August pays tribute to the importance of breastfeeding both nationally & worldwide. Breastfeeding has so many benefits for mother and child but can definitely have its challenges. Three out of four mothers will struggle with milk supply and stop after trying for three months. Women coming in for postpartum Acupuncture care often don’t know that acupuncture can help with milk supply issues. In honor of breastfeeding month this seems like the perfect time to share some of the ways that Chinese medicine can offer lactation support.
Acupuncture is well known to help calm the central nervous system promoting the parasympathetic nervous systems (rest & digest). Nerve impulses stimulated by the suckling baby signal prolactin & oxytocin to be released bringing the letdown of milk flow. Probably one of the best-known supports for milk supply is fenugreek herb. There are many mother’s milk teas and certainly all will have fenugreek. Chinese medicine looks at breast milk as a fluid created from the mother’s own blood supply. It’s not at all uncommon for mothers to be blood deficient after the birthing process. As always, we treat the underlying root to help the symptom in Chinese Medicine. Rather than sending you off with a box of mother’s milk tea we are more likely to send you with blood and yin building herbs. Fortifying blood through iron rich food and supplementation are also good ideas. With acupuncture we can also help treat clogged ducts or mastitis.
I personally find a lot of benefit in treating the back postpartum. There are tonification points for all of the major organ systems that play an important role in producing more blood in turn supporting milk supply. I’m regularly asked to explain the action of tonification. To tonify is to feed and nourish the body in order to rejuvenate what has been depleted. Acupuncture and herbs are means for restoring the body to a state that can continue to be a well spring of nourishment for baby and mothers.