Table of Contents
Breastfeeding and Common Nursing Issues
Once a child is born the mother has different options to provide nourishment and food to her baby. The most natural and typically healthiest choice is to breastfeed. Breastfeeding involves the act of feeding the infant or child by way of milk naturally produced in the mother’s breasts. Breast milk is generally considered the best source of nourishment for infants as it is naturally fortified with vitamins, minerals, and the mother’s natural antibodies. However, in some instances complications or difficulties can arise from nursing.
Common issues with nursing take one of two forms – a problem with the actual act of feeding or with the health of the nursing babe. One of the most effective ways to avoid issues with breastfeeding is to introduce the baby to the act of breastfeeding as soon after birth as possible. The first feeding should be completed prior to any other treatment to best benefit the baby and the mother.
In any event, concerns may still arise. Common nursing issues involving the process of feeding include latching pain, cracked or irritated nipples, clogged or plugged milk ducts, engorgement or high milk supply, mastitis, and low milk supply. Problems the baby may experience in conjunction to nursing include latching problems, breathing issues, reflux, colic, sore mouth. Additionally, mothers may be concerned about a health condition or diet choice affecting the baby’s health or nursing ability.
Natural Remedies for Nursing Mothers
In any case, treating nursing issues naturally is the most effective first line of action. Anise seed tee is a natural remedy that helps treat colds and also increases milk production. Apple cider vinegar is another seeming “cure all” remedy for a number of different issues. Diluted apple cider vinegar can be taken orally or applied topically to treat infection and improve energy. Breast milk is also a natural remedy for many nursing issues. Breast milk applied to sore nipples helps relieve the soreness and heal the issue. Breast milk can also be used as a natural decongestant for baby. Cabbage wraps offer breastfeeding mothers relief from clogged ducts as well as engorgement. Using natural methods to treat nursing issues helps mother and baby have a safe and happy breastfeeding experience.
Anise Seed Tea
[YEA] 01/11/2008: Brigitte from Houston, Texas: "re: anise seed tincture for treatment of nonproductive coughs. A nonproductive cough is another name for a dry cough which does nothing to move phlem from the throat and lumgs. This is often a precursor to a more serious ailment like pneumonia. It is of the utmost importance that you remove the excessive phlem from your system. I have found that the best expectorant that I can find is made by placing five tablespoons anise seeds into 1 cup of rum. I take no more than 2 teaspoons of this as needed to induce a cough which allows for the mucus to be removed from the body.
A note to nursing mothers who have problems with milk production; a good side affect of anise is that it increases milk production in lactating mothers. I know this for a fact as my last child was born when I was 40 and I had problems producing milk sufficient to meet my child's needs. Be cognisant of the fact that you do not want to over do it with alcohol if you are nursing as this would be counter productive to the health and well being of the child who depends on you for nourishment. I used an anise tea when I was nursing it works well for increasing milk production."
[YEA] 01/11/2008: Brigitte from Houston, Texas: "To increase milk production drink anise tea. It really works to increase milk supply for lactating mothers."
Antibiotic Use While Breastfeeding
09/12/2013: Rachel from Maryland: "Recently I developed a UTI which became a bladder infection. I was prescribed an antibiotic, which I hate to use. I would like to replace the good bacteria that was lost, so I am considering a probiotic. Is there any reason I should be cautious using one while Breast Feeding?
I also believe I may have a fungal infection on my feet, toes and shins. I have read about ACV and coconut oil. Again, is there anything I should know about starting a regimen while breastfeeding? Would a foot soak be better then taking it internally?
Thank you so much. Your site is wonderful!"Replies
09/13/2013: Mama To Many from Tennessee, Usa replies: "Hi Rachel,
I have used ACV, Coconut Oil and probiotics while breastfeeding. Personally, I think they are all safe to use internally. I have never seen any ill effect from them for myself or baby while breastfeeding.
As far as the fungal infection on your legs/feet, it might help the most to treat internally and externally, especially if it is causing discomfort.
