When you look at the label of our popular galactagogue More Milk Plus you might think that we simply combine several herbs which increase milk supply.
But More Milk Plus is much more thoughtfully designed than that. We’ll explain.
In the U.S., fenugreek is the most popular galactagogue herb and is the herb most recommended by lactation consultants to increase milk supply. Fenugreek has been used as a food for centuries, and you may have even unknowingly eaten it as maple syrup flavoring. It’s also a galactagogue, and is a key herb in our More Milk Plus.
While side effects are uncommon, some mothers find that when they take high doses of fenugreek in powdered capsule form they experience gas and diarrhea in themselves or their babies.
More Milk Plus has been designed with this in mind, in two important ways:
First, because liquid extracts are a higher quality preparation (encapsulating a dried herb leads to more oxidation), you can take less of them, reducing the chances that you’ll experience side effects.
Second, we have included two herbs - Blessed Thistle and fennel – which nicely balance the effects of fenugreek. Blessed thistle and fennel are both digestive herbs which reduce gas and diarrhea. Fennel in particular is a classic digestive herb, used an an anti-colic and anti-heartburn preparation. You may have noticed it offered as you leave Indian restaurants as a post-meal digestive aid.
We believe that the quality of our preparations and the thoughtful balancing of herbs in More Milk Plus have contributed to its success as the best selling breastfeeding supplement in the U.S. (SPINS data report).
We asked fans on our Facebook page for their best tips on exclusive pumping, and here is what you told us!*
Pumps and other supplies
“Get a hands free bra or at least cut holes in a bra so you have free hands.”
“Get extra parts.”
“Consider getting bigger flanges.”
“Store a nursing cover in your pump bag in case you can’t pump in a discreet place. I pumped while riding in the car quite a few times.”
“Even if you have a double electric pump, you should periodically rent a hospital pump to help maintain supply.”
“Change membranes once a month or if they break to increase suction.”
Managing frequent pumping
“Put your parts in the fridge when done pumping so you don’t have to wash them until the end of the day.”
“Set up a calm environment, an iPad with Netflix (I went through several TV series that I had never gotten around to watching).”
“Find a place to put your child while pumping that they like.”
“Follow the ‘rules,’ especially in the beginning.”
“Manually express after you finish pumping. It really helps with supply.” (See Stanford University’s ‘Hands on Pumping‘ video’)
“Holding baby if you can while feeding helps let down. I pump while nursing but I can not pump without hearing him cry or seeing him. I’d suggest an MP3 of baby’s hunger cry to listen to if she is unable to hold baby or exclusively pump.”
“Pump every time your baby eats the first 12 weeks.”
“The old 15-20 minutes of pumping [advice] is not going to allow you to keep your supply (unless you have over supply). Most EP’ers pump for 30-45 minutes.”
“Clean out each breast [fully empty] to avoid clogs.”
“Don’t get stuck on the idea that you should let down at the industry standard of 2 minutes (as electric pumps are set). Better for your pumping output and breast care to know if you need more time at the let-down setting before proceeding to expression setting.”
“Lube the shields up with olive oil to help with friction.”
“Manual expression for when you don’t have your pump available. It can also help you to increase your supply and empty your breasts more completely.”
Learn “How to increase supply when baby goes through a growth spurt. I get asked for help/advice on that frequently.”
“I still pump for my son who’s 14 months and it frees me up at work to play on my phone, catch on work or reading. It makes the time pass easier if I am free to find something to do.”
“Try different things. There is no one way to exclusively pump.”
Support and attitude
“Support from loved ones was a necessity.”
“Get help and support or you can feel like the only one.”
“So many of my pumping friends quit early because they felt it was such a strange experience. They didn’t like feeling like ‘milk cows.’ So I worked on spending my time pumping (when my daughter wasn’t around at least) meditating on what a great thing I was doing for myself and my daughter. Focus less on the awkward and more on the awesome!”
“Don’t give up!!! It’s tough to exclusively pump..at least for me I felt like all I did was feed my son, pump, change diapers and repeat! The worst was growth spurts. I had to pump constantly to get my supply up every time! Still doing it 10 weeks in and wouldn’t change a thing!”
“There’s a great group on FB for exclusive expressing with every tip they could ever want or need and supportive women in the same boat.”
“Babycenter.com has a great exclusive pumpers board.”
*Some of these tips we received from more than one reader.
Image credit: Wikimedia CommonsPin It
How much of my Motherlove product should I take?
