes in five oz of boiling water, and then enjoy.
Fenugreek: Fenugreek is a spice from India that has been used to flavor imitation maple syrup. When using tincture, take 2-4ml per day.
Fennel: Fennel is clinically indicated to be helpful for gastro-intestinal upsets. Use the seeds, not the essential oil.
Goats Rue: Goats Rue is a safe and effective lactagogue, know by many to be the most powerful of all herbal galactagogue.
Moringa: Mooring is from the Philippines and has been referred to as a super food. It can increase prolactin levels in 48 hours.
Shatavari: Shatavari is clinical indicated to be a hormonal stimulation for low milk supply.
Borage, brewers yeast and red clover have also been used to help increase milk supply.

Foods and Drinks that help increase milk supply
Some drinks and foods, such as oatmeal and barley cereals, also help enhance milk production. Granola bars, nuts and seeds including almonds, cashews, sunflower, flax, and hemp seeds have also been popular milk-increasing food among breastfeeding mothers. Beer, which has significant amounts of lactogenic ingredients, has been using to increase milk for more than 3,000 years. When using, moderate is the key.

While there are herbs that increase milk production, there are also herbs that decrease milk production. Nursing moms should avoid sage and peppermint.

This is an original post to San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition. Photo credit to Mu-huan Chiang.

ACTION ALERT! #PaidFamilyLeave Helps Bond with New Baby


I took advantage of California Paid Family Leave(PFL) after my baby was born. During that 6 weeks, I bonded with my baby by breastfeeding him as often and as long as possible; I also built a very good milk supply. By the time I went back to work when my little one turned 6 weeks old, I had one gallon of breast milk stored in my freezer.

The working environment I returned to was, unfortunately, very unfriendly to breastfeeding mothers.

I went through a long, exhausting process of fighting just for a reasonable pumping space and a harassment-free office, which caused me to be stressed out with my milk drying up.

Luckily, I was able to continue exclusively breastfeeding my little one with my stored milk supply. When I was about to use up that storage, I left my job and became a freelancer. I was relieved and my milk supply came back. My little one was exclusively breastfed for six months and continued breastfed to 2.5 years of age.

Experts agree that breastfeeding is baby’s best start. I wouldn’t be able to give my little one that best start without PFL. That is how important PFL is to breastfeeding mothers and babies. I am lucky. I live in California, the first state in the country to pass PFL in 2002. Now Assembly Bill (AB) 908 (Gomez) would provide greater economic security and equity in California's PFL and State Disability Insurance (SDI) programs by raising the current wage replacement rates for both programs, extending PFL from six to eight weeks, and eliminating the current waiting period when applying for PFL benefits, which I believe that all the working mothers in this state deserve.

If you agree, I invite you to join me TODAY and submit a letter of support as a PDF to Assm. Gomez's office care of Annabel Snider:
annabel.snider@asm.ca.gov

Please click here to download a template letter of support. Don't forget to put the sample support letter on your organization's letterhead, with current date, your signature, and add AB 908 Support in the subject line!

This is an original post for San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition by To-wen Tseng. Photo courtesy Mu-huan Chiang.

Friday, January 22, 2016

New Year's Resolution: Embracing My Postpartum Body

Getting fit is a classic New Year’s resolution. Last year, and the year before last, my New Year's resolution was both "getting my pre-pregnancy body back." But between sleep deprivation and breastfeeding struggles my commitments to get rid of the post-baby belly always came in the dead at some point in the middle of the year.

Last year right before Mother's Day, I wrote a desperate post for Breastfeeding Association of Taiwan about my unsuccessful attempt on getting my body back.

...Today is my little one's two-year-old birthday.
I have no stretch mark, but after giving birth to this 8 pound piglet, the postpartum fat stays on my belly forever.
My 2-year-old is still being breastfed. Sometimes he would pinch my belly and say, "Mommy fat."
I can happily say that he is the best gift that God has ever given me, definitely worth my once small waist.
But I have no courage to put on my pre-baby bikini and show my post-baby belly.
Confession: I want to get my pre-pregnancy body back...
That was how much I wanted to tone my post-pregnancy belly again. But this year, to save myself from some emotional highs and lows, I promised myself to learn to love my postpartum body.

So it's my new New Year's Resolution.

What changed my mind was that article I wrote couple of months ago for Taiwan's Commonwealth Parenting Magazine, which cited a new U.K. study that finds a mother’s history of anorexia, bulimia or both was predictive of high levels of body dissatisfaction and eating disorder among both girls and boys.

The research kind of shocked me. One thing interesting about a mother writing for a parenting magazine is that she's writing to the readers and herself at the same time. I thought a lot when writing that piece. The unfortunate truth is, I've been unhappy with my own body since the age of eight. At the age of 14, I started a very strict diet. The diet did me no good but lead to an unhealthy eating habit later in life. I don't want my boy to experience the same dissatisfaction with his own body.