~Mama to Many~"
Apple Cider Vinegar
[NAY] 01/31/2010: Casey from Norwalk, Ohio: "Apple Cider Vinegar and Breastfeeding
I breastfeed my son, and he was 8 months old when I started taking the apple cider vinegar for joint pain. At his age, nothing I ate or drank bothered his stomach, but when I was taking the apple cider vinegar he had frequent stomach aches, was very fussy, and would go days without bowel movements when he normally would have one twice a day. I would definately not suggest drinking apple cider vinegar if you're a breastfeeding mother."
02/18/2009: Danielle from Everett, WA: "I was looking on your site to see if there were any dangers of using ACV while breastfeeding and I see that there are three others with the same question, but couldn't find any answers. I am not having any trouble breastfeeding my 7 month old. My mother in law just started using the daily ACV dose and looks and feels great and has more energy and has not gotten sick this year (she is a grade school teacher). I want to do the same, but want to make sure there will be no problems for my baby or my milk production."
EC: We've been searching the net and this is the typical response to your question:
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Not recommended due to lack of sufficient data.
However, here is one response from mothering.com: (http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=886927)
"When I had some problems with plugged ducts in the early weeks of dd's life, I came here and read some of the threads looking for suggestions. Someone suggested apple cider vinegar in order to prevent plugged ducts/mastitis. I did a search on google and found out that it can be used to prevent mastitis. I've been taking a tbsp daily with a little honey and some cold water. I use Bragg - organic apple cider vinegar. You should not have any problems, in fact it will probably be good for you. That's just my 2 cents
[YEA] 02/18/2009: Earth Clinic replies: "UPDATE: We decided to email the _____ company this afternoon to see if they could answer the question as to if apple cider vinegar is safe for pregnant or nursing women.
John Westerdahl, PhD, MPH, RD and director of the _____ Health Foundation emailed us back, "_____ Apple Cider vinegar is safe to consume for pregnant and lactating women."
Good to know.. FINALLY!"
01/11/2009: Vanessa from Denver, CO, USA: "Please if anybody has any information about taking ACV for weightloss and the side effects it has on breastfeeding, if any, let me know. I was just wondering if there was any reason why I shouldnt be taking it while breastfeeding. Thank you."
01/08/2009: Leticia from Houston, Texas: "Does taking Apple Cider Vinegar affect anything having to do with nursing? My niece has acid reflux and I want to recommend this to her because ACV has helped me so much...can someone shed some light? will it affect an infant thru her milk? If so, what are the side effects?"Replies
[YEA] 02/09/2010: Maggie from Springfield, Il replies: "I took ACV (organic) all through my last pregnancy and while nursing with no problems at all. Helped a lot with the problems of constipation during pregnancy. I also took unsulpherated blackstrap molasses and never needed iron sups (I needed them for my first kids). And oh yes....I had my last when I was 47, am still nursing at 48 1/2 and she is perfectly healthy and I feel great. In fact, I can eat anything (healthy of course) and it doesn't bother her. A very happy baby!"
01/05/2009: Aline from Chico, CA: "I've been drinking the cleansing dosage of water and ACV and like it very much, but I just heard that, while breastfeeding, I shouldn't drink it. Could it harm my 17 months old son? Is it OK to do a "light" cleansing like this at all? Thanks!!"
Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic
03/24/2009: Freeha from Ferwania, Kuwait: "Hi, I am lactation women and i want to know about apple cider vinegar/honey and garlic mix,,,i am using applecider vinegar/honey and garlic mix three times a day and two tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and lime mix in 16oz water and sip all day long for weight loose,,,,so need to know that can i do this during lactation becouse i ahve 8 months old baby ,,,can i use only ACV and lime without baking soda for weight lose during lactation? if the toxins are released to drink all these things then will it harmfull for my baby,,,,If the toxins are entre to baby so what can be heppen ,,is that so danger and what the symptoms if and how do i know that the toxins enter to my babay,, thanks but waiting your feedback,"
[YEA] 06/20/2008: Shirley from Springfield, Missouri: "When you are breastfeeding your newborn and are sore and chapped, try expressing the breast milk, rubbing it into the nipple area, and letting it air dry. When I first start nursing a new baby, I do this 2-3 times a day. It works extremely well! Lanolin cream is great when you need a barrier, but your own breast milk actually heals the soreness. I actually learned this one from my doctor.
