Can You Detox While Nursing?

Pregnant woman in field

Let me start off by saying that I understand this is a controversial topic. Different schools of thought exist around this area of education and health. And I am not a medical doctor, nor do I give medical advice. Many woman choose to be extra cautious while breastfeeding, and rightly so. They want what is best for their babies and themselves. That is something we can all agree on.

But I have a confession to make.

I have detoxed while nursing. Many times.

In fact, I did monthly 3-day juice cleanses, a candida cleanse, a parasite cleanse, and even a one day water fast all while breastfeeding. And yes, I would do it all again.

The thing to keep in mind here is that our bodies detox every single day, whether we embark on a planned out detox protocol or not. Toxins bombard our bodies that we need to process every single day. My options were to just continue letting toxins build up because my body wasn’t cleansing fast enough or to take matters into my own hands and intentionally detox. We all have that option. The only caveat was that I was breastfeeding at the time, and neither of us were ready to end that journey together.

So I cautiously moved forward. This was definitely not a spur of the moment thing. I educated myself and made a plan. I had even reached out the director of the herbalism school I received my certification through and discussed the plan with him to make sure that I had dotted all of my i’s and crossed all of my t’s. I gathered all of the herbal support I needed together to make the detox process as smooth as possible.

Preparation was key. I knew how to formulate an effective and safe detox protocol. I knew what kind of reactions were possible. Not only did I pay close attention to my own reactions, but I also paid attention to any reactions in my child. Starting off slowly, I knew how to listen to my body and determine if I needed to slow down even more or stop entirely. I used my training, and both my child and I were safe the entire time.

My understanding of herbalism…

You see, in my herbal philosophy, I understand that herbs affect both children and adults. I also understand that nursing mothers can and do pass along those herbal compounds to their nursing children. That is a good thing. When young babies are experiencing concerns and their parents are looking for ways to support their child’s health naturally, herbal remedies are often suggested to the breastfeeding mother as a simple way to get those compounds to the child in a safe way, especially since it is not recommended to give any foods (other than breastmilk or formula) to babies less than 6 months old. Dosing the mother is the easiest way to dose the baby.

So when it comes to detoxing, yes, the nursing child is likely to experience changes from the mother going through planned out protocols. Are they exposed to the toxins the mother is detoxing? Maybe. In most cases the child is likely suffering from the same ailments as the mother anyways. Children grow inside of mom and are exposed to much of the same environmental and diet toxins as mom. It only makes sense that they would have many of the same toxic loads. Do they absorb the herbal compounds the mother takes? Absolutely. No matter how the child got exposed to the toxins, the same herbs that help mama can help the child heal as well.

Now for the fine print.

I do not suggest heavy metal detoxes while nursing. Most heavy metal toxicities are stagnant, being stored away in the body. A good heavy metal detox includes chelation to move the metals, which is not something the child would normally be exposed to via nursing. And no matter what type of detox you are looking at doing, please be sure it is a safe and effective detox protocol. Working with a health professional can be very important if you need help in this area. Many detoxes on the market are not safe and can cause further issues. It is your job to be educated. Know your plan and have support ready. Finally, pay very close attention to both your own responses and the child’s. Detoxing can be challenging all on its own. Nursing makes it even more so.

You might make others uncomfortable.

And yes, if you do choose to follow a detox protocol while nursing, you will likely get many people urging you not to or expressing their concerns for your child. While this can be frustrating, their concern likely stems from a place of wanting your child to be safe. So take a deep breath and try to remember that you really both want the same thing. With the right education and plan in place, you don’t have to compromise your own health though. You don’t have to forego detoxing just because you are nursing either. In fact, you just might find that both your baby and you discover better health thanks to your detox.

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