Under 175 lbs: 1 ml – 4 times per day
Over 175 lbs: 2 mls – 3 times per day
Under 175 lbs: 1 capsule 4 times per day
Over 175 lbs: 2 capsules 3 times per day
How should I take this product?
These products can be taken with a small amount (1-2 oz.) of liquid. For maximum effectiveness, avoid drinking liquids 15 minutes before or after each dosage. Drinking more liquids than specified with each use may dilute the herbs in your system.
How long will my Motherlove product last at the suggested amounts?
This depends on dose and body weight. Here is the approximate time each product size will last:
60 caps 10 days – 2 weeks
120 caps 20 days – 4 weeks
2 oz. 10 days – 2 weeks
4 oz. 20 days – 4 weeks
8 oz. 40 days – 8 weeks
How long should I use Motherlove liquid extracts or vegetarian capsules?
Each mother’s needs are different. Some women are able to use these products for a short time to increase their breast milk supply. Other women, once their supply increases to the desired level, are able to decrease the amount or number of doses per day to maintain the desired supply of breast milk. Many women are able to stop taking the product altogether as their bodies are able to maintain an adequate milk supply. Some women may need to use Motherlove’s lactation products the entire time they are nursing to maintain their milk supply. We encourage women to use the amount that best meets their baby’s needs.
When should I expect to see an increase in milk supply?
Most women see an increase in breast milk supply with the More Milk Plus products within 1-2 days. It does take longer – usually 2-3 weeks - to see an effect when taking Goat’s Rue to support mammary tissue development.
What should I do if it is not working?
Be sure you are taking the correct amount for your body weight according to the suggested use on the label, as well as our recommendations above on water consumption. There are certain herbs (including sage, parsley, and peppermint) and medications (such as over-the-counter decongestants) that can lower milk supply. Try to avoid these while breastfeeding. Some lactation consultants also warn that some forms of hormonal birth control may lower breast milk supply. It’s also possible that you would benefit more from a different Motherlove product. As there can be many causes of low milk supply, we recommend working with a lactation consultant to help you with your particular breastfeeding situation.
*Not sure which Motherlove product is right for you? Check out our guide to choosing the right Motherlove product for your needs.Pin It
Power pumping (also called cluster pumping) is pumping in a series of ten minute sessions – ten minutes pumping, ten minutes off – over the course of an hour, one session each day. It’s typically used when mothers experience a temporary dip in supply, not as a means of establishing a new milk supply.
The theory is that power pumping simulates a baby’s behavior during a growth spurt, when they feed more frequently and often in a cluster-like manner. Alone or in combination with other measures to increase supply (more frequent and effective feeding at the breast, use of galactagogues, skin-to-skin, etc.) it may increase milk supply over time. Mothers may find that initially they collect little milk during these sessions, but over time their milk supply will catch up with the increased demand. Moms report that it can take as long as one week to see an increase in supply.
Moms who have low milk supplies are often advised to pump after each feeding for the same purpose, but many find the routine of feed-pump-feed-pump around the clock to be unworkable. One nice thing about power pumping is that it can be done at any time – including when the baby is sleeping. So some moms power pump during naps, and some (whose babies are going to bed earlier than they do) pump in the evening after the baby is asleep. Some mothers also power pump several times a day over weekends (described by some as Power Pumping Boot Camp), when care of the baby is shared with a partner.
Pumping is not the most entertaining way to spend an hour, so some moms have gotten creative. This mom described how she synchronized her pumping with a TV show, pumping during commercials and resting during the show. She would also rent a movie and pump during one scene and rest during the next. And here’s a radio strategy: pump during one song, rest during the next!
While there is no research specifically on this practice, some moms report significant increases in milk supply.Pin It
It’s a traditional practice in Japan and some other Asian countries, and it’s used in a number of different forms here. But what is it, and why do it? And is it necessary?
In Japan breast massage is practiced to increase breastmilk quantity and “quality.” There, it is performed by specially trained midwives as a paid service. According to La Leche League, “most Japanese people still believe that breast massage is essential for the mother to produce enough milk.”
In the U.S. breast massage is far less known, and takes multiple forms, all performed by the mother. Some mothers know of a “massage-stroke-shake” method of assisting the milk ejection reflex developed by lactation consultant Chele Marmet. In this method, mothers massage their breasts with a pressure and motion in a manner similar to those used in a breast exam. “Alternate massage,” another technique sometimes recommended here, involves massaging and compressing the breast when the baby pauses between sucking bursts. “Hands on pumping” is another method combining the use of a breast pump and breast massage to increase pumping output. And of course massage is also often used to help resolve plugged or engorged areas of the breast.
