The Elephants

The sun beats down, dust swirling as pain surges through your body. Vulnerable and wounded, you’re unable to stand. Predators have left you torn, and vultures begin to circle overhead. Gathering strength, you try to stand but collapse again. The thunder of feet causes you to open your clenched eyes, lurching to awareness. Shadows pass over you as huge figures block out the light. Have the enemies returned? No. Allies have arrived.

Side by side, backs to you, your community encircles to protect you. No predator stands a chance against this impenetrable ring of females. Stomping, trumpeting, tusks brandishing, it is clear that no danger is a match for these fearless defenders. Rescued, relief washes over you as you rest and heal. When your strength returns, upheld by this sisterhood, together you march proudly home.

This is the scene as an elephant faces a predator, soothes an injury, or gives birth to her baby. Protected by a ring of others, elephants experience these life changing moments safely surrounded by their community. They guard each other, support one another, reinforce each other in weakness, and celebrate together in victory.



Milky Mommas is built on the foundation of this Elephant story.

We encircle our sisters as they pass through the most challenging hours, days, and seasons of life. None of us is ever alone, no matter how grueling the trial. There is nothing as formidable as a community of women, committed to doing life together.

When you bring your baby home and feel completely overwhelmed? We’ve been there.

When you’re up at 3am with a child who just won’t nurse to sleep? Your sisters are up too.

When you reach an important milestone and nobody else understands? We get it.

We show up.
We protect.
We defend.
We stick around through the hard stuff.

We lock arms to protect the momma in pain.

We lift up the momma in the midst of trials.

We laugh, we mourn, and we celebrate- together.





One of our sisters is in the midst of a dark season- something no woman should face. We will not let her face it alone. Please join us in support and love of this momma, as we walk with her through the darkness- as we surround her with protection, support, and love.






Subscribe to this blog to be notified as we host this momma as a guest blogger. She’ll share her heart with us while she bravely takes on a challenge no woman ever should.

She is walking through the fire- please join us as we walk with her.



(Featured Image Credit – David Yarrow)

Shipping Breast Milk

Donating milk to a momma across the country, or around the world? Then this article is for you! Here are some tips and tricks on sending breast milk through the mail.

To Ship FROZEN Breast Milk
Keep it frozen and well protected, and ship it quickly.
You will need:
  • a styrofoam cooler
  • packing materials
  • a large cardboard box
  • dry ice
  • duct tape
Dry ice can be found at most grocery stores. Here, the brand is called Penguin Brand Dry Ice. Calling around is your best bet to find this at a store in your area. You’ll need a small cooler; styrofoam will work fine.
Don’t skimp on the dry ice. It evaporates quickly so a good bit is needed, around 5 to 10lbs., depending on the distance. Keep it in the plastic that it comes in and put it in the bottom of the cooler. Place newspaper or brown kraft paper over the top as an extra barrier. If dry ice touches the milk bags, it will damage them INSTANTLY.
Place frozen milk on top (inside of gallon zippered storage bags is best). You may choose to do another layer of dry ice if you wish, depending on how much breast milk you’re shipping. Be sure to put a barrier between each layer. Put the lid on the cooler and duct tape it securely closed. The lid has to stay on! Place the cooler inside of a cardboard box, sliding extra newspaper, bubble wrap, brown kraft paper, etc. into any gaps to try to keep the cooler in place.
Mark it “^This Side Up^” and tape it well. It will be shipped by weight. It needs to be sent overnight or no longer than Express 3 Day. Shipping cost can be pricey. A shipment of about 200 oz sent from LA to GA has run about $75 through FedEx. In my experience, USPS is much more expensive.
From a mother who shipped regularly:
“I shipped about 200-250 ounces on multiple occasions from New Orleans to Georgia. I got an account with Fedex and paid about $65-$75 each time. (I shipped) Two day AM. I also forgot to mention the cost of the ice chest and dry ice. Probably Adds another $10-$15.
I think the trick is to get a Fedex account. It was free to do and I got a big discount each time I used them. I always shipped to Christine Rushing and she commented that my shipping was cheaper than others she was dealing with. Did the foam cooler and something like 5 lbs of dry ice. And like I said, each shipment was between 200 and 250 oz.
I did everything online and then just dropped it off. I made an account, used my baby scale to weigh the package, filled out the info, made the payment, and printed the label. Then I taped it on using clear packing tape and taped up the box. We Have a local Fedex pickup where I can drop off for $1 or I can bring it another 5 miles away to the Fedex Kinkos. Since I had already done everything, I Literally just handed them the box, no questions asked. I did that like 5 times, at least. Easy peasy.
I think the box + cooler + 250 oz + 5ish lbs dry ice was never more than 25 or so lbs. And we had no problems with melting at 2 day AM shipping. I found there was a big break in price between overnight and 2 day AM (like even less than half the price). I just did a pretend one with a 25 lb box from NOLA to Savannah with 2 day AM and it’s saying $55.23.”
Alternatively, I have shipped a larger quantity of breastmilk farther by purchasing a large, hard plastic cooler that would fit greater quantities of dry ice (around 20lbs) and accommodate more frozen milk (around 350oz). I also purchased a combination lock. I drilled holes in the cooler and installed the lock so that it could be sealed. I sent the combination to the lock to the recipient in a separate message. It was shipped over 1000 miles, but made it still perfectly frozen. This was shipped through the USPS, 3 Day, and the cost was around $290.
Shipping breast milk can be expensive, but it is an incredible gift to the recipient mom and baby!

