Lactation Lab was born out of my own personal experience.
Breastfeeding was difficult for me -- incredibly painful, time consuming and exhausting. To make matters worse, because I'd been conditioned to think I should be enjoying it, I felt shame and guilt. My expectations were that breastfeeding should be this easy, natural bonding experience with my newborn. But instead it felt overwhelming and my breastfeeding struggles made me feel like a failure -- or worse, a bad mom.
When my second child was born, I resolved to breastfeed exclusively - I thought if I just tried harder, it all would be easier. However, my daughter was diagnosed as “failure to thrive”, meaning that she was not getting enough nutrients to grow. As a doctor, I was always told breast was best, but it didn’t seem to be working for me. If I breastfed her, she wouldn’t have a bowel movement for days, but the second I fed her formula she would feel better. Despite my effort and dedication to breastfeeding, the situation felt totally out of my control and I didn't know what to do or who to turn to.
As a physician at UCLA -- with a practice largely consisting of new mothers and babies -- I looked everywhere for answers. While the Internet was full of well intentioned (but often contradictory) advice, I was surprised to find that there were essentially no evidence-based resources available. I thought, “of all the lab tests I can order, why is there no way of knowing what is in my own milk?”
I started digging into the scientific journals and found that there was evidence based research into the science of breast milk. An abundance of studies showed diet modification had a positive impact on breast milk quality and infant health outcomes. I decided that now was the time to do something to empower moms with the kind of information I so needed during my own breastfeeding journey.
In early 2017, I began testing breastfeeding patients in my practice and guiding their diets according to the research to help improve their milk quality. My goal was provide individualized feedback to these moms and remove the guesswork from the breastfeeding process. I worked with hundreds of patients in my practice and saw how their perspective on breastfeeding shifted from a feeling of being overwhelmed to one of empowerment. The progress my patients were making was so encouraging that I resolved to make this type of support available for as many families as I could.
I founded Lactation Lab with the mission to provide parents with scientific and evidence-based insights, resources, and guidance. In a sea of misinformation, we want to provide concrete data and actionable advice. We take a "less is more" approach and typically find that a little fine-tuning goes a long way. Often it's as simple as eating more greens, adding Vitamin C, or reducing rice intake to minimize exposure to arsenic. It’s so gratifying to see a mother’s fears and frustrations with breastfeeding transform into reassurance and confidence.
I believe that every mom deserves access to information on how basic lifestyle changes can improve the quality of her breast milk and optimize her child’s health and nutrition. This possibility is at our fingertips. We have helped over 3000 moms improve the quality of their milk and give them the peace of mind and support they need to navigate their own breastfeeding journey.
Whatever your views or preferences are for breastfeeding, we hope to support you in making the choices that are best for you and your family. With all the uncertainties there are during motherhood, we strive to eliminate the guesswork for this one.
Dr. Stephanie Canale