- Reducing Saturated Fats
It was one of the more shameful chapters of conventional medicine when, for many decades, physicians actively discouraged women from breastfeeding. Fortunately, by the 1970s, the poor judgment inherent in this recommendation had become abundantly clear. Today, there is no longer any doubt regarding what should have been obvious from the beginning: that human breast milk is the ideal food for a human infant.
Not only does breast milk contain all the necessary nutrients, it contains additional substances such as colostrum that provide important health benefits. In addition, human breast milk lacks allergenic substances found in infant formulas based on cow or soy milk. For this reason, breastfeeding, as opposed to formula feeding, may reduce the risk of the infant developing allergy-related diseases such as eczema .
However, nursing can also cause difficulties for the mother of a newborn. Milk flow may be insufficient, the breasts may become inflamed or infected, and when it comes time to stop nursing, there may be an interval of severe discomfort. There are medical treatments available for some of these problems, although in many cases they are more traditional and low-tech than gleamingly modern.
In addition, the constituents of human breast milk can be affected in both positive and negative ways by the mother’s diet. Herbs and supplements, like drugs, should be considered risky in breastfeeding until demonstrated otherwise—but on the other hand, certain supplements for the mother might benefit the baby.
There is considerable overlap in this subject between conventional and alternative medicine, and only the more “alternative” of the relevant information is presented here.
For a discussion of the homeopathic approach to this topic, see the breast engorgement chapter in the homeopathy database.
Promoting Milk Supply
Preventing Eczema and Other Allergic Conditions in Children
General Nutritional Support
Essential fatty acids in the omega-3 family are thought to be essential for infant health, especially brain development, and for this reason it has been suggested that nursing women should supplement their diet with this nutrient.
For more information on a particular herb or supplement, see its entry in the Herbs & Supplements portion of this database.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/18/2014 -