128. Melatonin In Breastmilk: Should I Label A.M. and P.M. Breastmilk After I Pump?
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Welcome to the Breezy Babies podcast, where we talk about all things boobs, babies, and breastfeeding. This is episode 128 melatonin in Breast Milk. I'm Brei the IBCLC, and I made Breezy Babies with you in mind to help ease your transition into parenthood. Becoming a parent changes your life and every way imaginable. Bumps in the road are going to come up as you move into your new role, but my goal is to help smooth out those bumps and help you become the most confident parent you can be. With good education and support, I know you can meet your breastfeeding and parenting goals. Let's do this together. Hello, hello. Welcome back for another week of the Breezy Babies podcast. I'm so glad you're here. I'm so happy to talk with you. I wish that you could talk back. I wish that we could have a conversation, but unfortunately, you just have to listen to me speak today. I do not have a guest today. It is just me tackling one of your big questions. I have had this topic on my list of podcast episodes for quite some time. And it's not that I didn't want to talk about it. It was kind of just one of those things where I generally just give a quick short answer. And I knew if I were going to do a podcast episode on it, it would be something that I need to dig a little deeper into and actually provide you with some real studies to back up what my quick answer would be. But basically today what we're talking about is melatonin and breast milk. I'm going to break it down. I'm going to tell you exactly what this means, but the short question is that people ask is, should I label my Am breast milk and my PM breast milk? Should I separate them out? I'm going to give you my answer today. And more importantly, I'm not going to just give you my answer. I'm going to present some studies to you today, some studies that have been done on this topic with as much detail as I can find. As always, listen, the studies that have been done on breast milk are severely lacking, and the reason for that is because there's no money in breast milk. There's actually been way more studies done on cows lactating because there's money in that because people sell cow's milk. So the studies on breast milk are really lacking. But, you know, I'm going to share with you today what I've been able to find, but before I do that, I want to read a review for you. This review is actually from Brian, not me, but spelled the exact same way. This is a Google review that was left for Breezy Babies. This is what she said. Pleasantly surprised. After so many lactation consultations, I finally heard some new ideas on how to help my milk supply. I love that review. Short, sweet, to the point. Did you know that if you leave a review for a small business, it doesn't have to be paragraphs and paragraphs. It can be something short like that, just some sort of description with a five star. Well, I mean, five star is helpful for a company, but you're honest review means so much to a small business. So Brienne, if you're listening to this, send me an email. Brief breeze, babies. I will send you one of my digital downloads. Totally free. Thank you for trusting in us on your Lactation journey. And listen, if you are listening to this podcast episode, you might get free consultations through your insurance. Not a guarantee. I wish that everyone had free consultations through their insurance. Unfortunately, it's just a handful of insurances at this point. Especially if you have Cigna, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, you have a high likelihood of having free consultations. More are coming. Hopefully lots more that are covered are coming. But if you want to check for free consultations, you can always click the link in the show notes for this podcast that you're listening to. Or you can always go to Breezybabies.com. I have the link all over my website under Telehealth in person. All the places you can check with our biller, who is Lactation network. They check with your insurance. And if you get a yes, then you are covered for six free consults. No deductible, no copay, no nothing. Totally free consultations for you. So it doesn't do any harm just to check for those. Okay, one quick little side note for you, something that's been bouncing around in my brain for a while, and I just want to share this little pro tip for you, and that is that you can shop around for a provider. Did you know this? You can even tour hospitals. Before you choose a hospital to deliver at, you can tour birth centers to see if that's a good fit for you. You, of course, want to consider where your insurance covers, but once you find a facility that you love, you can even shop around for your health care provider. You can fire your healthcare provider. You can even fire your nurse in the hospital. Did you know that? If there is a provider who is not taking good care of you, you can request somebody else. You can find someone that does work well with you. And even I myself know that I am not the only IBCLC for everyone. Some connect with me and others connect with different IBCLCs. And that's totally fine. Where I live, there is a dentist's office on literally every corner. There are endless options when it comes to choosing a dentist. So what do you do? You check to see if your insurance covers and then you go with one. And if you're like this isn't a good fit, then you can leave and you can go find someone else at any time. That even applies if you're pregnant, even