Becoming an IBCLC

All the info you need to figure out how to become an IBCLC can be found on the website for the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. The first time I visited the website, I found it a bit confusing, so I’ll lay out some things here to help clear it up.

First, there are several different lactation helper levels; only one is IBCLC. This post is primarily about how to become an IBCLC, but I figured it’s useful to understand the different levels of lactation support you may encounter.
● IBCLC– International Board Certified Lactation Consultant – studied in depth the
science of lactation, put in many hours (sometimes 1000 or more) of in-person work with lactating women, sits for an exam similar to boards for doctors. This is the only internationally standardized lactation credential available.
● CLC – Certified Lactation Counselor – taken a 45-hour course in breastfeeding
management training and passed a final examination. CLCs are required to obtain
continuing education credits every 3 years to maintain their certification.
● CLE – Certified Lactation Educator – taken a 20-hour lactation education course. Their
primary role, as the name suggests, is to educate families interested in learning more about breastfeeding.
● LLLI Leaders – La Leche League International Leaders – accredited by La Leche League International to offer mother-to-mother support for breastfeeding. LLLI Leaders have breastfed their own babies for at least nine months, adhere to LLLI statements of belief, and have demonstrated knowledge of breastfeeding through essays and personal work with her supporting Leader as well as the Leader Accreditation Department. Generally, a Leader works for about a year to earn her accreditation.
● PC – Breastfeeding Peer Counselors – someone who offers mother-to-mother support for breastfeeding, advocates for breastfeeding as the normal, optimal way of feeding an infant, and helps to establish or prolong the time spent breastfeeding. Peer counselors are accredited by various agencies (WIC, for instance) and have varying qualifications. Most have completed around 20 hours of training and taken some sort of examination.


Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty about how to become an IBCLC — again, all this info (and more, in much more detail) can be found at

There are three pathways through which you can obtain your certification — I won’t go into the details of each pathway, but I’ll give you some help in deciding which one might be for you. They are outlined in detail here.

Before I talk about the specific pathways, regardless of which pathway you choose, all require the following:
● 14 health sciences courses — if you have an undergraduate degree in some science, you may have a lot of these already covered. Details about the requirements are outlined here.
● At least 90 hours of lactation specific education that was completed within the 5 years immediately prior to applying for the IBLCE examination. The lactation specific
education may be obtained through classroom, distance learning, and/or online
education. Keep in mind that many courses are listed as 50 min, and not a true hour.
You need 90 full hours (60 min each).
● In-person lactation specific clinical experience — the extent and type of this experience changes with the different pathways.

