Archive for September, 2011

Podcast: Here comes The Milk Truck!

Starting this month, residents of Pittsburgh may see a converted ice cream truck with a five foot breast and police-light flashing nipple on the road.  It’s The Milk Truck!

Tanya Lieberman, IBCLC got to chat with Jill Miller, the creator of The Milk Truck about how it works, the inspiration for the project, whether nursing stations can imply that nursing in public is inappropriate, and how art and humor can be used to challenge perceptions and start conversations.

You can listen to the interview using the podcast player below, listen with Quicktime, or listen through Motherlove’s free iTunes store!



Questions About Fenugreek for Low Milk Supply?

You probably know fenugreek as the most popular herb to increase milk supply, but fenugreek sure is one multi-tasking herb.

It’s long been used as a cooking spice in East Indian and Asian cuisine and can be used externally to soothe wounds and sores. It can be gargled to relieve a sore throat and its seeds aid digestion.  It’s even approved as an appetite stimulant in Germany.

But it’s fenugreek’s status in the galactagogue world that puts it on center stage among breastfeeding herbs. (A galactogogue is a substance which increases milk supply.) Fenugreek is by far the most popular galactagogue, and can be taken as a liquid extract, dried powder capsule, or in tea form.

Note: Motherlove products all contain liquid extracts, or tinctures. Our vegetarian liquid capsules are popular with mothers who dislike the taste of the extract, but are the same liquid extract — just packaged differently for ease of use. Motherlove does not manufacture any dried herb capsules or teas.

Fenugreek’s smell and taste are so close to maple syrup that it’s used as flavoring in artificial maple syrup.  A few years ago, when New Yorkers reported periodic smells of maple syrup (they became known as “maple syrup events“) authorities identified the cause as a fenugreek processing plant!  Many mothers report that they smell like maple syrup when they use fenugreek to increase milk supply.

Fenugreek is an annual that grows 12-18″ high, and is a member of the legume family. It produces “pea pods” that contain yellow-brown seeds.

Fenugreek is an ingredient in a number of Motherlove products, including:  Fenugreek, More Milk Plus, More Milk Plus Alcohol Free, More Milk Plus Capsules, More Milk Special Blend, More Milk Special Blend Alcohol Free, More Milk Special Blend Capsules.  Please see each product page for suggested use.

Why Fenugreek:

Why is fenugreek such a popular galactagogue? Simply, because it’s safe and has such a long history of use without serious side effects. (See cautions and possible side effects below.) Its ability to increase milk supply is well established and it’s the number one recommended herb by lactation consultants. 

Before Using Fenugreek:

Consult a certified lactation consultant. There are many reasons why milk supply can suffer, and you may not have low supply at all. It’s common to worry about how much milk your baby is receiving and often everything is just fine. Also, low supply can be a complex issue and taking a supplement might mask the real problem, or not be effective without also altering your pumping schedule, correcting your baby’s latch or diagnosing another medical condition, such as PCOS. If you’re building a freezer stash so you can return to work, a lactation consultant can suggest the timing of introducing the bottle and getting a pumping routine established. We always recommend seeing a lactation consultant as the first step before taking any of our supplements.

Note: Always let your lactation consultant or healthcare professional know any medications that you may be taking, as any food has the potential to cause a reaction or interfere with medications.


Fenugreek has been used for generations all over the world without any documented deaths. Fenugreek is widely used as an ingredient in spice blends and artificial maple syrup. It is a basic ingredient of curry powder and five spice mixtures and is also popular in salads. Fenugreek is on the FDA’s GRAS list (Generally Recognized as Safe).

Note: More Milk Plus is the number one recommended supplement to increase breast milk. More Milk Plus is carried in over 100 hospitals on the birthing floors where women get advice and support from lactation consultants on staff.

Possible Side Effects & Cautions:

Dosage:  Mothers who are fearful about producing enough milk have been known to take large quantities of fenugreek, which increases the risk of side effects. Dried herbal supplements can vary in their potency (which is normal — not all plants grown in the same garden are identical) and different brands recommend different dosages.

Note: Motherlove’s recommended dosage of our products is specific to breastfeeding. Fenugreek purchased as a general supplement may have other suggested dosages. Always follow the label’s dosage recommendations and talk to your lactation consultant about breastfeeding-specific dosages.