if you're 37 weeks pregnant. Let's say, for example, you can still switch providers. It's never too late. Let's say that your healthcare provider has indicated that they're in favor of you trying for a V back, which is a vaginal birth after having a Csection. But now, all of a sudden, at 37 weeks, they're pressuring you into an induction or a scheduled C section or just something that you don't feel comfortable with. You can always find a new provider who is willing to take you on. You are not married to any one provider. You are in the driver's seat, and this is your experience. You do not have to be at the mercy of your doctor or your midwife or your nurse. So there you go. A little pro tip for you. Now, I do want to tell you before we get started on today's topic of melatonin and breast milk, that today's podcast episode is brought to you by one of my favorite companies in the Lactation Space series. Chill. Series is a three in one breast milk chiller that makes pumping, storing, and feeding a breeze. If you've ever had to pump your milk while at work or in the middle of the night or while you're away from your baby, you know the frustration of juggling storage bags and frequent trips to the fridge or freezer. Series is a sleek storage system that stores all your milk in one place. It keeps your milk cold for up to 20 hours without any bulky ice packs or Insulated cooler bags. You have to go check out the series website just to see how beautiful and durable the double walled stainless steel is. The Chiller can hold up to 34oz at one time. It's dishwasher safe, TSA approved. It's even compatible with all major breast pumps, so you can pump directly into the chamber. All my pumping friends agree it's truly a game changer if you pump and store breast milk on the go. And I have a discount code for you, use code breezy 15, breezy 15 for 15% firstname.lastname@example.org. Or click the link in the show notes. All right. Melatonin in breast milk. If you pump, store, catch milk in any way, you may have had this question before, or maybe you haven't thought of this until this podcast episode, but you may have thought before, hey, do I need to separate out my morning milk that I catch from my night milk? If you feed directly at the breast, then maybe you never even had this question before, but now you're just curious. Is there actually a need for this? Is there a difference? Well, let's start with this. When it comes to sleep, it's not just about melatonin. There are others that are also in breast milk things such as cortisol, tryptophan, leptin, even others. We tend to just focus on melatonin and just know that there are some others at play. But for the bulk of this podcast episode, we are going to be focusing on melatonin. So let's really zoom in and talk about melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone produced by the pineal gland that plays a role in regulating sleep and circadian rhythm as well as a possible role in gut brain signaling. Now, that sentence that I just read to you is from a study called Melatonin Drugs and Lactation database. I will have it linked in the show notes if you want to go look at the entire study. But basically what they talk about is how melatonin is naturally just a normal part of breast milk and it has higher concentrations during nighttime. Now it specifically says that it peaks around 03:00 a.m.. So there's more melatonin in night time breast milk peaking around 03:00 A.m. Than daytime. Now, in the study they do suggest that it could be helpful to nurse in the dark at night so that melatonin levels stay high instead of dipping down. So maybe that means not looking at a bright screen in the middle of the night while your nurse but I'm not judging one way or the other. I've been there with night time feeds before. They do go on to say that some studies have attributed longer sleep time in breastfed infants than in formula fed infants due to melatonin in breast milk. Okay, so we know that melatonin is there, we know that it helps with sleep, that it helps with circadian rhythms, it even helps with gut brain signaling. So this is something that is really important. Now, I do know that this podcast is really focused on sleep, but guess what? I found in my studies that melatonin does more than just promote sleep, it also has an effect on the heart. So this was a really cool study. I'll link all of these studies in the show notes. By the way. I think I have three total that I've pulled from in the second study. They say breastfeeding protects against adverse cardiovascular outcomes in the long term. So it's basically saying that it helps protect the heart. It says that melatonin is an active molecule that is present in the breast milk produced at night, beginning in the first stages of lactation. It talks about how it seems to be a relevant contributor to the benefits of breast milk because it can affect infant health in several ways. They go on to say that melatonin concentration in breast milk varies in a circadian pattern, making breast milk a chronainutrient. The consumption of melatonin can induce the first circadian stimulation in your baby's body at an age when his or her own circadian machinery is not yet functioning. So basically what this is saying is that when you breastfeed your baby, when they are taking in that melatonin from breast milk that is helping to set their circadian, their own circadian rhythm that isn't quite functioning as a newborn. Have you ever noticed that with a newborn they don't quite understand yet the proper time to sleep, the proper time to