But what does breast massage do? A few studies have tried to answer this question, and have found that breast massage:
The finding that massage has an effect on hormones makes sense, since we know that touch of many kinds increases oxytocin. And we might take our cue on this from babies, who actually massage their mothers’ breasts on their own!
But is breast massage necessary? In the normal course of breastfeeding, breast massage is likely not necessary for mothers to produce plenty of milk. For mothers who are having difficulty with specific issues such as milk supply, pumping, milk ejection, plugged ducts, or engorgement, it’s one of a number of tools available which they might consider. Of course, massage should be used concurrently with the basics of establishing milk supply: frequent and effective feeding, and good attachment to the breast.Pin It
Note: If you’re an African American nursing mom living anywhere in the country and interested in donating breastmilk for this research, please contact Beth Punska at (413) 545-0813, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is also at the study website.
If you’re not nursing, please consider joining the Love/Avon Army of Women, and select “breast milk study” when asked how you heard about it!
You’ve heard it many times before: breastfeeding and breastmilk gives your baby important nutritional and immunological support.
But could breastmilk hold the keys to preventing and treating breast cancer? And could African American moms’ breastmilk be especially important?
It’s clear that African American women have a different pattern of breast cancer than other women. The U.S. Office on Women’s Health reports, “Research has shown that African-American women are more likely to get a form of breast cancer that spreads more quickly.”
In spite of this difference, black women are also underrepresented in some important research which could get to the bottom of breast cancer risk, prevention, and treatment.
What is this research? It’s being done by Dr. Kathleen Arcaro at the University of Massachusetts, and it uses breastmilk to assess breast cancer risk. We’ll explain.
Breast cells are key in breast cancer research, but they’re really hard to get. You can get a limited number through biopsy or extracting nipple aspirate (ouch!), but neither of these methods sound like much fun to most women. They also have limitations: breast biopsies only yield cells in a very small area of a breast, and nipple aspirate produces very few cells for analysis.
Enter breastmilk. It’s been clear for some time that ductal breast cells naturally slough off into breastmilk. The cells in breastmilk of course come from all ductal areas of the breast, and they’re plentiful – an average of 30,000 per milliliter.
Until very recently the presence of these cells in milk was only an interesting footnote in the literature. But with the advent of DNA analysis, scientists can now extract DNA from these cells and look for patterns of “methylation” – methyl groups that attach to key parts of our DNA which are thought to regulate its functioning in important ways.
For example, if a methyl group attaches to your tumor suppressor genes, it can essentially turn them off – kind of like you would a light switch. This leaves us more vulnerable to the growth of tumors. In a cancer-prone area of our bodies like the breast, their function is critical.
Knowing this, Dr. Arcaro began looking for breastmilk donations about ten years ago. Spreading the word through lactation consultants and others (and occasionally stopping a mother on the street), she found many mothers enthusiastic to donate their milk in the name of breast cancer research. Many viewed their milk donation as a way of fighting the disease which had taken the health and sometimes lives of friends and family members.
Dr. Arcaro’s research has already yielded some important results. She has found that certain patterns of methylation are correlated with a higher risk of breast cancer. These findings may pave the way for a personalized breast cancer risk profile for each woman. It also may lead to new treatments to reverse methylation and prevent breast cancer. Amazingly, some of the first generation chemotherapy drugs are in fact “anti-methylating” agents – drugs which can actually remove methyl groups from your DNA, allowing your DNA to function properly in the fight against cancer.
But Dr. Arcaro has a problem: the vast majority of her samples have come from white women. Her goal is to uncover findings that apply to all women. To ensure her findings applicable to women of all races – and because the differences in breast cancer between races needs to be investigated in its own right – she has been working to recruit African American women to donate breastmilk samples.
African American moms can play an important part by donating your own milk for this effort. It’s easy, quick, and makes a big difference! Dr. Arcaro’s lab sends moms a kit, a questionnaire and consent form, and moms send it back with their milk. They’ll send participants $25 in thanks for their time and effort.
For African American who are not nursing, Dr. Arcaro still needs help! She’s urging participation in the Love/Avon Army of Women – a project aiming to recruit one million women to sign up to participate in breast cancer research (if they choose to do so). Having African American women well represented in the breast cancer research is key, for her research and many others.’ So Dr. Arcaro hopes women will sign up for the Army of Women (and be sure to select “breast milk study” in the drop down menu to help track the impact).
