SUPPLEMENTS, NUTRITION & BREASTFEEDING: INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE EXPERT, DR. JEFFREY MORRISON ANSWERS OUR QUESTIONS
Moms, we know how much you care about your baby's health. But don't forget to also take care of yourself! Dr. Jeffrey Morrison and his staff have answered our questions on supplements, nutrition and breastfeeding so new mothers can feel (and look!) their best and get back to optimal health.
1. Are supplements safe to take while breastfeeding? They can be. Most vitamin/mineral supplements are safe, but as with all supplements, it’s best to consult with a health professional. Many supplements pass through to the breast milk, which can be good or not so good, depending on the supplement. It is especially important to be sure the supplements you choose are high quality and third party verified for purity, quality and accuracy. Always read labels and avoid any artificial coloring, sweeteners or other unwanted fillers. Again, a nutrition-focused healthcare provider can help guide you to ensure any supplements you take are safe and of the highest quality.
2. Are there any supplements mothers should avoid while breastfeeding? There are certain supplements and herbs that should be avoided while breastfeeding. Any supplements that promote detoxification or removal of heavy metals are not recommended, since breastmilk is one route for toxins to leave the body. There are certain herbs that may decrease milk supply, including:
- Black walnut
- Lemon balm
- Mint family: peppermint, spearmint, menthol
- Dong Quai
- Star anise
- Uva ursi
- Wormwood / artemesia
3. What about caffeine? Just as with adults, babies metabolize and tolerate caffeine differently. Some babies may be sensitive to caffeine consumed by mom that passes through the breastmilk - meaning, they might be overstimulated and it could affect their sleep. If you notice your baby becomes more wakeful or fussy, consider decreasing your caffeine intake. Caffeine sources include coffee, black, white, and green teas, guarana, and yerba mate.
4. Do you recommend that new mothers test their vitamin/mineral levels after having a baby? If so, what should they test for? We do recommend running nutritional blood tests to allow us to correct any possible deficiencies, ensuring optimal nutrition for both mom and baby during breastfeeding and beyond. The following tests are useful:
- Comprehensive mineral panel
- Fatty acid panel - important for brain development and vision
- 25 OH Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12 and folic acid
5. What are the vitamins/minerals most breastfeeding/postpartum mothers are most deficient in and what are the consequences? The consequences of any nutritional deficiency while breastfeeding is that the milk will also be deficient in whatever the mom is deficient in. This is particularly true with:
- Vitamin D - necessary for strong bones and prevents rickets
- Essential fatty acids like EPA and DHA - necessary for healthy brain function
- Iron - necessary for making blood cells
- Calcium and magnesium - necessary for healthy bones and a calm nervous system
An undernourished new mom may have trouble producing enough milk; we often recommend that nursing moms supplement with these nutrients.
6. Which supplements can help new mothers increase/maintain milk supply? Many herbs are considered galactagogues, meaning they stimulate milk production. These include:
- Fenugreek tea or capsules
- Fennel tea or capsules
- Red raspberry leaf tea or capsules
- Goat’s rue tea
Make sure mom is eating well-balanced meals with protein, fat and carbohydrates. We recommend following the 30:30:40 rule; calorie restriction reduces milk production.
7. How important is proper nutrition during breastfeeding? What should new mothers be eating while breastfeeding? The food mom eats provides the building blocks for breastmilk. Whole, nutrient-dense foods, including plenty of healthy fat, are essential. Key foods include:
- Nuts and nut butters (organic, stored in the fridge)
- Flax seeds and pumpkin seeds (stored in the fridge or freezer)
- Fish rich in healthy fats like wild salmon and sardines (limit large fish due to mercury content - use this website to calculate mercury exposure from different kinds of fish
- Organic, free-range, ideally pasture-raised eggs (with the yolk!)
- Coconut oil &Olive oil
- A wide variety of organic fruits (except citrus) and vegetables (see below for those to avoid) - apricots, berries, papaya, leafy greens like spinach, carrots and asparagus are particularly nutritious!
- Organic nuts and seeds, especially flaxseed
- Whole grains: gluten-free oats, brown rice, quinoa
Remember to avoid:
- Processed foods with artificial ingredients
- Fish high in mercury (tuna, swordfish, king mackerel; enjoy salmon in moderation)
- Coffee and caffeinated teas (see note about caffeine above)
- Citrus fruits (can cause reflux in babies)
- Peppermint (can reduce milk supply)
- Chocolate (can cause digestive upset)
- Excessive alcohol
Remember: No one wants Dorito breast milk!
About Dr. Morrison: Dr. Jeffrey Morrison is trained and board certified as a family practitioner. He opened The Morrison Center in New York City more than 10 years ago to help patients optimize their health and overcome disease through integrative medicine and nutrition. Since then, he has become well known for his ability to alleviate symptoms from unknown causes and for treating and reversing the effects of degenerative diseases, such as arthritis, high blood pressure, hormone imbalance, obesity, diabetes, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, and many other ailments.
About The Morrison Center: The experienced integrative practitioners at The Morrison Center combine the latest breakthroughs in conventional western medicine with the time-tested natural remedies of complementary medicine. By integrating healthcare in this way, they achieve optimal outcomes for their patients. Conveniently located in midtown Manhattan, The Morrison Center offers a wide range of services including nutrition and lifestyle counseling, allergy testing and treatment, pain management with prolotherapy, and more. Learn more about The Morrison Center and their unique approach to individualized health care by visiting the practice website. The Morrison Center is located in Midtown Manhattan at 461 Park Avenue South (at 31st Street). For more information or to make an appointment, please visit their website www.morrisonhealth.com or call the center at 212-989-9828. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for health tips, recipes and more. A big thank you to Dr. Morrison for his time & expertise! Teat & Cosset would also like to thank Stephanie Mandel & Robin Foroutan (below), who are nutritionists at the center, where they partner with patients to improve diet & lifestyle for optimal health. Learn more about nutrition services at The Morrison Center.