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Breast Health

Insufficient Lactation

What is a Lack of Breast Milk?

A mother should produce adequate amount of breast milk soon after birth. Within 12 hours after giving birth the first amount of milk should come. Generally breast milk will be pale yellow and thick. If very little appears or none comes this poses a problem that needs treatment called insufficient lactation.

This problem may also manifest as small amounts of milk produced throughout breastfeeding months. The amount a mother needs to produce to feed her baby depends mainly on the needs of her infant.

What Causes Lack of Breast Milk

  • Qi and Blood Deficiency
  • Liver Qi stagnation
  • Phlegm and Qi stagnation

Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Qi and Blood Deficiency: Loss of blood and Qi during delivery, weak constitution, or too young or old in age during the pregnancy may all result in not enough milk.

With Qi and blood insufficiency the breasts are overly soft and never get engorged. The milk is thin and watery. These women may have large amounts of lochia discharge postpartum. Generally women with insufficient lactation due to this pattern will also show other symptoms of Qi and Blood deficiency.

Treatment: Nourish Qi and Blood to increase milk production. The herbal medicine formula prescription: Tong Ru Dan or Zhu Ti Tang (Ba Zhen Tang w/ Huang Qi and pig leg)

Liver Qi stagnation: Emotional stress may decrease the amount of milk production. Emotions may also cause breast distension, hard breasts and pain.

Treatment: cause Liver qi to promote milk flow. The herbal medicine formula prescription: Xia Ru Yong Quan + Wang Bu Liu Xing and Chuan Shan Jia will assist.

Phlegm and Qi stagnation: May enlarge breasts, yet breasts stay soft and fatty with no milk, may be overweight, may have lack of milk glands.

Treatment: strengthen spleen to eliminate phlegm. The herbal medicine formula prescription: Lou Lu San (classic) + SP tonics (Huang Qi, Bai Zhu) + Phlegm herbs (Ban Xia, Gua Lou, Bei Mu) + Blood tonics

Maintaining Healthy Breast

Tips on maintaining healthy breasts

Reduce alcohol consumption: A small amount of alcohol can be relaxing and promote stress reduction. However, many studies have shown that alcohol consumption does increase breast cancer rates, so keep its consumption to a minimum.

Include olive oil in your diet: Studies of Italian, Greek, and Spanish women who include olive oil in their diet on a daily basis had at 25% lower rate of breast cancer than women who ate less or no olive oil.

Control overall dietary fats: Cancer studies with a variety of types of cancer indicate that dietary fat is a major player in this disease. It is suggested that dietary fat should be kept under 25%. Some doctors suggest for women who have had cancer, overall dietary fat should be limited to no more than 15% of overall calorie intake.

Find a release valve for your stress: According to Chinese medicine, stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can play an important part in the development of all types of breast disease, both benign and malignant. Chinese medical theories suggest that one of the best things a woman can do for her breast (and overall) health is to find a way to relax and release stress on a daily basis. Such methods may include yoga, meditation, and simple relaxation therapy.

Avoid pesticides and “xeno-estrogens”: Many studies show that cell abnormalities in animals at the top of the food chain are due to the ingestion of concentrated chemicals such as pesticides which tend to act like concentrated estrogen hormones or “xeno-extrogens”. We know that many cancers are estrogen dependent.

Exercise regularly: Exercise releases stress as well as improves sleep, appetite, and mood. In a variety of research studies, both aerobic exercise and weight training have been shown to be beneficial in reducing symptoms in women including sleep disturbances, depression, fibrocystic breast disease, and breast cancer.

Self-massage for the breasts: According to Chinese medicine, massage will help relieve stress and keep the body part receiving the massage more healthy due to improved flow of blood, body fluids, and nerve impulses. Breast self massage can be as simple as 50-100 light circles in each direction over the breast tissue and gentle rubbing over the entire flank and axilla area (underarm) to circulate the lymph glands. These techniques are simple, painless, and require very little time.

Regular monthly breast self-examination: Most women never do breast self-examination! However, women who find a malignant lump when it is still very tiny have a better chance of full recovery than those who wait until it is large. If you are unsure how to do a proper breast self-examination, your gynaecologist, GP or healthcare practitioner, can show you how to do it.

Eat veggies! Studies show that women whose diets are high in vegetable based fiber, have lower rates of breast cancer. Especially the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage) seem to have a stronger cancer-preventing affect. It is recommended to eat 3 or more servings of vegetables every day. Cooked vegetables will be easier to digest.

Consider drinking Chinese herbal tea instead of cola and coffee: There have been many studies on the anti-carcinogenic qualities of Chinese herbal tea. Studies of people in Asia who drink copious amounts of Chinese herbal tea daily show a correlation between Chinese herbal tea consumption and lower rates of a variety of cancers.

Get professional treatment for benign breast diseases: According to some Western studies and Chinese medicine as well, benign breast diseases can signal a predisposition for breast cancer. The good news is that Chinese medicine has many effective treatments for benign breast conditions such as fibrocystic breast disease, mastitis, and premenstrual breast pain. Lumpiness or pain indicate a treatable internal imbalance. Get help if you have such a condition. It could be important for your long term breast health.

Breast health in particular and overall health in general is a lifelong commitment. Different women will have different health care needs and issues. Decisions about your specific needs should be discussed by you and your primary health care practitioner. However, there is a lot that you can do for your self to maintain breast health for life!