Dr. Arcaro’s lab is one of the few in the world which is consistently investigating the secrets breastmilk holds for our understanding of breast cancer. You can learn more about Dr. Arcaro’s work, and see if you or mothers you know might qualify for one of her studies, at the website of the UMass Breastmilk Lab, and follow the lab on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
The frequent news about cows and other mammals producing human milk is enough to make you wonder if it might be possible for scientists to replace you and your milk.
But let us explain how science will never be able to create a cow, goat, sheep, or other mammal that can produce human milk or confer the health effects of breastfeeding.
A few pieces don’t make a puzzle. Reports of other mammals producing “human milk” usually focus on a few components of breastmilk – things like lysosyme, lactoferrin, and alpha-lactalbumin. These are all important parts of breastmilk, but human milk contains hundreds of components, and some constituents haven’t even been identified yet.
We don’t even know what the completed puzzle looks like. Of the components of human milk that have been identified, we’re still figuring out exactly why they’re there. It’s only recently, for example, that we’ve figured out why some complex sugars called oligosaccharides exist in human milk, since we’ve known for some time that they’re indigestible. (We now know that they are a form of prebiotic, fueling important probiotics in the baby’s gut). We’re just beginning to understand the function of a number of cancer-fighting components, and we’ve only recently discovered that breastmilk contains stem cells. So, these cows are producing a milk that is a far cry from human milk, in part because we’re just beginning to understand how human milk works.
Your milk is a personalized product. Even if science could create a match for many of the major ingredients in human milk, it still wouldn’t hold a candle to the milk you make without even thinking about it. The reason: the milk you make for your baby contains antibodies against pathogens you have been exposed to. If your friend, who has a cold we’ll call Virus Q, sneezes on you, your lungs will take in that virus, and your lymphatic system will send a message to your breasts to make milk with antibodies that protect your baby against Virus Q, exactly. It works the same way with bacteria you take in by mouth. To make a cow, sheep, or goat which could do this is just not possible, because they’re not exposed to the same stuff as you and your baby.
Your milk is alive. Human milk direct from the source is a “live” fluid, containing millions of live cells carrying out their respective duties in your baby’s system. Live white cells, called leukocytes engulf pathogens and T-memory cells can live for years and provide long term protection. Any manufactured, packaged, and shipped product is not alive, and can’t provide this kind of benefit. Of course, if you pump and freeze your milk, the cells in your milk aren’t alive. But a remarkable amount of protection survives pumping, freezing, defrosting, and even pasteurizing.
Your milk changes all the time, depending upon your baby’s needs. Human milk constantly changes to meet the needs of individual babies. The milk you made on day 1 of your baby’s life is different than what you made on day 10 or will make on day 100. The milk you make in the morning is different than the milk you make at night (fattier, and filled with sleep inducing neucleotides), and the milk your baby gets at the beginning of a feeding (full of brain-building sugars) is different than the milk he gets at the end (full of “good fats”). Anyone who has pumped milk will notice that at times there is a thick layer of cream at the top and at times there is a thin one – another adjustment for hour-by-hour needs of your baby. A thin layer may mean that you haven’t fed for a while and your body knows that the first priority is to hydrate your baby – hence a higher proportion of water.
Even more ways breastmilk is tailored to you and your baby. And the list goes on: Some components of your milk are specific to your (the mother’s) blood type. What you eat determines the flavor of your milk, and helps introduce the flavors of your family’s diet to your baby. Preterm milk is differently composed than full term milk. Your milk even reflects your genetic material.
There’s power in the act of breastfeeding itself. In our fascination with the impressive composition of breastmilk, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that some of its power derives from the act of breastfeeding itself. The act of breastfeeding properly forms a child’s palate, requires an interaction that supports a child’s social and emotional development, elicits the release of hormones which help mothers fend off postpartum depression. And the act of breastfeeding is probably why breastfed babies are less likely to be obese and overweight as children. Research has found that, when comparing breastfed and bottle fed babies, bottle fed babies are at higher risk even when the bottles contained breastmilk. Why? Probably because it’s not the milk but the method of feeding: breastfed babies control their intake, bottle fed babies’ intake is controlled by the person feeding them.
And it’s about your health, too. Making milk offers mothers protection against a number of diseases and health conditions. Among them are breast cancer, ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and postpartum depression. And research is accumulating showing that breastfeeding is important to long term weight, blood pressure, heart health, diabetes, and the whole constellation of problems called metabolic syndrome. It might even give you better breast aesthetics than if you have a baby and don’t breastfeed!