Now, here are the three pathways with a small level of detail to help you decide which one fits your situation best. Again, all are outlined in detail here.
● Pathway 1 — this pathway is for people who already have a degree in one of the
recognized health professions. These professions include: dentist, dietician, midwife, nurse, occupational therapist, pharmacist, physical therapist or physiotherapist, physician or medical doctor, speech pathologist or therapist.
You can also choose this pathway if you work/volunteer as one of the recognized
mother support counselors. The difference between this pathway and pathway 3 is that you do your 1000 hours of lactation specific clinical hours while working/volunteering in one of the above capacities (more on pathway 3 below).
● Pathway 2 — this pathway requires that you graduate from an academic program in
human lactation and breastfeeding which IBLCE approves. Currently, there are 5 of
these programs in the USA.
● Pathway 3 — this pathway requires you to make a plan that is verified and approved by IBCLE. I like to think of this pathway as the one for the lay person. You do your lactation specific clinical hours under the supervision of an IBCLC mentor. Before you begin, you make a plan with your mentor for the successful completion of your certification and IBCLE approves that plan.

I think that about covers it! If you have more questions about this process, please feel free to ask them in the comments below. We have a few members/admins who are in the middle of this process, and we have a couple IBCLCs in the Facebook group as well.


Probiotics are living microorganisms. They improve digestive health and boost immune health. You might consider introducing probiotics if you or baby have had a round of antibiotics (antibiotics kill all good and bad bacteria in the body, which opens the door for thrush!), when solids are introduced, if baby is struggling with gas/colic, during cold/flu season, or anytime, simply to maintain good gut health.

It can be beneficial for all mommas and babies to take probiotics for immune and digestive health benefits! Probiotics are generally considered safe during breastfeeding and pregnancy. Very little probiotics are transferred through breastmilk, so if it is medically indicated, babies should have their own probiotics. As always, consult a healthcare provider before introducing any supplement to your or your baby’s diet.

Here are some of our favorite brands:

  • Klaire Labs Infant powder, Children’s chewable, or Women’s capsule *Allergen Free*
  • Udo’s Choice Infant or Adult (contains milk and soy)
  • Renew Life Ultimate Flora Baby or Women’s (contains milk and soy)
  • Garden of Life Kids or Women’s (dairy and gluten free)

These are all powders that need to be kept cold. You can put a dab on your nipple before nursing, on a pacifier or your finger, or you can mix with breastmilk and give via a syringe or in a sippy cup or bottles.

There are some shelf-stable brands like Culturelle which can help but they are not nearly as effective as the kind that needs to be kept cold. You can find many of these at Whole Foods, any natural food store, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe,, or Amazon. Sometimes CVS and other pharmacies have them, just ask the Pharmacist.


Is it Time to Wean?

Sooner or later, every breastfeeding mother faces the prospect of weaning. It begins when you start offering anything other than breastmilk to a breastfed baby. It is nice to know that weaning is a natural part of development. It is best to determine when to wean based on the mother and child’s needs, not the expectations of others.
If you’re considering weaning your child, it might be best to clarify your feelings—why do you want to wean? What are your goals? It’s important to understand that your feelings will affect your child. If you’re feeling anxious or worried, your child may pick up on that and want to nurse more, creating a vicious cycle that will leave you both frustrated.
Determine your goals—what do you want to or believe you will achieve? Do you want your child to be more independent? Or is more sleep what you’re after?
Next, are your goals realistic? Many women wean thinking that their child will now sleep through the night and that just isn’t the case. “Sleeping through the night” is a very loose term, but for most professionals, sleeping 4-5 hours in one stretch is considered “sleeping through the night.” So, logically, if an infant goes to bed at 9:00 pm and only wakes at 3:00 am, he’s already sleeping through the night. Weaning most likely will not affect that. Instead of being able to easily comfort a child back to sleep with nursing, you’ll now be stuck with trying other methods to comfort a now awake child.
For an older baby or toddler, nursing is not just about food, necessarily. Nursing is a source of comfort and feeling of closeness to momma.
It is important to also note reasons not to wean. Those reasons include:
  • Teething
  • Mastitis
  • Returning to work
  • Mom or baby facing surgery or medications
  • Mother or baby’s illness or hospitalization
  • Pregnancy
Although each of the reasons listed above presents challenges, usually a solution can be found that does not require weaning. However, a nursing relationship is a symbiotic relationship and can only continue as long as both parties—mom & baby—are happy.

