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Lactation and Breastfeeding

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Typically women lactate and breast feed their babies from birth for up to 2 years. For the first 3-6 months all of the nutrients a baby needs can be obtained through a mother's breast milk. Of particular importance is the first week to two weeks of breast feeding, as this is when the colostrum is produced which contains a lot of immune information that gets passed on from the mother to the baby. Breast feeding is very good for babies.

If a mother is uncertain about breast feeding, what is the minimum length of time you recommend she consider nursing for?

It is ideal for a mother to nurse for at least the first few weeks, however, there are some disease conditions where the mother has to be careful about breast feeding. For instance, if the mother has HIV the research is conflicting as to whether or not it is best for a mother to breast feed. It is best to check with your obstetrician or medical doctor before breast feeding if you have a medical condition, and are on serious medications. For a typical, healthy women, breast feeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby. It decreases their risk of opportunistic infections, allergies, eczema and asthma.

Jennifer breast fed both of her boys. Her oldest for 1 year, and her youngest for 16 months. Nursing is very convenient, but it can also be stressful, particularly when you are the ONLY food source for the baby. Jennifer shared that there were times when she was stressed out and sleep deprived, and her milk supply would go down. She would sometimes get into a bit of a panic, which of course just made matters worse.

What are some natural ways moms can stimulate their milk production?
Fenugreek is a herb that is used to stimulate breast milk production. It can be taken in capsules, a tea, or a tincture. This is an option often recommended by midwives and naturopaths. Jennifer used Fenugreek when she was nursing.
Women who need help stimulating the lactation process in the beginning can consider drinking beer. The hops in beer helps stimulate milk production.

trong>What should women avoid when breast feeding?
Dr. JJ has found that mothers of babies with colic may be eating foods with allergens that are being passed on to the baby. It could be a food like wheat, dairy, nuts or even tomatoes that could be causing digestive problems for the baby. If you remove these foods from the mothers diet, you may notice that the baby has less colic.

What should women include in their diet when breast feeding?
Breast feeding women should include fish oil in their diet, as studies have shown that the essential fatty acids lead to higher IQs and improved cognitive function in breast fed babies.
Eating fish is good too, but you need to be careful which fish you eat. The US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) warns that women should avoid fish that are high in mercury. You should avoid predator fish, like shark, sword fish and king fish. Visit the Environmental Defense website where they outline what fish are "safe" and which ones to avoid. The site includes a handy pocket guide that you can print out and put in your wallet to refer to when you are shopping.

Other resources for Moms:
Ask your naturopath about any questions you have about breast feeding and your children's health. You can submit a question to Dr. JJ through www.askdrjj.com. Mother Risk is another resource for pregnant women and mothers, particularly if you have any concerns about a product or medication you are taking www.motherisk.org.

In closing....
You can find a naturopathic doctor in your community through the Find a Practitioner link at www.vitaminjunkeys.com.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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