Contrary to much of what is recommended on the internet, taking enough fenugreek to smell like maple syrup is not always necessary. You might find an effective dose without the odor. Use caution and consult your healthcare professional before taking large doses of any herbs or supplements.

Also consider the dose that is effective for you. If you are taking a large dose and not seeing results in two to three days, ask your lactation consultant for advice. You might have low milk supply caused by a condition that does not respond to fenugreek. Common sense and professional advice can not only limit potential side effects but also save you valuable time and frustration, and get your breastfeeding relationship on track much quicker.

Note: Motherlove supplements are herbal extracts (not dried herbs) and are carefully blended for maximum effectiveness. It is possible to take a more moderate dose of these products because of their potency as compared to dried herbs and diluted dried herbs (teas). Always follow label instructions and do not take more than the recommended dose.

GI Upset:  Fenugreek is known to cause diarrhea and/or intestinal upset in a small number of people. The odds of this reaction can be minimized by taking the most moderate dose that works for you.  Dried herbs can also cause stomach upset because of the amount of fiber they are adding to your diet. If you are taking fenugreek along with other supplements, be aware of this potential side effect.

Dried fenugreek can inhibit the absorption of other medications because of the mucilage it produces. Fenugreek, when added to water, produces a thick-slimy substance that can coat the inside of your stomach and interfere with absorption. Liquid extract/tincture does not have this side effect, and it is absorbed much more quickly than powdered herbs.

It’s helpful to take a blend of herbs instead of fenugreek alone. A blended formula addresses several reasons milk supply may be low, and generally, it has less possibility for side effects than a single herb. Motherlove products are formulated with checks and balances — for example, fenugreek can cause diarrhea, but blessed thistle is anti-diarrheal.

Note: Motherlove has more formulas to increase breast milk than any other company. These include a fenugreek and alcohol-free galactagogue for use during pregnancy, More Milk Two, and fenugreek-free More Milk.

Allergies: Fenugreek is a legume as are beans, peas, chickpeas, peanuts and soy.  If you have a severe peanut allergy you should avoid fenugreek and other foods that contain it, such as those listed above. Studies have shown that people allergic to peanuts are not necessarily allergic to fenugreek, and there are people that have shown an allergy to fenugreek, but not peanuts.

Hypoglycemia: Clinical trials have shown that fenugreek lowers blood sugar, and it is used to control blood sugar by diabetics. If you are diabetic, talk to your healthcare professional before using fenugreek.

Pregnancy/Smooth Muscle Stimulation: One theory about why fenugreek works to stimulate breast milk production is its action on smooth muscles. (Breast tissue is a smooth muscle.) The uterus is also a smooth muscle making fenugreek unsafe during pregnancy. Do not take fenugreek while pregnant or while you can become pregnant.

Other Contraindications: Fenugreek contains coumarin, and animal studies have shown fenugreek to increase the effects of warfarin. Do not use fenugreek if you have been prescribed blood thinners. Fenugreek may lower the thyroid hormone T3 (also based on animal studies only), so fenugreek is not recommended for women with hypothyroid. Fenugreek has been said in some internet forums to have an effect on blood pressure/medications but we are unable to find any credible studies or links to fenugreek’s effect on either high or low blood pressure. However, as cautioned above, you should consult your lactation consultant and other healthcare professionals before taking any supplements or medications.

About Motherlove herbs:

Before being accepted for use in any Motherlove supplement, each ingredient undergoes quality testing. Then, the finished product is tested for bacteria, yeast, mold, E. coli, Staphylococcus, salmonella and heavy metals by a third-party lab.

Manufacturing and packaging of Motherlove supplements is done in a GMP certified and FDA registered facility, and all herbs used in the products are USDA certified organic.

Motherlove products do not contain dairy, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat or gluten. Our capsules contain non-GMO soy lecithin.

The German Commission E
The Botanical Safety Handbook
Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions
Medication & Mother’s Milk
The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety
The Nursing Mother’s Herbal
Herbal Medicines, A Guide for Health-Care Professionals
The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk
The Nursing Mother’s Companion
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding


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Want baby bliss? Learn these infant massage strokes.

We love infant massage for its many benefits to babies – and to you!

Massaging your baby facilitates bonding, relaxation, and promotes sleep, digestion, and boosts babies’ immune systems.  It can alleviate gas and even help with teething pain.  And it’s been shown to relax parents and stimulate the production of oxytocin – “the love hormone.”