Approaches to Weaning

Gradual weaning is best. This allows mom’s body to naturally decrease her milk production, preventing mastitis and a host of other problems. How you wean will largely be determined by the age of your child.
  • 0-9 mos: you’ll need to substitute bottles instead of nursing.
  • 9-12 mos: you can use sippy cups/other foods to replace some nursing sessions **Please consult your pediatrician to determine best ways to meet your child’s nutritional needs.**
  • > 12 mos: planned weaning of a toddler should be a positive experience that helps a child develop independence.
One approach you might consider is Partial Weaning. Partial Weaning includes eliminating some, but not all nursing sessions. If your child is older than 1 year, you can also try shortening the nursing sessions. If your child is less than 1 year, though, it is best to consult with the doctor to make sure your child’s nutritional needs are being met.
Until at least 1 year, a breastfed baby gets most of their nutrition from nursing. If you are cutting those nursing sessions or shortening them, you will need to substitute with something—formula, pumped milk or other foods. You might be able to make up that missed nursing session with food and drink, or substitute with formula or pumped milk (either from mom or donor milk).
Abrupt Weaning is extremely hard on both mom and baby. For the mom, the physical discomfort and risk of mastitis or breast abscess is a very real possibility. Also, there will be hormonal changes as a result. The hormone prolactin is associated with feelings of well-being. Abrupt Weaning will cause a sudden drop in prolactin, which can lead to mood changes and is associated with depression.
For the baby, abruptly stopping can be especially traumatic. Nursing is not only food, it is comfort and closeness. If that is suddenly gone, the emotional trauma to a baby or toddler can be severe, leaving the child feeling as if the mother has withdrawn her love and rejected him.

Methods of Gradual Weaning

There are six strategies you can use to start weaning, gradually. They are listed and discussed below.
  • Changing your daily routine: Most children have certain times and places they expect to nurse. Think about your routines. Try to come up with a way to change your routine so that your child is not reminded of nursing. For example, when my oldest son was weaning, I could not sit down in our nursing chair. As long as I didn’t sit down in that chair, he was not reminded of nursing. On the upside, my house has never been so clean!
  • Daddy’s turn: Remember all those feedings in the middle of the night when baby wanted no one but momma? Remember those nights where you tried for hours to get your baby to go to sleep and Daddy just slept or did his own thing? *This* is when you get payback! Remember when Daddy complained, “When do I get to help?” Well, now’s the time! Daddy can start helping by getting up in the night and handling those bottles (if your child is less than 1 year). If your routine has been to nurse first thing in the morning, perhaps Daddy can get up and fix your child breakfast, thereby breaking up that nursing routine. If your routine has been that you do baths and then nurse down for the night, perhaps now Daddy can take over that chore of giving baths and settling down for the night by reading a book.
  • Anticipate nursing and distract with a substitution: This method works better for some children than others, so if it doesn’t work, don’t stress yourself. This method works well for older children who are not dependent on nursing for nutrition. If you are familiar with your child’s routines and can anticipate when he will want to nurse, you can offer a snack and drink before he asks to nurse. Then distract with something else, like playing with a new toy, going to the park, playing with older children. Once the child has already asked to nurse, it will be much harder to distract and/or substitute.
  • Postponement: This method works better and easier for older children that understand the sequence of events. If your child can understand “Not Now… when Momma gets done [insert activity here].” Or if your child understands “Only when the sun is up/down” or “Only at night-night time.” Sometimes they will forget about asking to nurse again.
  • Shorten length of nursing sessions: If you are able, you can shorten how long your child stays latched. Many women either set an alarm on their phones or use a count-down method (“Ok, now I’m going to count down. When I get to 1, you need to let go.”).
  • Bargain: If all else fails, bribe ‘em! Just kidding, but seriously, some children can be motivated to stop nursing with the promise of a new toy or new privilege.
Most importantly, it is imperative that you, the mom, remain flexible. Understand that some nursing sessions are more important than others (i.e. bedtime, during an illness). Weaning is a process. It is not going to happen overnight or possibly even over a week or month. It might take months. And some days will be better than others.
Sometimes, it’ll even be two steps forward and one step back before any sort of progress will be made.
There are certain behaviors associated with weaning too fast. If your child starts to exhibit these signs, you are strongly encouraged to back off on the weaning process for a little bit and resume some time in the future.
  • Child becomes upset/cries/distraught/insists upon nursing
  • Stuttering
  • Night-waking increases
  • Increased clinginess during the day
  • New attachment to an object or a toy
  • New or increased fear of separation
  • New habit of biting.
For mom, there are also signs that weaning is going too fast. Signs for mom include:
  • Mastitis or breast abscess
  • Uncomfortably full feeling of the breasts
  • Feelings of resentment
  • Being overwhelmed with meeting the child’s needs to make up for not nursing.

