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on July 19, 2014
I was disappointed by this book. I thought it would go in depth into which herbs to take/not take while breastfeeding, but this information is limited to an appendix. The rest of the book talks about breastfeeding, and most of the topics are covered very well by The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. If you're looking for information on galactogogue herbs, you're better off reading The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk. (And possibly Mother Food.)

However, if you take herbs and want to know if any are affecting your supply or if there's any you shouldn't take, it might be helpful.
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on June 5, 2004
The main focus of "The Nursing Mother's Herbal" is Breastfeeding. Herbal remedies are also included.
Sheila Humphrey has included just about everything you would want to know about this subject. She has also included information on specific herbal remedies for various situations.
If you are trying to decide between breastfeeding and feeding your baby "formula" you will want to read the benefits and risks section in chapter one. There is also information on donated milk and other fascinating facts.
This book is divided into 11 main sections:
The Health Benefits of Breastfeeding & Health Risks of Baby Formulas
Successful Breastfeeding - Everything from finding a lactation specialist to organizing your day.
How Milk is Made and Why This Matters
Herbs and Herbal Products
Healthcare Options - A discussion about Western and Conventional Medicine.
Postpartum Recovery - What to eat and what to expect after delivery.
Solutions for Regulating Your Milk Supply - herbal help
Breast Problems
Common Illnesses and Health Problems
Common Signs to look for when Your Child is Ill
Weaning and the Return to Fertility
The Nursing Mother's Herbal is one of the books I'd recommend to every woman who is considering becoming a mother or who is already pregnant. This book gives you a wealth of information and I think it is one of the most interesting books I've ever read on breastfeeding and postpartum issues.
Sheila also encourages you to find the support you need. She gives excellent advice on how to deal with every aspect of breastfeeding and also focuses on the most intricate details of every positive and negative situation that could occur. There are recipes for various "galactogogue teas" to encourage a good milk supply. By reading this book you can also find out interesting things about why you should not use aloe vera gel and why you might want to use tea rinses or poultices made from herbs for their skin healing properties.
Other features include:
An extensive list of organizations and websites
A Plant Safety Table (they also include information on herbs that will help or decrease milk production)
Detailed Information about Herbs like fennel, fenugreek, hops and milk thistle.
"The Nursing Mother's Herbal" is simply fascinating and I can highly recommend it to mothers who are preparing for breastfeeding or who are considering their options.
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on June 1, 2004
Taking prescription drugs or herbs while breastfeeding can be risky unless moms have good information about how it may affect her breastmilk and her baby.
Fortunately, books like Thomas Hale's Medications and Mothers Milk (2004 edition now available), and The Nursing Mother's Herbal by Sheila Humphrey can help nursing moms navigate pharmaceutical and natural remedies while breastfeeding. Moms who don't know anything about herbs as well as moms who have used them to treat common ailments will find The Nursing Mother's Herbal helpful.
Unlike the technical Hale book, which deals with prescription drugs (most La Leche League chapters own and can offer information from this book to share with your health care provider), The Nursing Mother's Herbal is an easy-to-read book about breastfeeding, herbs and dietary supplements.
The book's conversational style is backed up by serious, solid research. Humphrey, an IBCLC-certified lactation consultant, has studied botany at the college level. She is also an ob-gyn nurse and La Leche League leader. Her information sources for the book include her husband, a PhD botanist specializing in the study of medicinal plant pharmacology and ethnobotany; a long list of herb experts, including Andrew Weil; and breastfeeding experts, including Dr. Jack Newman and members of La Leche League.
For new moms, The Nursing Mother's Herbal devotes the first three chapters entirely to breastfeeding. It is an excellent explanation of all the factors that play into a positive nursing experience for moms and babies. Humphrey explains why breastmilk is the superior infant food, then she explores where to find breastfeeding information and support. Finally, she offers a peek into the amazing nursing mother-baby dyad.
For moms new to herbs, the following chapter is dedicated to explaining herbs and herbal medicines: What's a tincture? What is the difference between a decoction and a liquid extract? How do I know I am getting a quality herbal product?
Humphrey inserts many warnings throughout the initial chapter on herbs, including why it's important to make sure you have the right plant if gathering herbs from a garden or from the wild (some toxic plants look very similar to herbs), so this chapter is a critical read before moving onto the rest of the book. Many herbs interact with prescription drugs, so it is important to tell your health care provider about any herbs or nutritional supplements you take. Humphrey offers extra safety measures to apply when using herbs while breastfeeding, including: "When breastfeeding, it may be best to avoid those herbs that can cause side effects even in small doses; instead find herbs with a wider margin of safety."
Even so, she writes: "Despite all the concerns I've brought up here, please do not get the impression that herbs are dangerous. As a group, herbs are probably safer than most types of other medications."
The following chapters offer specific herbal remedies to various ailments or situations breastfeeding mothers may encounter, such as herbs related to weaning. Information-packed appendices at the end of the book provide further resources to explore as well as plant safety charts.