My mom taught me that squirting breast milk in your infant's nose is helpful when they are congested."
01/16/2011: Mesem from Toulon, France replies: "For some support and humour go to Utube and enter 'Phyllis Diller Breast Feeding'. This lady was really onto it. Despite her humour to the contrary she was a natural mother and great home maker. Here in France I think you might get put away for being so pro-mothering."
Breast Milk Cures
[YEA] 01/06/2009: Michelle from Regina, Sask., Canada: "Breast milk makes your skin appear younger, remove acne scars and wrinkles. I nurse my daughter and collected a couple drops of breast milk in my hand and put on my face. I leave the breast milk on my face. You can see the results in minutes. The first time I did it, my older daughter asked what I did because she said that I looked so young. Now when I leave the house I put a thin layer of fresh breast milk on my face but I make sure it is only a little bit, all over my face, otherwise the breast milk runs and gets dry and white,then I have to wash and reapply. I have read that breast milk is good for ear infections in babies and I tried it out on my daughter a couple times, I just squirted some breast milk in her ears a couple times a day within a couple of days cleared up. I did want to wean my daughter off but want to try to freeze the breast milk in little ice cubes trays, then use the iced breast milk on my face."
[YEA] 06/24/2009: Ann from Paris, France: "A few years ago, my daughter having had her baby and having chosen to breast feed her, began getting "knots" in her breasts. Apparently the baby was not drinking enough milk to have a smooth flow and the milk was causing congestion in the ducts. The result was very hard and painful swollen breasts.
I believe this is a situation that many nursing mothers face. We tried using fresh cabbage leaves and it worked miracles! Just take the individual leaves, dip in boiling water for a couple of minutes to soften; let cool till warm and wrap the breasts in 2 or 3 layers of leaves. Cover with a warm damp towel and leave for an hour or so, then repeat until the breasts have become supple once again.
Try it, it works! Cabbage works for alot of other types of congestion and swelling and even for wounds. It's a great home remedy."Replies
[YEA] 06/24/2011: Sunnymummy from Seattle, Wa replies: "Cabbage for engorgement is AWESOME! When I had my frist child I got very very engorged, to the point where my breasts were red like they had been sunburned and I could not put my arms at my sides anymore. So I put a head of green cabbage in the fridge and let it get cold. When it was cold I peeled off the largest outside leaves and put them on my breasts and then put a bra on to try to keep them against the skin. There was instant relief from the pain beacause the leaves were cold but after a few hours the swelling had reduced and I was not in excruciating pain. I only had to use this method one more time becasue my child was nursing better so the engorgment was gone but it was awsome when I needed it!"
[YEA] 08/26/2011: Bj from Porirua, Wellington, New Zealand replies: "yes! I did not believe such a simple thing could work and suffered terribly with my two firstborn children. I finally tried it when my 3rd child was born (some many wise years later). It is like a miracle. I used it cold as above, wore one leave as a bra liner, it also helped soften my cracked (bleeding) nipples. Better than anything else."
05/16/2009: Helena from Nashville, TN: "Nursing and Cleansing: Hi...I have a question. I would really like to do some cleansing, but I'm still nursing my 5-month-old baby. Can I use EVCO safely while nursing? Do I need to wait until I stop nursing to start anything new? Thanks for the help!"Replies
06/15/2010: Bekah from Gresham, Or replies: "EVCO is completely safe to use while nursing and while pregnant. There are no known allergies to EVCO and there are hundred of health benefits! Google 'health benefits of coconut oil' you'll be amazied at what you find!"
[YEA] 02/15/2012: Marisa from Norton, Oh replies: "Coconut oil is actually good for mom and baby when she is nursing. Since it is anti- viral, -bacterial, -fungal, she may detox quickly if taken too much at one time. Start slowly, then increase slowly. It is a good immune booster for both, and the fat is good for mom's milk. Coconut oil is especially a good alternative if a mom has to exclude dairy from her diet, as she can easily replace butter in baked goods, cooking, etc."
