Many mothers wonder: Can I take herbs while breastfeeding? The good news is that most TCM herbs are plant-based and will not cause adverse side effects. Traditionally, selected herbs were prescribed to mothers to promote recovery during the confinement period. These herbs are generally safe for anyone to consume.
Recovery after birth
In TCM, once the baby is born, some of mummy’s blood will be converted into breast milk. This is the same blood that was flowing to the placenta prior to delivery. It is normal for new mothers to feel weak after childbirth.
This is a result of deficiency in blood and energy (also known as ‘Qi’), both of which are needed to produce milk. Mothers can take some herbs during the confinement period to help the body address this deficiency.
In TCM, there are two categories of lactation disorders, namely low milk supply and poor milk flow. Low milk supply is due to insufficient Qi and blood supply of the mother and is related to her body constitution.
Stagnation of Qi prevents milk from moving down the ducts and out of the nipple. This can lead to breast fullness, distension, pain and engorgement. Emotions such as stress, anger, resentment, frustration and depression are the main causes of the blockage. These can be alleviated with TCM herbs.
Mastitis is the stagnation of Qi, blood and milk in combination with infection. It is more effective to complement Western medicine with TCM when treating mastitis. While antibiotics help to clear up the infection, Chinese medicine or acupuncture can alleviate the blocked Qi, blood and milk in the breast. The combined treatment will further reduce the engorgement and inflammation. Herbal prescriptions can be consumed safely with antibiotics and are also safe for the breastfeeding infant.
Do note that there are some herbs that breastfeeding mothers should avoid, as they contain high levels of alkaloids, which may negatively impact an infant’s nervous system. Some herbs that contain alkaloids are: huanglian黄连, huangbo 黄柏, dahuang 大黄, fanxieye 蕃泻叶, kushengen 苦参根, wuzuyu 吴茱萸and luhui 芦荟. It is recommended that you consult your physician before taking such medicine.
HERBS FOR BREASTFEEDING MOTHERS
|For mummy’s physical recovery||Stimulate milk production||Boost mummy’s mood||Improve milk flow|