So I am going to set an example and learn to love my (postpartum) body as it is. Well, I am not perfect, but hey, I am healthy and have every right to feel good about it.

This is an original post dedicate to Body Positive January 2016 hosted by Happy Mommy, Happy Baby by To-wen Tseng. Photo credit to Mu-huan Chiang. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Haiti post earthquake: how motherhood changed my experience

In 2010 I found myself in Haiti post-earthquake on assignment as a TV correspondent. While there, I witnessed a mother visit a health clinic with her infant. With an interpreter’s help, she told the doctor that her child was sick. After checking the baby, the doctor explained that the child was not sick, but malnourished, meaning that the baby wasn’t getting enough food.

New Hospital in Drouillard, Haiti. Photo courtesy Yann Libessart/MSF.

The mom sadly stated that she had a low milk supply, while desperately asking for advice. The doctor recommended adding beans to her diet for increasing her milk supply.

The mother started to cry, “Beans? I cannot even afford corns.”

At the time, I was working for DaAi TV, a non-profit Chinese TV Network operated by Tzu Chi Foundation, the largest charitable organization in the Chinese-speaking world. They sent me to Haiti to cover the relief work after the 2010 earthquake. The Tzu Chi Medical Association, also part of the foundation, works closely with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Port-Au-Prince. There, hundreds of seriously wounded victims kept coming to us, and people who still had four limbs—like the mother and her baby—could hardly attract the attention of our delegation of journalists among the masses of wounded people after the devastating earthquake.

MSF Hospital of Drouillard, Haiti in 2012. Photo courtesy Yann Libessart/MSF.
The earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010 left an estimated 230,000 dead, 310,000 wounded, and 1.5 million homeless (these numbers are currently disputed by a US government report, fyi). During the 17 months since the earthquake, MSF has opened five hospitals and fought a massive cholera epidemic throughout the country, an ongoing fight as MSF continues to treat patients for cholera as of May 2011.
In the past, I jumped from disaster situation to disaster situation to report. I did my job, and moved on to the next story. However, it wasn’t until after I had become a mother myself two years ago, that I began to reconnect to the story of the Haitian mother who sadly couldn’t afford beans. 
I’ve been trying hard to recall the child’s appearance: He must have been tiny, probably with thin arms and legs. He must have been starving and dehydrated. His lip was probably dry and his cry was probably weak. The formula from Doctors Without Borders might have helped them cope with the emergency, but couldn’t support them forever. How are they doing now? Could the child even have survived for three years?

My heart aches every time I think of them. I regret not giving the mother and her baby more attention when I was in Haiti. I am ashamed.

From my experience, I’ve realized that becoming a mother can really change the way a woman looks at the world.

I met many moms in Haiti. Moms with malnourished babies. Moms who walked miles with sick children under a scorching sun to clinic stations for help. Moms who lost their children in the earthquake and took responsibility to raise their grandchildren. And teenagers who had been sexually assaulted in tent cities and forced to become mothers at a very young age.

In fact, 61 percent of births worldwide are assisted by qualified medical staff. In Haiti that number is only 5.6 percent, and a woman’s chances of dying from obstructed labor, eclampsia the effects of malaria or other conditions increases without access to medical care.

I learned from Doctors Without Borders that in crisis situations like this, mothers, especially those who are pregnant, can face extraordinary challenges. In recent conflict settings where they have taken action, their teams conducted more surgeries for life-threatening pregnancy complications than for war wounds.

The saying goes that there are three kinds of people who run toward disasters: cops, firefighters, and reporters.

I was a disaster and criminal reporter for 10 years, and I could handle reporting on the toughest of situations. I ran to them. But the birth of my child forever changed my career path in a new direction. I am now a parenting and education columnist who also writes children’s books in scattered hours.

I probably will never get to go back to Haiti (or the other places on the globe where I have covered disasters), but as a mother, I feel that I have become even closer to the mothers I met along my journey. And I have become a loyal supporter of organizations like Doctors Without Borders. It’s a way I can help mothers like those I met in disaster areas from home and without physically running to the next natural disaster.

Will you join me today?

This post is provided through a special collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™ and World Moms Blog to empower women everywhere to have safe and healthy pregnancies and babies. Photo Credit to MSF.

To-wen Tseng is a World Moms Blog contributor, wife, mother, previous TV reporter turned freelance journalist who also writes children’s books in wee hours. To-wen regularly contributes to World Moms Blog, Moms Rising, and Taiwan’s Commonwealth Parenting Magazine. She is also the author of “Xiao-Hong the Anchor Girl,” “Summer Days with A-Fu” and two other books, all in Mandarin Chinese.”