Disorders of Mother’s Milk - Nursing

Caraka, Sushruta and Vagbhata agree that there are three basic causes to modify or change mother’s milk and make it unwholesome for the baby. They are:

1. Nutritional factors –wrong diet, overeating, wrong food combinations, etc.
2. Physical factors – lack of exercise, trauma, over exertion, lack of sleep, etc.
3. Psychological factors – fear, anxiety, stress, anger, etc.

The above factors will cause the milk to become indigestible for the baby and cause pathologies such as colic, diarrhea, constipation, etc. The toxic milk will also be passed on with the Dosha that is vitiated or in a Vriddhi state. So the baby gets milk that is aggravated by a Dosha and the Dosha itself is also passed to the baby from the mother. This is why Ayurveda stresses that the environment of the mother and child is good, e.g., happy, loving and peaceful.

Mother’s milk is the best food if the mother eats correctly and is not in a physically or emotional traumatic situation. In these cases the classics recommend a wet nurse. The main point of this information is to understand that if the baby has colic pain and liquid or hard stools it is due to the mother’s situation and diet – it is not the baby.

The main issue here is that it takes at least twenty-four hours for the food to make Stanya or milk. This process can take easily take three days if the mother is mainly eating animal products such as fish, meat and dairy. Milk is the Upadhatu of Rasa Dhatu. The quickest possible time for Rasa to be made is twenty-four hours. But this does not mean that if you drink wine or something else it will not go quicker in the milk – especially to flavor it or change the smell. This should not be confused with nutrient transformation that is the result of Dhatu formation.

Therefore the difficulty for mothers is that they often cannot identify the food they eat that is disrupting the baby. That is due the one to three day delay between the food being eaten and the milk being produced as an Upadhatu. Review anatomy and physiology from Volume One of this series if this point is not clear.

The therapist needs to help the mother identify the problematic food and beverages in order to help reduce the Dosha Vriddhi in her body and that is modifying the milk and creating Dosha aggravations in the baby. If the mother has Vata Vriddhi the milk will take on the attributes of Vata and pass them to the baby and that will give the baby Vata Vriddhi symptoms as well. The same for Pitta and Kapha. So Vata will gas the baby, Pitta liquid stools and Kapha excess mucus and constipation. These are just examples, the Doshas ALWAYS follow their own attributes and always manifest them in the same ways.

Consequently the practitioner should always treat the mother (and father) and only if nothing works should they then treat the baby. This is the primary rule in pediatrics.

Copyright © 2016 Vaidya Atreya Smith

More information can be found in this textbook:
Application of Ayurvedic Treatments Throughout Life (Volume 5)

Diet and lifestyle with treatment protocols are in this textbook:

Clinical Protocols and Treatments in Ayurveda (Volume 3)