All Posts tagged Increase breastmilk production

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs to Increase Breastmilk Production – By Ilana Sowter

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

We all know that breastmilk is the single best food for an infant (Kramer & Katuma, 2002). Yet why do many of us struggle with producing enough, good-quality milk? The benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child are wonderful; breastfed children have better immunity, digestion and development (Oddy, 2001; Oddy, 2002). Breastfeeding is a highly emotive and well-debated topic, and there are many firm views on how and why, it must or must not be done (Reames, 1985). Research indicates that the largest decrease in breastfeeding occurs between two weeks and six weeks after birth (Binns & Scott, 2002; Stamp & Crowther, 1995). Insufficient Milk Supply (IMS) is the most common reason for a woman to stop breastfeeding.

Signs & Symptoms of Insufficient Milk Supply (IMS)

A woman experiencing IMS may present with:

  • Fatigue, exhaustion & weakness.
  • Little or no breastmilk several days after delivery, where the milk looks
  • thin and watery.
  • No breast distension or engorgement.
  • A pale complexion, dizziness, dryness and potentially insomnia.
  • A baby may that has not gained weight appropriately (Li, 1994).

According to Chinese Medicine theory, these signs and symptoms are likely to occur after delivery; this is when a woman loses qi (energy) and blood. This can result in her being too weak to produce a sufficient supply of breastmilk. If the mother’s qi is inadequate to support her own health and wellbeing, then there is little foundation to create a good breastmilk supply for her baby. Based on these principles, a Chinese Medicine Practitioner will encourage her pregnant patients to rest and eat well in the post-partum period (the first 6 weeks after birth). It is beneficial to the mother to have an acupuncture treatment as soon as she can after delivery and then at 6 to 8 weeks.

Causes of Insufficient Milk Supply

There are various reasons why IMS may occur, the woman may have:

  • Experienced a long and difficult birth, or a post-partum haemorrhage.
  • Suffered from a pre-existing constitutional weakness.
  • Delivered a multiple birth, or had previous miscarriage(s).
  • Undergone IVF treatment(s), or be an older mother.
  • Had pregnancies or breastfed children too close together for her body.

Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs Increase the Production of Breastmilk

For over a thousand years, folk law and anecdotal evidence suggests that Acupuncture increases mothers’ breastmilk supply. Acupuncture provides a sound effective therapy for IMS, and can make a valuable contribution to the promotion of breastfeeding (Li, 2004). Studies in the last two decades have established improvement in lactation after Acupuncture treatment (Huang et al, 1994; Turenea, 1994; Dong, 1988; Kang, 1990).

Insufficient Milk Supply is most effectively treated with dietary therapy, rest, Acupuncture and some Chinese Herbal medicine. The aim of our treatment is to nourish and rejuvenate the mother’s qi blood and body fluids so that she may successfully create more and better quality breastmilk (Yoneyama et al, 1994). She will also notice improved strength and wellbeing throughout this treatment. The rather famous, ancient Chinese Medicine gynaecologist, Fu Qing-Zhu (1607-1684AD) claimed that with correct treatment, women experiencing this disharmony would have their “breastmilk gushing like a spring, in no time” (Yang, 1996).


  • Binns, C. & Scott, J. (2002) Breastfeeding: Reasons for starting, reasons for stopping and problems along the way. Breastfeeding Review 10(2): 13-19.
  • Dong, Y. (1988) The (Breast)milk Deficiency Treated by Acupuncture, Journal of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 8(2): 10.
  • Huang, Y. & Huang, W. (1994). Report on 1643 Cases of Milk Deficiency Treated by Acupuncture and Cupping. Journal of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 10 (4): 22.
  • Huang, J., Xue, Y., Xia, J., & Xue, J., (1994) Evaluation of a health education programme in China to increase breastfeeding rates. Health Promotion International. (9): 95-98.
  • Kang, W. (1990). A Study on 98 Cases of Insufficient Milk Supply Treatment by of Acupuncture. Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion. 10(5): 24.
  • Kramer, M. & Katuma, R. (2004) The optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding: A systemic review. Adv Exp Med Biol. 554: 63-77.
  • Li, K. (2004) A Pilot Study to Evaluate the Effect of Acupuncture on Increasing Milk Supply of Lactating Mothers, Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne.
  • Oddy, W. (2002). The impact of breastmilk on infant and child health. Breastfeeding Review. 10(3).
  • Oddy, W. (2001). Breastfeeding protects against illness and infection in infants and children: a review of the evidence. Breastfeeding Review. 9(2).
  • Reames, E. (1985). Opinions of Physicians and Hospitals on Early Infant Feeding Practices. Journal, American Dietetic Association, 85(1): 79-80.
  • Stamp, G. & Crowther, C. (1995) Breastfeeding. Why start? Why stop? A prospective survey of South Australian women. Breastfeeding Review. 3(1): 15-19.
  • Tureanu, U. (1994). A clinical Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Insufficient Lactation. American Journal of Acupuncture, 22(1): 23-27.
  • Wu, Y. (2002). Needling Sp6 and K1 as main therapy to induce breastmilk – 46 cases report. Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion. 22 (5).
  • Yang, S. & Liu, D (1996) Fu QingZhu’s Gynecology. Boulder, CO, Blue Poppy Press: Boulder, p.130.
  • Yoneyama, K., Goto, I., Nagata, H. & Ikeda, J. (1994). Effects of maternal food intake on the total protein, fat, lactose and calcium concentrations in human milk. Nippon Koshu Eisei Zasshi. 41: 507–517.