Benefits of Coconut Oil for Breastfeeding Mums


Living in Asia, coconut oil is nothing new to us. While it’s most commonly used in cooking, coconut oil can be used in many other ways to benefit babies and parents, including for breastfeeding mums.

Let’s take a look at some quick facts about this oil, as well as the ways it can be used to enhance the health and wellbeing of both mummy and baby.

coconut oil for breastfeeding

Photo by Tijana Drndarski from Pexels.

Facts About Coconut Oil

Over the years, various scientific opinions about coconut oil have been presented, some praising and others questioning its benefits. Here are some facts about coconut oil, adapted from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

  • Coconut oil has no fibre or cholesterol. It only contains traces of vitamins, minerals, and plant sterols.
  • Coconut oil is 100% fat and 80-90% of this is saturated fat. The predominant saturated fat it contains is lauric acid (47%). It also contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in very little amounts.
  • According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Many of the health claims for coconut oil refer to research that used a special formulation of coconut oil made of 100% medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), not the commercial coconut oil most available on supermarket shelves.”
  • Coconut oil is an effective moisturizer for skin and hair. 
  • “Studies found that those who ate higher amounts of coconut oil had increased beneficial HDL cholesterol levels but also increased total cholesterol and triglycerides.”

Now let’s take a look at some specific ways that coconut oil can be used for both mums’ and babies’ wellbeing.

Coconut Oil for Skin Care

Coconut oil mostly consists of rich, saturated fats2 which help retain the moisture content of the skin. This makes it an all-natural, delicious smelling moisturiser that soothes and nourishes, without the risk of irritating the skin.

For an alternative to harsh chemicals, virgin coconut oil (VCO) works wonderfully as a natural makeup remover. Simply dab some VCO on a cotton ball or makeup remover pad and gently wipe the makeup off. Remember to lightly rinse the facial area with water to remove any excess oil.

For full body skin care, apply VCO liberally to hands, feet, lips and cuticles whenever you feel dryness or want to add hydration. The oil is quickly absorbed and helps keep your skin as soft and smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Expectant mums can use coconut oil to help prevent and repair stretch marks.3 Coconut oil penetrates deeply into the skin to nourish and hydrate your expanding belly.

Coconut Oil for Hair Care

Aside from the skin benefits of coconut oil, it also provides nourishment to hair specially to help reduce protein loss.

One study4 examined the effects of coconut, sunflower, and mineral oil in protecting hair health. They looked at the amount of protein loss in hair after treatments involving each type of oil. Coconut oil emerged the winner at preventing protein loss when compared to the other two types of oil, when applied either before or after the hair was washed.

Coconut oil contains vitamins K and E5 which could help treat itchy scalp, dandruff and even make hair follicles stronger which could contribute to healthy hair.

To condition your hair, warm a small amount of coconut oil in the palms of your hands and apply to the ends of your hair. The vitamins and fatty acids in coconut oil can work as a detangler and help to hydrate the hair to reduce breakage and repair damage.

Coconut oil can also be used as a styling tool for your hair. By using a tiny amount, it could lessen frizziness and smooth out pesky fly-aways or stubborn baby hairs.

Coconut Oil for Baby Care

Coconut oil has natural properties to protect and heal the skin. It contains three fatty acids: Caprylic Acid, Capric Acid, and Lauric Acid.6 Research7,8,9 has shown that these acids have antifungal and antibacterial properties that could help reduce inflammation and infection in cuts and scrapes.

Make sure to pack some VCO in your diaper bag the next time you take a trip to the playground with your children for those inevitable boo-boos. Coconut oil can also help relieve eczema outbreaks on yourself or your child.10

Coconut Oil for Diaper Rash

As explained earlier, coconut oil contains antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that could help promote healing. It also contains lauric acid (also found in breast milk) that can be an effective treatment for bacterial and fungal problems. You could use VCO as a barrier to help treat and prevent diaper rash. Just wash and dry baby’s bottom, then apply a thin layer of VCO on the affected area. Let the oil dry before adding a new diaper.

Coconut Oil for Breastfeeding Mums

Coconut oil has a few uses for breastfeeding mums. VCO can be used while breastfeeding to soothe and help repair sore, cracked nipples. Simply apply a small amount of VCO directly to the nipple and let it dry. Because coconut oil is all natural there is no need to wipe off before nursing you baby.

In addition to using coconut oil on our bodies, coconut oil could also have health benefits when incorporated into your diet, as many Singaporean families already do. These include supporting a breastfeeding mother’s immunity which in turn, could benefit her little one. Research11 shows that the Lauric Acid and Monolaurin­­­—both known antimicrobial agents—present in coconut oil when ingested, help boost the immune system. And when a breastfeeding mum’s immunity is strong, it is likely that her baby’s will be, too.