Our Birth and Baby Oil is gentle enough to be used as an infant massage oil (as well as for perineal massage during labor and birth).  An all natural mild scented oil with certified organic lavender and no essential oils, it’s also excellent for dry skin and cradle cap.  Our Birth & Baby Oil has a zero rating (zero toxins) on EWG’s Skin Deep database.

One infant massage DVD we love is Bonding With Your Brilliant and Beautiful Baby Through Infant Massage, from BabyBabyOhBabyWatch a preview of this gorgeous and inspirational guide to infant massage.

To get started right away, check out the videos below from Infant Massage USA which introduce some basic strokes.


Getting started with infant massage:

Leg massage:

Tummy massage:

Arm massage:

Returning to Work? Yes, You CAN Continue to Exclusively Breastfeed!

We’re pleased to share a guest post from Wendy Armbruster Bell is the Founder & Creative Director of Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear, creators of the PTPA Award-Winning PumpEase hands-free pumping bras.

As the end of maternity leave fast approaches, nursing mothers have a number of choices to maintain their breastfeeding relationships with their babies. This holds true no matter how long your maternity leave will be or if you have chosen to return to work early of your own accord.

Childcare Can Be Your First Resource

Start looking for childcare while you are still pregnant, as it is usually the biggest obstacle. Look for a private provider who is close to your office and try to schedule going to your baby to nurse the first week or two as a transition for both you and the baby. Some providers might even be willing to bring your baby to you at work for feedings. The sustained contact will be good for both of you emotionally and will facilitate your letdown as well as help to maintain your milk supply as you both adjust to the new routine.

Returning to Work

Remember to discuss your breastfeeding and/or pumping schedule with your employer prior to your return to work so that there are no surprises for either of you. It is also a good idea to return to work on a Wednesday or Thursday so you have a short first week. Finally, plan a dry run of your morning routine, including the drive to work, before tackling the real McCoy. This will do wonders for your stress level on that first day of leaving baby.

Following is a typical schedule that can be adapted to suit (based on a baby who is 3-6 months old):

          6:00 am:      Wake up, get ready for work and eat a healthy breakfast.

          7:00 am:      Wake and nurse your baby.*

        10:00 am:      Pumping break (or nurse baby).

12:00-12:30 pm:   Eat a nutritious lunch and pump.

          2:30 pm:      Pumping break (or nurse baby).

          5:00 pm:      Leave work for the day.

          5:30 pm:      Pick up baby and nurse.

Try this schedule (or one that is similar based on your work schedule) a couple of days before returning to work and make sure your supply doesn’t suffer. Make adjustments if necessary.

Tips for Pumping at Work

If you will be pumping at work even once per day, you may want to invest in a hands-free pumping bra so that you can still answer emails, eat lunch or take phone calls while pumping.

Make sure you have a comfortable chair to sit in, a footrest to raise your knees to parallel while sitting (so that you don’t hunch over) and if you have problems with letdown, a picture of your baby or an article of clothing that smells like him/her.

Remember that you should wait 4 weeks to introduce a bottle to your newborn to reduce the chance of nipple confusion.

If you don’t have an office with a lock on the door, then you will also need to find a private room that you can use for nursing and/or pumping – and try to avoid the restroom!

Why Lactation Rooms Rock

Approach your employer to set-up a lactation room. You can pitch him or her on the benefits of having a breastfeeding mother on staff. Never mind the extensive long-term health benefits for BOTH mom and baby, in the short-term, research shows that:

  • breastfed babies are sick less often and when they do get sick, then aren’t as sick
  • breastfed babies are less likely to have ear infections, colic, diarrhea and other childhood illnesses
  • babies who are breastfed are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized during the first year
  • nursing mothers have a lower incidence of postpartum hemorrhage
  • nursing mothers often stay amenorrheic for several months. The amount of iron a mother’s body uses in milk production is much less than the amount she would lose from menstrual bleeding. The net effect is a decreased risk of iron-deficiency anemia in the nursing mother as compared with her formula-feeding counterpart. The longer the mother nurses and keeps her periods at bay, the stronger this effect.1

Therefore, because you and your baby will be sick less frequently, your employer will benefit from reduced sick days and in turn, increased productivity from you!