At Motherlove, we treat every week as an opportunity to honor and celebrate breastfeeding. Here are some of our favorite reasons why:
Breastfeeding is the natural way for your body to continue nourishing your baby, just as you did during your pregnancy.
Breastfeeding promotes bonding between you and your baby, releasing the “love hormone,” oxytocin.
Babies are born to breastfeed, and will even crawl up their moms’ chests right after birth!
Human milk is made for the specific needs of human babies.
It’s what breasts are for! Your breasts are the only organs which don’t fully develop until pregnancy and production of milk for a baby.
Breastfeeding promotes morality and compassion in children.
World wide, increased breastfeeding rates could save more than a million lives annually. In the U.S., it could save nearly 1,000 lives and $13 billion per year in health care and other costs.
Breastfeeding is naturally eco-friendly. It’s a renewable resource!
Of course, there are many more reasons to love breastfeeding. What’s your favorite?
Whether you pump for work, for an occasional bottle, or you pump exclusively, there are a few things you should know if you’re planning to travel with your milk.
Flying: Bringing breast milk on board
Back in 2006, when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) adopted restrictive policies regarding liquids brought on board planes, mothers who were traveling without children reported being told to dump out their pumped milk before boarding.
Fortunately, things have improved significantly since then. The TSA policy is now as follows:
We recommend that you print out and bring a copy of the TSA regulations with you in case an agent has questions.
Flying: Checking containers of breast milk
Breast milk can also be packed in your luggage and checked. If you do pack it in a suitcase be sure to enclose it in multiple layers (several zip lock bags inside an air tight plastic container, for example) to guard against spillage.
Some mothers who are transporting a lot of milk opt to check a well-sealed cooler of milk. Bear in mind that frozen milk will likely thaw, partially or completely, in transport. To keep the milk at refrigerator temperature or lower, we’d recommend packing your milk in ice or dry ice.
Traveling by car
If you’re traveling by car and expect to need to pump, you’ll want to either plan for periodic pumping stops or invest in a cigarette lighter adapter in order to pump while driving (check to make sure one is available for your brand of pump). Obviously, it’s safest if you pump while someone else is driving, or stop to pump. We’d caution against pumping while driving if you find it distracting enough to make driving unsafe. We want you to get there safely!
Milk you pump on the road will stay good in an insulated cooler pack with ice packs for up to 24 hours. See below for milk storage guidelines once you get the milk to your destination.
If you’re planning to be on the road with already pumped milk, your options are much like those for flying with breast milk. Fresh milk can be transported at refrigerator temperature in a cooler bag or cooler with ice, and then stored in the refrigerator at your destination (see below). If your milk is frozen, you can pack it in a cooler with ice or dry ice. It will likely partially or fully thaw. See below for milk storage guidelines once you get the milk to your destination.
How long is it good after I get it home?*
Since fresh milk can be kept in the refrigerator for five days, fresh (not frozen) milk that is transported at a temperature at least as cold as a refrigerator should be good for up to five days (in total).
And since frozen and thawed milk can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours after thawing, frozen milk which thaws in transport but remains cool (refrigerator temperature or lower) should be good in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours after thawing. It’s not recommended that milk be re-frozen.
*Milk storage guidelines from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s protocol, “Human Milk Storage for Home Use for Healthy Full-Term Infants.”
We’re very happy to share a podcast interview with Motherlove Herbal Company founder and owner Kathryn Higgins on galactagogues – herbs to increase milk supply!
Kathryn talked with Tanya about several commonly used herbs to increase milk supply, herbs that are particularly helpful for mothers who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or had little breast growth in pregnancy, and herbs that are safe to take while pregnant. She explained which forms of herbs (liquid extracts, capsules, teas) are most effective, and discussed some common herbs and foods which lower milk supply. She even shared the Greek myth that gave us the word galaxy and galactagogues (hint: when you look up at the night sky, think milk!).
A nationally recognized herbalist, author, and teacher, with 35 years of personal and professional experience, Kathryn Higgins is the founder and visionary behind Motherlove Herbal Company. While pregnant with her first child Kathryn began to gather herbs from her home in the Rocky Mountains to make teas, oils, baths and liquid herbal extracts that would support her own child birth experience. In 1990, while pregnant with her third child, Kathryn founded Motherlove. She remains a lecturer and teacher on the use of herbs, and is the author of the Pocket Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants.
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