As with any book related to health, it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. However, The Nursing Mother's Herbal is a wonderful resource for moms to inform themselves about natural remedies and to gather information to share with their physicians about alternative treatments to common health problems. --Dana Anderson-Villamagna
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on April 5, 2004
Sheila Humphry is a registered ob-gyn nurse and La Leche League Leader. In writing The Nursing Mother's Herbal, she draws upon her many years of experience and expertise to provide a health-conscious guide concerning the effects of herbs, dietary supplements, and other natural products upon nursing women and their babies. A fact filled, superbly organized instructional and reference guide which presents reliable and comprehensive information in down-to-earth terms, The Nursing Mother's Herbal is very highly recommended reading for all breast-feeding mothers.
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on January 20, 2004
At long last, a comprehensive, easy-to-read reference book on the use of herbs during lactation! Sheila Humphrey's "The Nursing Mother's Herbal" provides breastfeeding mothers, health care professionals, and all who have contact with the breastfeeding couple (mother and baby) a valuable resource for information on the safety and efficacy of herbal preparations that can be used while breastfeeding. As a professional lactation consultant, I am enthusiastic about using her book and sharing it with interested mothers and other health care professionals.
A wide variety of herbs that can be used for post partum recovery, special breastfeeding situations, and even maternal and infant illnesses/conditions are all expertly and thoroughly covered. Ms. Humphrey's book is not merely a "cook book" herbal reference, it is also deeply enriched with evidence-based recommendations common to lactation consultant practice. For example, in Chapter 7, "Your Milk Supply," Sheila addresses one of the all too common reasons for untimely weaning from the breast, the fear of insufficient milk supply. Before discussing possible herbals that can help increase a mother's milk, she explains normal infant breastfeeding behaviors and the importance of optimal breast attachment (latching). Another feature of "The Nursing Mother's Herbal" is the sense of warmth and nurturing that is infused throughout and the mother-to-mother supportive tone which are positive factors in reaching new mothers with understanding and empowerment.
I was pleased to see references to other well known lactation experts, such as La Leche League and Dr. Jack Newman, as well as herbalists who specialize in lactation. Their inclusion speaks to Ms. Humphrey's thoroughness of research and broad knowledge base from which mothers and health care practitioners can make an informed decision. Her section on post partum recovery (Chapter 6), reflects her background as an OB/GYN nurse and increased my own knowledge base. Besides herbal remedies a concise but thorough explanation of complimentary specialists and treatments available as health care options will appeal to many mothers and enlighten mainstream, allopathic practitioners.
I found a wealth of information in the Plant Safety section (Appendix C) which deserves careful study, yet provides quick referencing regarding safety and efficacy of herbs during lactation and beyond. I highly recommend "The Nursing Mother's Herbal" to mothers, fathers and families of the breastfeeding baby, and especially to those in the lactation field. Midwives, nurses, obstetricians, pediatricians, pharmacists, naturopaths, homeopaths and herbalists, who may work with nursing mothers, should read this book.
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on December 15, 2003
Sheila Humphrey has writeen a book that incoroporates sound breastfeeding advice along with reliable herbal information. Breastfeeding mothers and their health care providers will find the Nursing Mother's Herbal to be easy to understand, reliable information. Humphrey is able to translate technical lactation management issues as well as botanical medicine into an easy to understand lay-woman's language. She speakss in a non-judgemental, objective approach to all traditions of health care management. Sheila successfully normalizes the Lactation Specialists role in the health care team. The Nursing Mother's Herbal provides excellent, sound breastfeeding information.
I found the Plant Safety section (Appendix C) at the back of the book to be an easy to use chart for practically every herb under the sun. The Plant Safety Appendix is an excellent resource for health care workers who need to know herbal safety for mother and baby. The table rates herbs according to their toxicity, interactions, contraindications and adverse effects. The Safety ratings range from "A" which is an herb that is relatively safe to "E" an herb that is highly toxic. The Plant Safety section is based upon evidenced based information obtained from scientifically sound resources.
The majority of the herbs and herbal products information clearly dispels common myths and misconceptions often associated with dietary and herbal supplement use for breastfeeding mothers. I have found Humphrey to be evidenced based in topics of plant safety, interactions, etc. Sections pertaining to suggested dosages fall back onto the time honored recipes that women and midwives have found to be effective over the millenia.
There is a nice section on choline, essential fatty acids, and food allergies. I would have liked more information on flax and lecithin and the health benefits they provide for breastfeeding mothers and infants. I found the directions to make herbal teas and infusions to be easy to understand and helpful for mothers. Humphrey also offers many practical holistic methods for breast milk production and breastfeeding management such as breast massage, breast compression and diet.
I found myself wishing there were more BOLDED sections for easier to find topics, herbs, etc. for easier referencing.
As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant I encounter mothers on a daily basis who struggle with low milk supply and other breastfeeding problems such as sore nipples, thrush and mastitis. Many women seek home remedies that have been passed on from generation to generation. I find this book will help the lactation consultant and other health care professionals to obtain sound herbal information.
I think it will prove to be a "must read" book for all breastfeeding mothers and their health care providers who seek to know RELIABLE herbal information.
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