After Solids Schedule

After your baby starts solids (usually around six months of age), he/she will be taking less breast milk. You may choose to pump during the day and breastfeed first thing in the morning and at bedtime as well as on the weekend. Your baby could take one bottle of expressed breast milk in the afternoon (2:30-3:00 pm) and you will still successfully maintain your supply. These types of arrangements along with an open mind, flexibility and support will help you reach your personal breastfeeding goals.

You Need Support!

Speaking of support, a lack thereof is one of the top reasons for the extreme decline in breastfeeding rates after moms leave the hospital. The best thing you can do is to keep the following in mind:

  • breastfeeding is not “instinctual”, both mom and baby need to learn how to do it
  • if you are having difficulties, ASK FOR HELP from your Public Health Nurse (Canadians only), Doctor, Midwife, Doula, Lactation Consultant, La Leche League Leader, friend or family member
  • there appears to be a learning curve for the first 6-7 weeks postpartum – if you can persevere until then, you are usually home-free
  • resist the temptation to give your baby formula – as little as one feed per day can cause your supply to diminish – keep a small stash of breast milk in the freezer instead

Can You Hire a Nanny?

Many people are under the impression that a live-in nanny is out of reach financially; however, this choice could be quite affordable compared to group daycare, especially if you have more than one child.

If you compare the cost of group daycare (up to $1500 per month, per child) to a nanny (about $1100 per month after deducting room and board) while considering that you also have the option of arranging a “nanny share” with a friend, family member or co-worker, that the price of the nanny remains the same no matter how many children you have, as well as the fact that they often help around the house including dinner preparations and light cleaning, then a live-in nanny isn’t as out of reach as you may think. You simply need to crunch some numbers and be resourceful.

You Can Do It!

As with many seemingly insurmountable challenges in life, one day you will look back on your choice to maintain breastfeeding after your return to work and say, “It was a bit of a challenge initially, but soon it was just another routine. I did it and it was absolutely worth it!”

Wendy Armbruster Bell is the Founder & Creative Director of Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear, creators of the PTPA Award-Winning PumpEase hands-free pumping bras.  When she is not helping thousands of breastfeeding moms around the world pump hands-free and in style, she and her husband Mike are busy raising their two young daughters in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. She has been featured in Baby Talk, Pregnancy & Newborn and TIME magazines as well as on Dragons’ Den, Cool Mom Picks, Parents TV, Breakfast Television and Celebrity Baby Scoop. Wendy was named a Top Mompreneur for 2009 by The Mompreneur Magazine and was a top finalist in Small Business BC’s Successful You Awards in the Business Growth category in 2010. For more information, please visit Wendy can be contacted at or toll-free at 1.866.963.SNUG (7684).


1Institute of Medicine 1991

Our First 10k!

Our Facebook page has its first 10,000 fans, and to celebrate, we want to give back. But picking just one organization is impossible. So, we want you, our fans, to pick. Leave us a comment and tell us where you’d like us to make a donation, and we’ll pick one person at random and make a donation in your name to the charity you specify. The donation will be made from the Nurturing Life Foundation — which we fund with a percentage of every item sold.

Keep this in mind when making your nominations:

The Nurturing Life Foundation has a twofold mission: To promote breastfeeding and support mothers-in-need and to create opportunities for children nationwide. The Nurturing Life foundation is wholly funded by Motherlove Herbal Company.

We look forward to learning about your favorite non-profits and charities that support mothers and families!


This Labor Day month, watch a free webcast of Birth, the play

Since 2006, communities across the country have been producing Karen Brody’s play, Birth, often (and appropriately) during Labor Day week.

Birth is a play based on over 100 interviews conducted by Karen Brody about their birth experiences.  Eight birth stories are told in the play, with the intent of showing how low-risk, educated mothers are giving birth in the U.S. today.  Birth is also intended to raise awareness and provide a springboard for advocacy to make maternity care mother-friendly.  This advocacy effort is called BOLD (Birth on Labor Day).

Birth is now celebrating its fifth year, and to celebrate, BOLD is broadcasting a free webcast of a reading of Birth during Labor Day week.  The first broadcast will be live on September 5th at 7 pm ET, and this performance will be rebroadcast several times a day on September 17th and 24th.  More information about the webcast is here.

Birth has been called “magnificent, funny, and wonderfully wise” by Dr. Christiane Northrup.  We hope that you enjoy it!

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