Weaning is an emotional process for mothers and children. It is a transition from some of the last parts of babyhood into full fledged toddler or childhood. With the freedom of weaning comes new challenges and stages in your child’s live. We wish you all the best!

Postpartum Depression & Other Postpartum Issues

You are not alone.

It is not your fault.

There are treatments that can help you feel better.

Talk to your healthcare provider so you can start feeling like yourself again.

What You Should Know

“Depression during and after pregnancy occur more often than most people realize.

Depression is considered a postpartum illness if it affects the mother within 1 year of the baby’s birth. Late onset is common and just as real as early feelings of depression. Other life events or major stressors, such as having trouble conceiving, or losing a pregnancy, can also trigger depression.”

If you are concerned about your mental health, please contact your healthcare provider. There are treatment options, medicinal and otherwise, that can help you cope, heal, and thrive in your new life as a mother.


Identifying PPD

PPD is a spectrum, and does not always involve feelings of harm toward yourself or your baby, though it can. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms and suspect you may be dealing with PPD, contact your OBGYN, midwife, or general practitioner to see what treatment options may be best for you.

Postpartum depression can be identified by some of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling sad or low
  • Feeling more tired than usual, or having less energy during the day
  • Feeling upset or annoyed at little things
  • Having trouble thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Having no appetite or habitually overeating
  • Worried you might hurt yourself or feeling you want to die
  • Having trouble enjoying things that used to be fun
  • Feeling like you have nobody to talk to
  • Feeling you can’t make it through the day
  • Feeling worthless or hopeless
  • Having headaches, backaches, or stomachaches
  • Problems sleeping when baby sleeps, or sleeping too much
  • Feeling numb or disconnected from your baby
  • Having scary or negative thoughts toward your baby
  • Worrying you might hurt your baby
  • Feeling worried that something bad might happen
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed at your job as a mom

(Checklist taken from


What to do if this sounds like you

Contact your OBGYN or primary care provider. There are treatment options ranging from homeopathic or natural remedies and therapies, to support groups or prescription medications. There is help and support out there for you! Don’t put off your own health; for your own sake, and the sake of your baby, you deserve to feel happy, stable, and well.


Since these post-partum disorders include a wide spectrum of symptoms, treatments vary widely as well. Medications are one option that many women find very effective, but non-medicinal treatments have also been found to reduce symptoms effectively. Talk to your doctor about a treatment program appropriate for your symptoms. Treatment options may include the following:

  • Attending one-on-one or group therapy sessions,
  • Prescription antidepressants,
  • Improving general health including increased rest, physical activity, and healthy diet choices,
  • Adding vitamins and supplements possibly including St. John’s Wart, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, saffron, or S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) to your diet (contact your physician before taking any supplements), or
  • Other lifestyle changes to support healing, including, making time for self care, reaching out to family and friends for support, and simplifying day-to-day expectations to make success more feasible.