be awake, that we sleep when the sun goes down and we wake up when the sun comes up. They don't quite understand that yet. So this is one cool way that we can kind of help them through. Some other cool things about melatonin that they talk about in this study is that it's a powerful antioxidant. It helps regulate inflammation. It shapes your baby's gut microbiota. It makes it more rich and have more variation, which is good. We like lots of variation when it comes to gut. And it also talks about how melatonin from breast milk influences weight gain in infants. It limits the development of obesity and poor morbidity in the long term. And it also helps shape the ideal cellular environment for the development of your baby's cardiovascular system. The study that I'm quoting from right now, by the way, is called Melatonin and Early Nutrition. So they want to talk about how melatonin really peaks towards the end of pregnancy, around 32 weeks of gestation, which is late in your third trimester, as you're getting close to deliver your baby. And then after your baby is born, that loss of melatonin that they're getting from you is compensated by the presence of melatonin in your breast milk. Okay, so your baby was getting high levels of melatonin while they were inside your belly, still hooked up through the umbilical cord. And then after being born, breast milk kind of helps to bridge that gap so that your baby is still receiving melatonin even after being born. So again, your breast milk does contain melatonin. It helps to set your baby's circadian rhythms. It has low levels of melatonin during the day and higher levels at night. They talk about, in this study how your baby's melatonin production isn't quite set until about three months after birth and then continues to develop over the first six months of life. So in the study, they really talk about the importance of melatonin being taken in by your baby through breast milk and how important that can be. Because, again, during these first few months of life, your baby is just learning how to set their own Circadium rhythm, how to get that started. And your baby receiving melatonin from you through your breast milk is what really helps to get that off to the best start. In this study, they also look closely at babies who were born prematurely, who were born before 37 weeks. And they talk about how this population, this group of babies who are born early, there at a particularly high risk of cardiovascular disorders. So they talk about how extra important it is for babies born prematurely to receive breast milk for one reason being that they get that melatonin from their mother. Now, these babies who were born prematurely, they didn't get that last part of pregnancy where melatonin levels were the highest while they were still inside mom's belly. So premature babies. They really have a delay in that expression of melatonin as compared to fullterm babies. However, this is something really cool they found in this study, the milk of mothers of preterm babies showed melatonin variations with a greater amplitude and higher concentration at the peak, suggesting that breast milk can be a tool for providing the melatonin that the child could not receive because of a preterm birth. Isn't that so cool? So these mothers bodies knew how to respond to these babies that were born prematurely and were able to give more melatonin through their breast milk as compared to a mother who delivered a full term baby. In this study, they also go on to explain that melatonin passes through the baby's digestive tract, it interacts with the microbiota, and it's absorbed by the intestines. Then melatonin diffuses into the fluids of the newborn. So the way that they test for the presence of melatonin is looking at the urine of babies, and they found that it is present in breastfed babies, but not present in formula fed babies. So, without going too deep, yes, melatonin synchronizes circadian rhythms. Yes, melatonin is known to be a powerful antioxidant that is involved in regulating inflammation. And it's even more important and even has a greater role in babies that are born prematurely. Okay, let's move on to the next study that I want to present to you, and then I'll get into my top three tips. This study is called Melatonin Stability in Human Milk because I know you might have a question that, as you're listening to me, you might be thinking, okay, great. Melatonin is low during the day and high during the night. But what if I take my breast milk and I store it in the freezer for six months, and then I take it out and I feed it to my baby? Will those melatonin levels still be the same? Does it change with storage? Okay, let's talk about that. Let's break that down a little bit. So in this study, they again talked about how melatonin is secreted in breast milk. It's really important with developing circadian rhythms. Okay? But they also know that it's half life instability in real life conditions such as freezing and defrosting is a little bit unknown. So what they did in this study is they took breast milk samples from milk that was pumped at night and milk that was pumped during the day. They collected it from 13 healthy breastfeeding mothers, is what they say, and their breast milk was immediately frozen. Then they took those samples, they defrosted them at room temperature, and they were sampled for melatonin immediately and every hour for 4 hours, and then again at 24 hours after defrosting. So they talk about how they tested the melatonin levels with a saliva Elisa kit, which is something that I would