Photo by Cleyder Duque from Pexels

Coconut oil has also been used for many years in Asian countries as a breastmilk booster or galactagogue. Research also shows that coconut milk when consumed can indeed increase the volume of milk produced by a lactating mum.12

Meanwhile, in countries where coconut oil is a staple in the diet, the levels of Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) in breastmilk are naturally higher.13 These rich fats in mother’s milk are vital for the continued growth and development of infants. The levels of MCFAs can be as low as three to four percent in breast milk, but when nursing mothers eat coconut products (shredded coconut, coconut milk, coconut oil, etc.) the levels of MCT in their breast milk increase significantly.

Eating 40 grams (about three tablespoons) of coconut oil in one meal can temporarily increase the lauric acid in the milk of a nursing mother from 3.9% to 9.6% after 14 hours. “This gives an important benefit,” says Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. an expert in lipid chemistry and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. “The milk has increased amounts of the protective antimicrobials lauric acid and capric acid, which gives even greater protection to the infant. If the mother consumes coconut oil every day while nursing, the medium-chain fatty acid content will be even greater.” 

UpSpring’s Milkflow range of breast milk boosters could also support breastfeeding mummies in producing a health supply of breast milk.

Milkflow Fenugreek + Blessed Thistle Capsules

Like coconut oil, Fenugreek has been used in many Asian countries for centuries as a breast milk booster. Now, Upspring brings you this herb in an easy-to-take capsule form in their Milkflow Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle Capsules. The herbs are naturally-sourced, non-GMO, and the capsules contain no added fillers.

This concentrated formula delivers the equivalent of 1,800 mg of Fenugreek in each serving. You only need to take one to three capsules daily to support a healthy breast milk supply.

To read more about this supplement and buy it, please click here

Milkflow Blessed Thistle Capsules

The Blessed Thistle in this supplement is concentrated at a 4:1 ratio, which means four parts of raw material are refined down to one part concentrate. The result is Milkflow Blessed Thistle capsules, with 1,000 mg of Blessed Thistle per serving plus a proprietary blend of four herbs that have been traditionally used to aid with digestion: ginger root, anise seed, orange peel and lemon balm leaf and stem. You only need to take between one to three capsules a day to support healthy breast milk production.

To learn more about this supplement and buy it, please click here.

Mums, remember with any breast milk booster, whether coconut oil or other supplements, you should always iron out any concerns you might have with your doctor.

 

 

References

  1. Coconut Oil. The Nutrition Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved on June 18, 2021 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/coconut-oil/
  2. Coconut Oil. The Nutrition Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved on June 18, 2021 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/coconut-oil/
  3. Coconut Oil for Stretch Marks. Healthline. Reviewed on April 18, 2018. Retrieved on June 20, 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/coconut-oil-for-stretch-marks#takeaway
  4. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. 2003. Journal of Cosmetic Science. Retrieved on June 21, 2021 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12715094/
  5. Coconut Oil. The Nutrition Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved on June 21, 2021 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/coconut-oil/
  6. Coconut oil and palm oil's role in nutrition, health and national development: A review. 2016. Ghana Medical Journal. Retrieved on June 21, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5044790/
  7. Caprylic Acid: Coconut Oil’s Secret. Healthline. Last reviewed on August 22, 2016. Retrieved on June 21, 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/caprylic-acid-coconut-oil#outlook
  8. Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of capric acid against Propionibacterium acnes: A comparative study with lauric acid. Journal of Dermatalogical Science. 2014. Retrieved on June 21, 2021 from https://www.essentialnutrition.com.br/media/artigos/mctlift/10.pdf
  9. Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of capric acid against Propionibacterium acnes: A comparative study with lauric acid. Journal of Dermatalogical Science. 2014. Retrieved on June 21, 2021 from https://www.essentialnutrition.com.br/media/artigos/mctlift/10.pdf
  10. Coconut Oil for Eczema: Does It Work? Healthline. Medically reviewed on November 20, 2017. Retrieved on June 21, 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/coconut-oil-for-eczema#takeaway
  11. Coconut Oil and Immunity: What do we really know about it so far? Journal of the Association of Physicians of India. Published on May 25, 2020. Retrieved on June 21, 2021 from https://japi.org/w2f4d4b4/coconut-oil-and-immunity-what-do-we-really-know-about-it-so-far
  12. Effect of taking virgin coconut oil to the breast milk secretion and inspection of medium chain fatty acids contain. International Journal of PharmTech Research. 2015. Retrieved on June 21, 2021 from https://www.cabdirect.org/globalhealth/abstract/20153130200
  13. Coconut Research Center publication. 2003. Retrieved on June 21, 2021 from https://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/articles-and-videos/coconut-information/coconut-oil-and-medium-chain-triglycerides/