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I’ve chosen to breastfeed both my daughters and feel incredibly lucky (and proud) that I’ve been able to do so. But it definitely hasn’t been without challenges… including a bout of mastitis that I’m trying to block from memory. One of the strangest parts of breastfeeding is the lack of information about what’s actually in your milk. We know breast milk is generally nutrient-dense, full of antibodies, and easily digestible, but I’ve always wondered -- what exactly am I feeding my baby? And is there anything I can do to improve the nutrition of my milk? This is where Lactation Lab, the first company to take the guesswork out of breastfeeding, comes in.
Leading With Science
Lactation Lab was founded by Dr. Stephanie Canale, a mother who wanted to figure out why, despite getting enough milk, her daughter wasn’t gaining weight. She couldn’t figure out how to get her breast milk tested, so she made it her mission to find a science-based solution helping moms figure out the nutrient profile of their milk and how to optimize any deficiencies. And in turn, mom’s could feel more confident in their ability to feed and more likely to breastfeed for longer -- a win for everyone. She founded Lactation Lab, anchored in the latest academic research and most advanced lab technologies, along with a team of physicians, research scientists, and clinicians who look at individual breast milk samples taken over a 24-hour period. When I heard this, I knew I had to try it out for myself!
A Food Label For Your Milk
When you feed your baby formula, there is no question they’re getting the right mix of nutrients and an appropriate amount of calories -- it’s all right there on the nutrition label. For those who choose to breastfeed, however, there is no “standard”; every mom’s milk is different. With just a small sample, Lactation Lab analyzes your breast milk for 14 nutrients, including basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins. This is seriously cool, and I was stoked to understand the full nutritional makeup of my milk. I learned that my milk contains 20.7 calories per ounce, which is actually higher than the average infant formula (insert proud mom moment here…). Pretty cool, right?
The Perfect Trifecta: Fat, Protein, Carbs
In addition to calories, Lactation Lab’s Basic Breast Milk Test Kit ($99 for the kit and results) also breaks down the fat, protein, and carbohydrate content of your breast milk. My results showed high carbohydrates -- an indicator my baby is able to adequately absorb key nutrients and minerals. My milk’s fat content, however, was on the lower end of the average range, and knowing how important fat is for a baby's growth and neurodevelopment, I was keen to improve this number. Thankfully, Lactation Lab included a list of recommended dietary changes to increase fat content in milk, and I’ve already been able to make a few changes. Last but not least, protein -- the building block of the body and a necessity for energy. My metric was average on this one too, so I’ve been using their recommendations to boost this number and saw slight improvements when I re-tested my milk a month later.
Vitamins, Minerals & Toxins, Oh My!
Honestly, this was the coolest part. I’m what you might call a “vitamin junkie” and am sort of obsessed with making sure I’m getting the right amounts of the right nutrients. Of course I want the same for my baby! It was SO cool to see an exact breakdown of my milk’s entire nutrition profile, including metrics for calcium, iron, DHA, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B12, and heavy metals like arsenic and lead. Turns out I have great B12 levels (which is super rare!) and my mercury levels are low (*immediately orders a spicy tuna roll*), but I did discover that there is a small trace of arsenic in my milk. Of course I immediately freaked out, but the team wrote me a sweet note sharing that it’s actually pretty common and most often linked to rice consumption. They shared a few suggestions and reassured me that the level is still significantly below what the Environmental Protection Agency allows for in our water. So basically, it’s fine, but I’m so grateful to have the information and start making dietary changes.
Empowering Women To Make Smart Choices
One of the things I love most about Lactation Lab is that every test result includes a personalized email from Stephanie (the founder) to help you understand the results and what you can do to optimize your milk’s nutritional profile. She suggested a few different supplements I could take as well as a ton of recommendations for different foods that improve the quality of breast milk, and an explanation for why each nutrient is important (for example, did you know protein is responsible for 8-10% of a baby’s energy requirements, or that DHA is critical for brain, skin, and retinal development?). In this situation, knowledge is truly power, and Lactation Lab delivers.
At the end of the day, Lactation Lab gives moms the confidence and peace of mind they need to feel good about the quality of their milk and empowers them to breastfeed longer with more enjoyment. Check out the kits here and use code QUALITYEDIT for 10% off.
5 More Reasons To Love Lactation Lab
- There are three different options -- the Basic Kit (from $99), Standard Kit (from $199), and Premium Kit (from $349) -- based on budget and what you want to test.
- Once you’ve interpreted your results, the brand’s Amazon page has a list of suggested supplements, making it super easy to implement changes right away.
- Lactation Lab’s newest product, the Mastitis Test Strips, measures LDH enzyme in milk and helps you detect mastitis early (if you’ve ever had mastitis, you know this is critical).
- Lactation Lab was featured in Goop’s Guide to Breastfeeding...anything good enough for Gwenyth is good enough for me.
- Additional resources can be found on LL’s blog, The Drop, which breaks down all kinds of breastfeeding-related topics.