Does drinking a beer really help milk supply?

In short, no.

This pervasive breastfeeding myth is one a lot of moms really want to hold on to. Here we dissect the science and why some women really feel a beer helps their milk production despite overwhelming scientific evidence that alcohol inhibits milk production and let down.

Some women feel engorged after a beer. This could be happening for several reasons:

1. Babies take in less milk when mom has consumed alcohol. Since the baby has more “left over” milk in the breast, mom may not feel empty and be tricked into think her production is higher.

From Developmental Psychobiology (Mennella, Beauchamp 1993)

“The infants consumed significantly less milk during the 4-hr testing sessions in which their mothers drank alcoholic beer compared to when the mothers drank nonalcoholic beer; this decrease in milk intake was not due to a decrease in the number of times the babies fed. Although the infants consumed less of the alcohol-flavored milk, the mothers believed their infants had ingested enough milk, reported that they experienced a letdown during nursing, and felt they had milk remaining in their breasts at the end of the majority of feedings.”

2. Mom lets down less milk when alcohol is in her system. Again, more milk is left in the breast to trick mom into thinking her production has increased.

3. Timing is powerful. Most of us drink in the evening hours when babies are asleep and going longer between feeds. Prolactin, the milk making hormone, peaks late at night/ early in the morning. This is the time the body is naturally set to make the most milk.

Some women report greater pump output in the morning after having a beer with dinner. Again, if the baby nursed through the night, studies show the baby took in less milk and less milk was let down. There are more “left overs” to pump out, but not actually more milk produced.

But WAIT! Beer is made from lactogenic foods, right?

Thomas Hale’s Medications and Mothers’ Milk (12th ed.):

“Beer, but not ethanol, has been reported in a number of studies to stimulate prolactin levels and breastmilk production. Thus it is presumed that the polysaccharide from barley may be the prolactin-stimulating component of beer. Non-alcoholic beer is equally effective.”

Moms could choose to eat barley. There is nothing inherent in the brewing process or present in alcohol that increases milk production. Also, simply increasing prolactin is not sufficient for increased milk production. Mothers will need to pump or nurse more frequently as well. Increased prolactin will not increase breast storage capacity either.

Where on earth did this myth originate?

No one really knows when the first brewed beverage was recommended for a nursing mom, but we have some great recent history to show about the power of this myth. A long discontinued product called “Malt Nutrine” was made by Anheuser Bush and widely marketed as a health tonic. Antiques aficionados are a great source of info on this marketing campaign directed at pregnant and nursing mothers and even children. See some of these old time advertisements in this gallery! Convents and monasteries were also breweries and provided public health services in times long ago. Nuns often served as midwives and brought brewed drinks to new mothers.

So is alcohol dangerous?

Dr. Jack Newman, from his handout “More Breastfeeding Myths”:

Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all. As is the case with most drugs, very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can take some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does. Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for nursing mothers.

 

Scientific Studies for Further Reading

Marks V, Wright JW. Endocrinological and metabolic effects of alcohol. Proc R Soc Med 1977; 70(5):337-344.

De Rosa G, Corsello SM, Rufilli MP, Della CS, Pasargiklian E. Prolactin secretion after beer. Lancet 1982; 2(8252):934.

Carolson HE, Wasser HL, Reidelberger RD. Beer-induced prolactin secretion: a clinical and laboratory study of the role of salsolinol. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1985; 60(4):673-677.

Koletzko B, Lehner F. Beer and breastfeeding. Adv Exp Med Biol 2000; 478:23-28.

Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. The transfer of alcohol to human milk. Effects on flavor and the infant’s behavior. N Engl J Med 1991; 325(14):981-985.

Cobo E. Effect of different doses of ethanol on the milk-ejecting reflex in lactating women. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1973; 115(6):817-821.

Mennella JA. Regulation of milk intake after exposure to alcohol in mothers’ milk. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2001; 25(4):590-593.

How Do Moms Pump Enough to Return to Work?

Many moms want a safety net of pumped milk in the freezer for their return to work away from their babies. While it’s only necessary to have enough milk saved for the first two days back at work, many moms want to save several days or even weeks worth of feedings during their maternity leave.

