Thursday, April 23, 2009

Breastfeeding Protects Women's Hearts...Acupuncture Helps Women Breastfeed

Breastfeeding has long been known to be good for mother and baby. La Leche League International lists many benefits, including that breast-milk is easy for the baby to digest, and has natural antibodies protecting the baby against bacteria and viruses. Now a new study by the University of Pittsburgh has shown that breastfeeding protects women from heart disease, heart attacks and strokes as well.

Published in the May issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the study finds that if a woman breastfeeds for one year or more, she is ten percent less likely to have heart attacks, heart disease or strokes. Dr. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the study says, "Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, so it's vitally important for us to know what we can do to protect ourselves."

The study found that even one month of breastfeeding lowers the rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, all of which lead to heart disease. Yet Dr. Swartz points out, "The longer a mother nurses her baby, the better for both of them."

Acupuncture promotes lactation in many ways, including:

  • Helping relax mom and allowing milk to flow naturally
  • Soothing aches and pain, especially in upper and lower back and neck, which also allows milk to flow more smoothly
  • Smooths flow of Qi (energy) in body
  • Tonifies blood and yin, important after pregnancy and which helps the body produce ample fluids, including breastmilk
  • Clears heat and swelling, in the event a new mom experiences mastitis

Herbal remedies are also available to women who feel they don't have enough milk. Pu Gong Ying (Dandelion), for example, is excellent to promote lactation. Herbalist Susun Weed recommends women begin taking dandelion - either by eating the leaves, drinking the root tea, or as a tincture - the last two months of pregnancy and throughout the time they are breastfeeding.

Other Chinese herbal formulas are more specific: Rambling Formula to assure smooth flow of Qi, and Heat Clearing formulas in the event of mastitis.

If you have any other questions or feel we can be of help to you, either by providing more information or offering an acupuncture appointment, please give us a call at (412) 381-0116. You are also welcome to email:

Thanks so much!
~ Dave and Melissa Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
Birch Center for Health