Risk Factors

“Research shows that all of the things listed below put you at a higher risk for developing these illnesses. If you have any of these factors, you should discuss them with your medical provider so that you can plan ahead for care should you need it.

  • A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS)
  • Inadequate support in caring for the baby
  • Financial stress
  • Marital or relationship stress
  • Complications or trauma in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
  • A major recent life event: loss, house move, job loss
  • Multiple child pregnancy
  • Infant in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)
  • History of infertility treatments
  • Thyroid imbalance
  • Any form of diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational)

“Approximately 15% of women experience significant depression following childbirth. The percentages are even higher for women who are also dealing with poverty, and can be twice as high for teen parents. Ten percent of women experience depression in pregnancy. In fact, perinatal depression is the most common complication of childbirth.

Postpartum and antepartum depression are temporary and treatable with professional help. If you feel you may be suffering from one of these illnesses, know that it is not your fault and you are not to blame.”



Other Postpartum Disorders

Depression is the most common postpartum disorder, but certainly not the only one. Some mothers find they experience symptoms of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress, bi-polar disorder, and psychosis. Following are some links that can help you assess whether you may be experiencing one of these other postpartum disorders.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder:

Bipolar Mood Disorders:


Postpartum Support International – 1-800-944-4773 –

** PostpartumSupport International is not a crisis hotline and does not handle emergencies. People in crisis should call their physicians, their local emergency number or one of the National Emergency Hotlines listed below.

Map of local support groups by state –

National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255 –

Non-USA Support Resources –

Alcohol & Breastfeeding

Alcohol and breastfeeding is a topic that comes up every day in the MM community. The information provided here is intended to help women research and educate themselves to make an informed decision for themselves and their families. We encourage all of our members who choose to drink to do so responsibly, in moderation, and occasionally.


The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs considers
alcohol compatible with breastfeeding. It lists possible side effects if
consumed in large amounts, including: drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness,
and abnormal weight gain in the infant, and the possibility of decreased
milk-ejection reflex in the mother.

Dr. Jack Newman, member of the LLLI Health Advisory Council, says this
in his handout “More Breastfeeding Myths”:

Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all. As is the case
with most drugs, very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can
take some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does.
Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive
for nursing mothers.”

 Thomas W. Hale, R.Ph. Ph.D., member of the LLLI Health Advisory Council, says this in his book Medications and Mothers’ Milk (12th ed.):

“Significant amounts of alcohol are secreted into breastmilk although it is not considered harmful to the infant if the amount and duration are limited. The absolute amount of alcohol transferred into milk is generally low.

Alcohol transfers readily into human milk. Alcohol is not stored in milk;
rather it enters and exits according to blood alcohol level. Levels of alcohol in milk peak at approximately 30 to 60 minutes following ingestion, then decline rapidly if no more is ingested.

Evidence shows that excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages during lactation affected infant development, such as weight and linear growth from 1 to 57 months.”

In terms of milk supply, new data now clearly demonstrate that alcohol
actually inhibits oxytocin release from the pituitary, thus impeding the let down process so that milk is not released from the breast as efficiently. One study showed a 23% reduction in milk release while alcohol is present in the mother’s blood. In another study, alcohol completely blocked the release of oxytocin.

While many people believe that dark beer enhances milk supply, that belief is purely anecdotal. If you choose to have one drink while nursing, it should be metabolized before your next nursing session (unless your infant is cluster feeding).

Standard drinks are measured as follows:
12 oz beer,
8-9 oz malt liquor,
5 oz wine, or
1.5 oz liquor.

Pump and Dump?

