Below is my reply to Mary:
Good day to you. It's always delightful to know more and more people are interested in traditional medicine. And that people realize again how important breastfeeding is.
An invalid idea: "Breastfeeding mothers taking Chinese herbs will cause babies to have jaundice" is an invalid statement or idea.
Physiological or pathological? First of all, many people are messed up with physiological jaundice and pathological jaundice. A physiological one is a normal one which usually begins from day 2 to day 3 and will disappear by itself in one or two weeks. As a matter of fact, physiological jaundice can take place anytime within one or two months. Some simple traditional remedies are sunbathing babies in the early morning, taking mild sugar solution, or phototherapy. A pathological one, of course, is more complicated and needs to deal with depending on the type of pathological changes: viral hepatitis, maternal-fetal blood type incompatibility, other infections or a thyroid problem.
The traditional explanations of having physiological jaundice are:
Possibility 1) Late bowel motion of newborns. For this type, early or more frequent feedings of breast milk to help infants pass the bilirubin in their stools may be recommended.
Possibility 2) Late or lack of breastfeeding by mothers. This jaundice occurs when the baby is not getting enough breast milk, either because of difficulty of breastfeeding or the mother's milk isn't enough yet. For this type, there's nothing wrong with the breast milk itself, it's simply because the baby has not enough to drink.
Possibility 3) Certain substances in milk. In 1% to 2% of babies, their jaundice could be caused by substances in the mother's breast milk. Some substances cause bilirubin to rise. This type usually begins from the first 3 to 5 days, and conditions improve over 1 to 3 months. If it's highly suspect case of such, and the bilirubin level rises toward the need of exchange transfusion, a mother can temporarily stop breastfeeding for 2 days, and resume after the jaundice subsides.
Boosting milk supply: There are certain Chinese herbs that boost a breastfeeding mother's supply of milk and thus allow young mothers who otherwise aren't able to breastfeed to do so. And if jaundice occurs after such cases should we blame it on late breastfeeding or consumption of Chinese herbs? Bear in mind that the newborn was late or not getting good supply of mother's milk at all initially. Could the physiological jaundice have taken place because of late or the lack of breastfeeding? Or the late bowel motion due to late or lack of breastfeeding (Breastfeeding helps first bowel motion)? Or more conveniently, some people will just blame it on the Chinese herbs.
Taking care of postnatal women: There are many postnatal illness or symptoms which have been treated with Chinese herbs. For these highly individual cases, the mother's body type or syndrome must be determined properly through face-to-face consultation before an appropriate therapeutic principle can be drawn on and thus the herbal formula prescribed. Herbs common for postnatal women usually possess the effects of nourishing yin fluid, promoting blood growth and circulation. They tend to strengthen the body constituent, encourage uterus contraction and prevent postnatal infections.
Traditional preparations: Some herbs do get into the breast milk, making milk yellowish in colour, and a few have milk withdrawal effects. Fortunately for us, or as in the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine, these herbs aren't in the traditional preparation for wellbeings of postnatal women.
Traditional herbal formula for postnatal women's wellbeing are very safe. Many have been used for hundreds of years if not thousands. This is the reason these proven formulas are made into over-the-counters for the ease of availability. For treatments of more specific postnatal illnesses or symptoms, please consult TCM physicians for proper individual prescription.
I hope the info helps. And your effort in helping new moms to breastfeed and live a natural lifestyle is admirable. Keep it up please.
Do let me know if you have any other questions.