Q: What Are the Alternatives to Breast Milk?

Pregnancy & Fertility | | May 3, 2010 at 10:01 am
Photo by Mai Le.

Photo by Mai Le.

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Q: “I’m having trouble producing milk! I’ve been breast feeding for 3 months now and my milk production has almost completely come to a halt. I’ve heard there are Chinese herbs to promote lactation but I don’t know which ones I should take. I’ve also heard of purchasing milk from another lactating mother, is that a safe option? What other methods will help increase milk production?” Kelly G, Kansas City, MO

A: Acupuncture, in combination with Chinese herbs, is a great way to help promote milk production and flow. Getting a treatment from an acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health, especially in pregnancy and postpartum care, is the best way to find what is best for you. Each person has a unique constitution, and the practitioner will help you get the safest herbal formula for you and your baby.

Purchasing milk from another lactating mother is definitely a good option. Usually this is done through breast milk banks, or you can contact a midwifery  organization or your local hospital.

Another great resource is the La Leche League, a world-wide organization offers help to nursing moms, and can help with all breastfeeding concerns. It may be that you need to change the feeding schedule you are on to boost milk production, and often these small changes can make a big difference.

AmyAmy Chitwood, L.Ac. is a graduate of the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. She is nationally board certified in Chinese herbal medicine and manages the Portland Acupuncture Blog.

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  1. Dr. Nicole Levitt says:

    I had a similar problem and tried everything. What worked the best was making a fresh formula from goat’s milk – there are very good recipes out there. You have to make sure to dilute and supplement the goat’s milk before you give it to baby so check to see that you have a good recipe!

  2. Amy says:

    That is a great suggestion- thank you! I hadn’t realized that it was such a good option for babies. Do you have any recipe ideas that you can share? I’d love to see them.

    Thank you again!

  3. One recipe I used came from this blog:

    It is a raw goat milk formula but store bought goat milk can be used as an alternative.

    This recipe is adapted from Dr. Mary Enig & Sally Fallon’s Milk-Based Formula recipe in Nourishing Traditions:

    Raw Goat Milk Formula
    36 ounces:

    2 cups raw goat milk

    2 cups filtered water

    1/4 cup liquid whey from goat yogurt or kefir (contains lots of good probiotics and is very nourishing; making it more like breast milk. To get whey simply strain goat milk yogurt or fil mjolk from Cultures for Health.

    1 -2 tsp organic blackstrap molassas (start with less, add more if needed. This provides B-vitamins, iron, trace minerals, and helped relieve constipation.)

    2 tsp raw agave nectar (adds carbs, necessary for brain growth. Alternatively, you could use lactose, but I wanted to avoid this as I could not find a source that was made from goat milk since Jonathan was reacting to anything made from cow milk. Organic Brown Rice Syrup is also an option, but I didn’t like the processing involved here. Obviously honey is out.)

    1/4 tsp of bifodobacterium infantis (I used Metagenics “Bifidus” which is a dairy-free culture and of high quality. Also, Bio-Kult is a strong probiotic that has been used with infants as well. Consult your ND! Available through naturopaths, chiropractors, and other practitioners)

    1/2 teaspoon high-vitamin cod liver oil (I used the Quantum brand from Radient Life)

    1 tsp unrefined sunflower oil (Rapunzel brand)

    1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

    2 tsp virgin coconut oil (this is very important, as it contains lauric acid which is a medium-chain fatty acid. It’s an important antiviral, antifungal that’s found in breast milk)

    2 tsp nutritional yeast (this is also very important as it contains the B vitamins. I like Bob’s Red Mill “Food Yeast” )

    1/4 teaspoon amla or NOW acerola powder (I prefer amla, as it does not contain any extra additives, and I found this for cheap in an Indian store)

    Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Pour into individual glass bottles or one large. To warm, place in a pan of simmering water. Never use a microwave. This formula is best made daily to preserve freshness and to optimize nutrition.