[YEA] 01/19/2009: Jolynda from Long Beach, California, USA: "Our daughter is almost seven months old and she is breastfed. When I first started nursing I would get these terrible shooting pains as soon as she latched on. It hurt so bad that I almost stopped nursing her! I went to a lactation consultant and she said it was probably thrush. Then I went to my doctor and he said I had clogged ducts and that it would eventually go away as long as I continued nursing. He gave me motrin for the pain. However, the pain stayed for over two months! Then a friend of mine suggested trying dandelion leaves or even dandelion root tea. She said that dandelions will not only help with the milk supply, but it will help the milk flow through the ducts more easily. She said we would be able to find the dandelion leaves in an Asian Market, because they are not found in the regular grocery stores. I tried the dandelion leaves as a salad. It's very bitter so you have to put a lot of dressing on it. I ate this salad for a couple of days and the pain went away! I was so relieved! Then I checked online for the dandelion root tea bags (it's caffeine free). I ordered a few boxes (30 tea bags in each box) and I drink one every day! I have not had any nursing issues since! Just make sure you follow the directions on the box. I once let my tea bag sit in the hot water longer than the suggested time and after I drank it, I had a bad stomach ache! The box I ordered says to steep tea bag in a cup of no more than 6 oz. of boiling water, press the bag and remove. It's still bitter but I add 2 scoops of honey to sweeten. Good luck to all the nursing mothers out there!"
Ductal Yeast Remedies
[YEA] 03/21/2013: Ky Mama from Clinton, Ky: "Hi! I usuallly use earth clinic to find natural remedies but this problem is not too common and wasn't listed here, so I did do reseach and tried many things and seem to be healed. I hope this will be helpful to other breastfeeding mothers who want to treat ductal yeast naturally.
I have a nursing one year old and was suddenly plagued with terrible, terrible pain in the breast. It was a deep, sharp shooting pain. After some studying I realized it was a yeast infection of the milk ducts. I had no visible sings of yeast infection, but that can happen. After I would nurse on the bad side, within 20 minutes I would have pain that about took my breath away. He wasn't nursing a ton and I quickly cut back on nursings on the affected side. I did not want to take Diflucon, I don't respond well to pharmaceuticals, and they are expensive, side effects, etc. Plus, for ductal yeast you have to take it for a month!
So, I started to do everything I could think of or read of that might help. Here is what seemed to knock it out.
- GSE (grapefruit seed extract) 250mg 3x day
- Garlic oil capsules (3, 3 times a day. I am sure a fresh garlic clove three times a day would have been better, but I can't stomach that.)
- Oregano oil capsules - 2, 3x day
- Vitamin C (ideally, tons - to bowel tolerance. ) I did trail off on this at some point as it tends to bother my stomach some.
- Avoid sugar. Limit carbs. (I would have some homemade whole wheat products.)
- Garlic oil - topically (mince a couple of whole bulbs (yes all the cloves in each of two bulbs) and cover it in a combination of coconut oil and olive oil. Let this set for 10 days. Strain out garlic and keep oil in fridge. Apply 3x a day. (Obviously you don't want to wait 10 days for it. Go ahead and get a little out each day- it won't be as strong but better than nothing.)
It took a month or two of treatment. Somewhere in there I found out I was pregnant and cut back the GSE to once a day and quit the oregano oil. My milk dries up when pregnant, so I can't be positive that the lack of food source for the yeast didn't have something to do with this all going away.
Other notes of interest, I think reoccuring mastitis can be cause by yeast. I have mastitis many times with this baby. He is my 9th baby. Only with my first baby 19 years ago did I have this much trouble. (I had at least 75 incidences of plugged ducts in the first year! ) Finally, at a year, nursing was so painful I could barely stand it. The nipple was cracked and bleeding and so painful. (But my baby had food intolernaces and really needed human milk. I couldn't wean him. ) I tried many things. The thing that finally knocked it out was calendula tincture. I would put a dropperful of tincture in a dixie cup of water and hold it over each nipple for a minute or longer after each nursing. It really did work. I could have done that with the ductal yeast and didn't try it. Calendula tinture could also be taken, 1 dropperful 3 x a day internally."