Low breast milk production and bad health are related, according to research.
The common belief is that if you try hard enough, your body will be able to nurse. Poor metabolic health characteristics are associated with low levels of breast milk production, according to recent UC research. Journal of Breastfeeding Medicine published the study.
“We wanted to see if we could understand what stands out as different in these moms. So, we conducted a case control study to see why, despite their best efforts at doing everything right with breastfeeding, they were not making enough milk,” says Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, Ph.D., associate professor of nutrition, and the Ruth Rosevear Endowed Chair of Maternal and Child Nutrition in the UC College of Allied Health Sciences.
In a randomised controlled experiment from 2015 to 2016, women who had been screened for a poor milk supply participated, and Nommsen-Rivers and her team examined the data. Mothers having a healthy infant born at 37 weeks or later and who were at least 20 years old and one to eight weeks postpartum were also included. To gauge milk output, participants completed an at-home newborn test weighing. The following factors were looked at: blood pressure, plasma lipids, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and insulin sensitivity. In comparison to the control group, women with unexplained persistent low milk supply consistently performed significantly worse on all of those metrics.
According to Nommsen-Rivers, during the past ten years or so, extensive epidemiologic research have consistently demonstrated that women with a higher body mass index (BMI) breastfeed for a shorter period of time. This gave rise to numerous beliefs, such as lesser motivation or effort, but these theories have their roots in weight stigma. She says that despite overwhelming evidence linking a higher BMI to poorer metabolic health, this subject is understudied.
“This is the first study where we have validated their persistent low-milk supply,” Nommsen-Rivers says. “This is not just simply based on a woman thinking, ‘Oh, I didn’t have enough milk, that’s why I gave my baby formula.’ Our research results strongly point to there being a physiologic basis for their low-milk production. It wasn’t due to these women not trying hard enough.”
Nommsen-Rivers claims that this study brings researchers one step closer to developing clinical criteria for screening pregnant women in order to determine what the metabolic health picture looks like in women who successfully breastfeed exclusively as opposed to those who are unable to produce enough breast milk despite using best practises for managing breastfeeding. She claims that there has been a serious lack of research in this area. She says pursued a Ph.D. because she believed the research scientists relied on to manage breastfeeding was just too flimsy. She wanted to contribute to studies that would increase the body of research supporting better management of breastfeeding.