know nothing about. But basically what they found is there was no statistical significant difference between the levels at different points. So again, they were testing it every hour for 4 hours and then again at 24 hours after defrosting. They didn't find a difference. They did, however, find that melatonin levels in the daytime milk were significantly lower than the nighttime levels. So their conclusion was melatonin is stable in human milk for at least 4 hours after defrosting and even up to 24 hours. Further research is needed because again, they're wondering what the difference between that nighttime and the daytime levels of melatonin could be. So I feel like they always end with more research is needed, which is so true. But again, this helps give us a little bit more information that melatonin has really not changed when it comes to freezing defrosting breast milk. Okay, now you know a little bit of backstory with these different studies that I've presented to you so you can take what you wish from those studies. Of course, I always tell you that this podcast is not medical advice. I just present facts to you, give some top tips, and you are the one who has to decide if these are right for your family and decide what you are going to take and incorporate into your life. I am going to share my top three tips with you now when it comes to melatonin and breast milk, tip number one is that any breast milk is better than no breast milk. Okay, what do I mean by that? I mean, first of all, do what works for you. If you want to do something like the pitcher method and mix all your morning milk and your night milk together, then do it, okay? If you don't know what the pitcher method is, moms who exclusively pump, sometimes they will just take all their milk that they pump throughout the day. They mix it into one big container and then they separate it out into bottles. So clearly they're taking their morning milk and their night milk. They're literally mixing it all together and feeding it to their baby. And it works great for them. It works just fine and they don't notice any problems. If you want to do that as well, then that is completely an option. If you personally don't feel good about mixing your morning and your nightmilk together, you can separate your breast milk into Am and PM milk. You can even label it as such. For example, all the milk you pump after 07:00 P.m. Goes into one jar and then after 07:00 A.m., you use a different jar. That's awesome. That's great. You can totally do that. Either option is better than just saying, oh, this is too complicated. I'm just going to give formula instead. Sure, you can give formula, but I just don't want this to sound so complicated with separating out your morning and your nightmare that you're like, oh, just forget it. I'm not going to give any at all. Again, any breast milk is better than no breast milk. Tip number two is think about your sleep hygiene. So what I mean by this is you might want to consider turning off the lights at night. Don't sleep with your TV on. Reduce your screens at night, especially right before falling asleep. And if you still want to be on a screen, maybe you just turn down the brightness on your screen so that it's not quite so bright. If your baby wakes up to eat in the night, maybe don't get on your phone if possible. That brightness can disrupt your ability to fall back asleep. On the other hand, if that's your one joy in life and your best online purchases are made in the middle of the night, then you do you. And again, maybe just think about turning down the brightness on your screen. Tip number three is don't let anyone convince you to treat your breast milk like it's so fragile. We learned that it can be stored. That's something that we learned today, and we also learned that it can be mixed. We learned a lot from these different studies and what they were presenting to us about melatonin. Overall, I've found that breast milk is pretty hardy stuff. It has so much good stuff in it that benefits your baby, including melatonin, just like we learned about today. So just give it to your baby. We don't need to treat breast milk like it's the most fragile stuff in the world, because sometimes when we do that to the extreme, it just makes it so difficult for families who do need to express their milk and store their milk and give a bottle. And that's not helpful when we make it so tricky that it's putting up this huge barrier for families. So whether you pump or breastfeed or you're somewhere in between, you're doing just great. Again, any breast milk for your baby is better than none at all. That was tip number one. Tip number two was think about your sleep hygiene. And tip number three was don't let anyone convince you to treat your breast milk like it's so fragile. I hope you learned a little bit more today about melatonin and breast milk. I hope I got your wheels turning a little bit. As always, there's no one sizefits all there are some families who will mix their Am and their PM milk together into one, and there's others who prefer to separate it out. And either way, it's just right and just perfect for you and your family. I will link all of these studies in the show notes if you would like to go through and read these studies in full for yourself. And I hope that you have a great week. Listen, you are doing awesome. I hope you back next week to learn more. A new podcast episode drops every Tuesday. Of course I'm going to leave you with you are strong, you are smart, you are beautiful, you're a good friend to all. Have a good one. Bye.