Because alcohol is not stored in milk, there is no need to pump and dump
to rid your milk of alcohol. However, nursing mothers may need to express
milk for comfort and to avoid milk stasis while too intoxicated to nurse. This milk can be used for a milk bath or diluted with milk that doesn’t contain alcohol and fed at another time.

If you are very concerned or intend to consume several servings of alcohol
in one sitting, you can pump ahead of time and store expressed breast milk to be used in case your infant needs to be fed while you have a drink or two. Then, when enough time has passed for alcohol levels to go down, you may resume breastfeeding.

Please Note:
● Alcohol test strips are NOT reliable.
● Infants should NEVER EVER EVER bed share with an adult who has been
drinking alcohol.
● Chronic or heavy users of alcohol should not breastfeed.

Additional Resources:

● To calculate BAC based on weight and standard drink count:,_tobacco,_&_other_drugs/alcohol/alcohol_&_your_body.php

Weight Loss and Dieting for the Breastfeeding Momma

NOTE: This document (and any publication by Milky Mommas Inc.) is not a replacement for personalized medical advice from your healthcare provider. Before making any diet or lifestyle changes, including adding diet products or supplements to your diet, always contact your doctor to review their safety and appropriateness for your individual health.

It is commonly said that breastfeeding helps mothers lose weight. While some women find that nursing helps the baby weight fall right off, that is just not the case for everyone. It is true that exclusively nursing burns 500 calories a day, but not all
breastfeeding moms have an easy time losing weight. Hormonal changes, increased hunger, and potential thyroid issues after pregnancy can all contribute to troubles losing that extra baby weight.



It is also very normal for a nursing mom’s body to hold on to around 10 lbs of “extra” weight. This is a biological mechanism to protect you and your baby in case of a famine—this 10 lbs could help ensure both of your survival if food were to suddenly become unavailable. Some women find they have the opposite problem, and lose more weight than is healthy or safe. This too can be a sign of thyroid or other health issues, and women experiencing this should see their healthcare provider. The healthiest, safest way to lose weight while nursing is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet of whole foods in moderate portions, and keeping an active lifestyle.

From Dr. Abbey at InfantRisk- “Herbal products are not regulated by the FDA and there can be significant variations in the potency and purity between different products or even between different lots of the same product. Herbs can also interact with each other and with prescription medications, so we tend to advise not taking them at all. As a general rule, breastfeeding is a time for simplicity. Focus on eating a balanced, nutritious diet and minimizing your use of extraneous stuff”

If you are interested in adding herbs to your diet, consult a licensed/certified herbalist familiar with lactation so that you can get personalized, safe recommendations.

Exercise while Nursing

Always wait for the OK from your OBGYN or midwife to begin exercise after your baby is born. The current recommendation is not to exercise until after 6 weeks. It is a common myth that exercise will decrease the milk supply of a nursing mother. This is not true. To quote from Kellymom, “Research has shown that moderate exercise does not affect milk supply, milk composition, or baby’s growth​. Exercising to exhaustion may have a short-term effect on lactic acid and IgA content of a mother’s milk.”


You can find more info here:


Any product or lifestyle change that claims to detox your body should be carefully examined. More times than not, this is a marketing ploy buzzword used to sell
a product when there are no true “detoxing” ingredients in the food or drink. Most humans with working livers do not, in fact, store up “toxins” in their bodies that need to be cleansed or released; we would all have been dead far before the detox craze hit, if this were the case. “Detox Water” recipes, for instance, are often just fruit mixed with water. This is absolutely not dangerous, and the use of the word “detox” here is simply taking advantage of this current fad in the diet world in order to get more likes/pins/attention.

A product or change that TRULY encourages your body to release
toxins should absolutely NOT be used while breastfeeding. Anything that is released into your bloodstream (such as potential toxins) is also released into your breast milk and can be passed on to baby.