Please read What to Expect When Pumping to trouble shoot and get the most out of your pumping experience. This article addresses how to juggle pumping during your maternity leave and during the working day.

When to start building a “stash”

Most women start with over production. The first 10 weeks of breastfeeding are the easiest for milk collection. This is also a critical time for conditioning the body to respond to a pump. Ideally, moms should nurse on cue and spend a great deal of time resting skin to skin with their babies for the first 2 weeks. Once baby has regained birth weight, around day 10-15, it’s time to try pumping.

Milk collection is easiest in the morning hours when the milk making hormones are highest. Beginning at this favorable time will help make pumping a more positive experience. After nursing the baby, pump either one or both sides for 20 minutes each. Even if the milk stops flowing, continue pumping for 20 minutes per side.

Weeks 2-4, pump one time per day in the morning after nursing. Expect to collect 1-2 ounces each day. Remember: 20 ounces is enough milk for about 16 hours of mother-baby separation.

If you wish to increase your daily milk collection, add a second daily pumping session weeks 4-6. Pumping only twice a day will help you collect several days worth of milk before returning to work.

If your baby cues to nurse after pumping, just nurse. The breasts are never truly empty until you wean. The more milk removed, the faster the glands work to produce more milk. No pump is as efficient as a baby who is properly latched. There is no need to feed the baby the pumped milk in place of nursing.

If your maternity leave is longer than 6 weeks, continuing pumping 1-2 times per day as is possible for the duration of your leave. This helps maintain a conditioned response for more efficient pumping in the future.

When to Pump at Work
No two work environments are the same. No two work days are the same. Not every work environment allows for predictable or scheduled pumping sessions. Things to consider:
– aim to pump every 1-3 hours. This is a range. Babies and breasts are flexible.
– don’t feel trapped on a schedule
– if you anticipate a long meeting or event you cannot break out of, consider pumping once an hour for 2-3 hours beforehand and/or afterward
– your body does not require you to pump on a set schedule just as your baby does not feed at set time
– a hands free pumping bra can help you pump during your drive to and from your work location
– hand expression may help moms who have a short break but can’t make it to the pumping room
– taking a lunch break to nurse your baby may be easier than pumping as frequently at work

Visit Us in our New Clinic

Starting October 1st. 2014!

Oasis Lactation Services is pleased to announce that we will be seeing patients in-clinic in addition to our home visit services. Some benefits of in-clinic services include:

-Direct billing to insurance providers, reducing out-of-pocket costs
-Immediate access to a licensed prescriber should mom or baby need medicines
-Immediate access to a pediatrician should baby need care
-The same quality and personalized service as home visits

This breastfeeding clinic is made possible by a new partnership with Oakhurst Pediatrics. Any nursing mother can schedule a clinic visit. The service is not limited by which primary care provider or pediatrician you normally see.

To schedule an in-clinic breastfeeding consult (pre-natal or postpartum) contact:

404-371-9838

Please request a lactation evaluation.

 

The office is located at:

317 West Hill Street, Decatur, GA, 30030

 

Emily Kanaan and Jessica Doyle

Are there really herbs that help mothers make more milk?

This is one of the most common things women discuss about breastfeeding: what herbs and supplements they are taking to boost their milk powers. The herbal remedy policy at Oasis Lactation Services is:

1. Follow evidence-based guidelines
2. Choose interventions of non-maleficence (things that can’t hurt)
3. Do not prescribe

Currently, OLS has no research to support the use of herbal remedies in human lactation. The studies available for many of the herbs that are commonly suggested in mother-to-mother settings do not show improved lactation outcomes. There is a single study on the herb moringa in the pre-term infant population. These studies do not confirm that these herbs are lactogenic across the population.

Currently, the most evidence-based guideline for managing milk production is to assist the mother-baby dyad in proper latch. Proper breast pump use is recommended if direct nursing is not available.

Some herbal remedies are contraindicated with breastfeeding and/or pregnancy. Fenugreek is commonly recommended in mother-to-mother settings. This herb is deemed unsafe for pregnancy by herbalists and other health care professionals. Just because something is “natural” does not mean it is safe. Because there are risks involved in venturing outside the scope of evidence, it is our policy not to recommend herbs.

Diet studies have shown that mothers globally make very similar milk regardless of maternal diet. Only in situations of famine, extreme diet restriction, and severe maternal malnutrition are there notable differences in the milk. Taking a certain herb will not enrich the milk or change its components.

In short, if a mother needs to increase her milk production, follow the law of supply and demand. Make certain the baby is latching well and use a properly fitting breast pump if the baby is not available.

7 Things You Can Do Right Now with a Fussy Baby

Hop in the Bath
Babies love baths. Mommies often need one too. Co-bathing can calm and focus your baby. Babies who are frustrated at the breast often respond well to nursing in the bath.

Magic Baby Hold
It’s magic. Hold the baby like this. Magic Baby Hold with Bill

Swing and Sway
Not just the baby swing. Babies calm faster in arms. Swing with your baby on your lap on your porch swing or glider.

Nurse in a Carrier
Nursing in a carrier allows the baby to be upright and compressed. This helps with reflux symptoms and gas.

Play with Temperature
Take some frozen milk out and spoon feed it to your baby or put it in a mesh feeder. The cold is exciting and different.

Get Outside
Even if the weather is crummy, just standing on the porch may change things.

Play with Texture
Let your baby touch something interesting and new. A tooth brush or cotton ball or sand or salt. Watch that these things stay away from the mouth. Novel sensory experiences can change your baby’s outlook pretty rapidly.

Film Screening “Breastmilk” in Roswell, GA

Oasis Lactation Services is pleased to announce our sponsorship for the screening of the documentary film “Breastmilk” produced by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. This film, from the women who brought us “The Business of Being Born,” focuses on the breastfeeding and postpartum experiences of a variety of women and families.

Wednesday December 4th, 2013. Seating begins at 7:15pm. 7:30pm film starts, and expo and special guest Q & A following

Aurora Cineplex is located at 5100 Commerce Parkway, Roswell, GA 30076

More information from Belies to Babies Foundation

Finding Your Perfect Lactation Counselor: Meet Meredith

meredithfall2013It helps to work with someone who has been where you are when mothering is hard. Meet Meredith and read her success story that includes a cesarean birth, lip tie, tongue tie, and over supply.

Meredith Jacobsen has been helping individuals and couples transition into parenthood for over a decade. Working first as a nanny, newborn specialist, postpartum doula, and then labor doula before finally serving as a lactation counselor, she has assisted with every step along the way of this transformative time.

Meredith provides home visits for Oasis Lactation Services. She enjoys working with families, one on one, in their home to give them the information and confidence they need to reach their breastfeeding goals. This personalized assistance can help with troubleshooting breastfeeding issues like latch or milk supply difficulties as well as addressing questions about normal newborn behavior and parenting, such as sleep patterns or pumping and preparing to return to work. She also enjoys supporting growing families by teaching prenatal breastfeeding and baby care classes in a group setting.

On a personal level, Meredith understands the challenges that can come with breastfeeding after a difficult birth. Surgical deliveries can often lead to physical challenges with breastfeeding as well as emotional challenges, especially when the mother was preparing for a natural birth. Luckily, these can be minimized by preparing during pregnancy by taking classes, getting involved in support groups, and knowing who to call if you need help after the birth.

After spending years working as a labor doula and preparing for a natural water birth, Meredith was crestfallen when she needed a cesarean. Exhausted and emotionally drained from a long labor and recovering from surgery, she also found herself struggling with the ability latch thanks to her daughter’s lip and tongue ties and her own issues with oversupply.

Thankfully, she had a support system in place to assist with these difficulties. She was able to overcome all of these challenges and breastfeed her daughter without any supplementation. They have met the World Health Organization’s recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding and continue to have an enjoyable nursing relationship while adding complementary solids. This healthy, happy nursing relationship has been a healing experience after a disappointing birth. And because of that, Meredith is especially passionate about helping other mothers who have struggled with births that did not go as planned.

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