Chicago Area Breastfeeding Coalition’s “When is Enough Enough?” Conference Notes

The Chicago Area Breastfeeding Coalition (an awesome group of ladies, I must say) hosted their annual breastfeeding conference at Illinois Masonic this past Saturday, October 1. The theme of the conference was “When is Enough Enough? Milk Supply, Mom’s Nutrition, Social Networking.” The audience was an amalgam of moms, lactation consultants, peer counselors, nurses, doctors, and doulas. Here are some highlights from the conference that I thought every breastfeeding mom should know about. Enjoy and be sure to register for the conference next year!

Tieraona Low Dog, MD (University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine)
Author: Complementary and Integrative Approaches to Women’s Health: A Clinical Guide

Dr. Low Dog focused on the importance of postpartum nutrition to maximize health and milk supply:

–       Don’t try to lose weight in the first 6-8 weeks postpartum

–       Losing 1-2 pounds per week after that is OK

–       Protein and fiber are really important for the postpartum mother

–       Fruit and vegetables should be half of mom’s diet (potatoes don’t count!)

–       Vitamins for mom: Vit. D – mom needs 600 IU/day, low B12 may increase the chances of postpartum depression, moms and kids need DHA daily (for brain and eye development)

–       Limit caffeine (Did you know the half-life of caffeine is 8 hours? I didn’t!)

–       Drink water!!!

–       Eat organic foods as much as possible (higher pesticide levels in food may lead to higher incidence of ADHD and learning disabilities in children!). Find out which foods have the highest and lowest levels of pesticides:

–       If you eat fish, be aware of how much mercury is in the fish you eat. Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium pocket guide for seafood safety:

–       Reduce exposure to chemicals – avoid items containing BPA, don’t microwave with plastic containers!!!

–       If you had a c-section or IV antibiotics during labor – make sure you’re taking a good probiotic after birth, it will reduce allergies, eczema, asthma in baby

This is the part of the presentation I like to call “Herbs are Magic!” Dr. Low Dog has studied medicinal herbs extensively, and she talked about common herbal lactogogues (also called galactogogues, these are substances that are thought to increase milk supply). Note: Very few studies have been done on the efficacy of lactogogues, but many of these herbs have been used for generations by breastfeeding mothers.

–       Fenugreek (common lactogogue, used to flavor fake maple syrup! Huh!)

–       Fennel seed (along with chamomile and lemon balm, it’s good for colic and colds!)

–       Milk Thistle (grind up seeds and add to smoothies!)

–       Shatavari (very popular in Indian culture – use in combo with cardamom to enhance milk supply)

–       Alfalfa and nettles (extremely nutritious!)

–       Blessed thistle (all thistles are edible and used as lactogogues all over the world)

–       Thyme tea (not for milk production but really good for yeast infections!)

Diana West, BA, IBCLC
Coauthor: The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th edition
and Author: Defining Your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery.

One of my favorite books to loan to my clients is The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk. It is SUCH a comprehensive guide to increasing your milk supply. The quote she opened the presentation with was: “You don’t need to have a full milk supply in order to successfully breastfeed.” So true! So many moms who have low milk supplies for whatever reason should feel proud that they are breastfeeding at all! Keep on truckin’ mamas!

Getting breastfeeding off to the best start:

–       Baby shouldn’t get bathed after birth! Put the baby wet on mom’s chest so the baby can follow the scent of the amniotic fluid for the next two feedings (after that, mom can bathe). A baby’s strongest sense is their olfactory sense, so scent is really important in breastfeeding!

–       Practice baby-led latching (ala Suzanne Colson’s Biological Nurturing This practice releases more of mom’s and baby’s natural instincts.

–       Milk removal is the best way to increase milk supply – the more you get out, the more you make! If breastfeeding is getting off to a slow start, hand express some colostrum (much better than pumping in the first few days) and feed it to baby. Studies have shown that doing hand expression plus nursing can increase your milk supply by 45%!!!! Here’s a great video demonstrating hand expression:

–       Some food-based galactogogues: lots of fiber (even fiber drinks!), maintain carbohydrates, green papaya

Again, great conference! In order to change the breastfeeding culture in Chicago, we need more opportunities like this to educate and be educated! Thank you, CABC!!!

Katrina Pavlik (M.Ed., CPD(CAPPA), CLS) is the founder of Breastfeed, Chicago! and knows that she still has a lot to learn about breastfeeding. Hooray for opportunities like the CABC conference to learn more and connect with other breastfeeding lovers!

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