Meal Replacement Shakes & Bars, and Protein Powders

Meal replacement products are generally nutritionally inferior to healthy meals comprised of whole foods. Most contain artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, and genetically modified ingredients as well as other questionable ingredients. The ideal diet for any person, including breastfeeding mothers, would be comprised of natural, high nutrient, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, protein from animal and/or plant sources, whole grains or other complex carbohydrates, and healthy “good” fats. If you do choose to consume protein/meal replacement shakes or bars, note that these products should only be used as snack-style additions to your already healthy diet, and should never replace a healthy meal.

For more on the “ideal” diet for nursing moms, check out these links: and

Fat Burners & Pre-Workout

Most workout supplements contain branch chain amino acids, BCAA, and a fat burner or metabolism enhancer, all designed to speed up the recovery process or give you the “high” to get through a good workout. These additives may pass through breast milk and cause side-effects including weight loss in babies, and as it is not well studied, nursing mothers should avoid them for baby’s safety.


Artificial & Natural Low Calorie Sweeteners


Many popular diet products contain artificial sweeteners, and there are passionate feelings on both sides of the fence regarding the safety of these products. Artificial sweeteners are by no means part of a healthy, whole-foods diet, and should ideally be avoided for one’s general well-being. Here is what the current experts say about some popular sweeteners, regarding safety for use during lactation:

Nutrasweet (aspartame)
According to Hale (Medications and Mothers’ Milk, 2012), Nutrasweet (aspartame) levels in mother’s milk are too low to produce significant side effects in infants who do not have PKU (phenylketonuria). It IS contraindicated in babies with proven PKU. Hale lists aspartame in Lactation Risk Category L1 (safest), but L5 (contraindicated) if baby has PKU.

Splenda (sucralose)
According to Hale (Medications and Mothers’ Milk, 2012), there has been little research on sucralose in breastfeeding women. Per Hale, it is poorly absorbed from the GI tract and is excreted unchanged in the urine. The United States FDA considers sucralose to be safe for use in breastfeeding women. Hale lists sucralose in Lactation Risk Category L2 (safer).

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in some fruits and vegetables and is used as a sweetener in foods and medications. It’s not listed in Hale, but is unlikely to be a problem breastfeeding-wise.​ It’s commonly used in toothpaste, sugar-free chewing gum, etc.

Per Hale (Medications and Mothers’ Milk, 2012), milk levels of saccharin tend to accumulate over time, but still are considered minimal. Moderate intake should not be a problem for nursing mothers. Hale classifies it in Lactation Risk Category L3 (probably safe).

Stevia (​Stevia rebaudiana)
Stevia is a very sweet herb that is used by many as a zero-calorie sugar substitute. Rebaudioside A (purified from Stevia rebaudiana) is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) as a sweetening agent for foods by the US Food and Drug Administration, but no studies have been done on pregnant or breastfeeding women. Hale (Medications and Mothers’ Milk, 2012) recommends caution when it comes to using stevia while breastfeeding because many different herbs in the same genus are being used as natural sweeteners, and because there are no studies on the use of stevia in breastfeeding women. He classifies stevia in Lactation Risk Category L3 (probably safe).


Popular Diet Programs & Products

We do understand that some moms prefer to try diet programs, cleanses, or products to kick-start their weight loss journey. Some of these are safe for breastfeeding, and some are not. Here is a rundown of currently popular products, common ingredients, and programs, and their safety for use by nursing mothers. Please note that this list is far from exhaustive, and you should ALWAYS contact your doctor or IBCLC to discuss the possible risks and effects of a diet program on your health and the health of your baby.

Visit our file here for a table of popular workout supplements and programs.

Baby Wearing

Baby wearing can be a savior for some mommas. As we are not experts on the subject, this article is simply a list of resources to point you to people who are actually experts on the subject.


Babywearing International, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote baby wearing as a universally accepted practice, with benefits for both child and caregiver, through education and support.

Facebook groups dedicated to baby wearing:


DIY baby wearing groups, if you want to make your own:

Groups from which you can buy used carriers:

Great tutorials on baby wearing:

To find a group near you, you can search Facebook with your city and “baby wearing” or check: