Breastfeeding Aversion and Agitation (Aversion)
Research into supplements
There are no clinical trials on the effectiveness of using supplements for Aversion / BAA, as there are no studies looking at aversion in general. So, we have to rely on a lot of anecdotal evidence of mothers using supplements to lessen their experiences of aversion in order to continue breastfeeding. There are also many published research studies on the use of supplements in healthcare to know enough about how they work, and how they affect the human body. Trying magnesium supplements was first suggested by the original founder of a Nursing Aversion Support Group, Mel Morns, a public health nutritionist, and has since helped hundreds if not thousands of women. She suggests the best form of magnesium to use is chelated magnesium as oxide and citrate are not the best forms for the nervous system.
As one of the most often cited supplements by mothers is magnesium, in varying compounds (magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide etc), and in varying doses and many mothers with aversion tell me they have started to take, I thought it best to start with writing an article on this one.
I'm a biochemist from my university days, and thinking back I can remember that in the energy making 'Krebs' cycle, in which there are 8 steps, 6 of them need magnesium. Just take the example of this is 'glycolysis', and the energy-making process needed to make 'C3', seen here on the left in the diagram below. This requires magnesium so that the product (citrate C3) can be fed into the krebs cycle, that can be seen in full on the right:
Magnesium helps make insulin, it helps to metabolise fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Magnesium is actually necessary for over 300 different biochemical processing systems in our body, and one of the main ones is the energy making system for 'ATP' from glucose, i.e energy for your body. See here for diagrammatic information about how magnesium is involved in this process. If, as a mother, you are sleep deprived due to your nursling who is attached to your breast all night, or run down and not eating well due to the requirements of being a mother, it may make sense that energy levels are depleted and help is needed to restore them.
Magnesium supplements have been clinically recommended for treatment with those who suffer migraines, eclampsia and dyspepsia to name a few, so it is not too far a stretch to consider that it may help in other conditions. They have been shown to improve subjective measures of sleep in insomnia patients like sleep time and sleep efficiency so it may also be worth trying to increase your magnesium levels if you do suffer from very little sleep, as aversion can manifest very strongly when in a tired state, and during night-time feeds.
While mothers who suffer from aversion may not be said to exhibit early signs of an actual magnesium deficiency, which can include nausea & vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, and weakness, decreased levels have well-known symptoms of tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, personality changes, and abnormal heart rhythms. Some of which are descriptive of women's experience of aversion, especially sensations on the skin (tingling/itchiness/tugging/sensitivity) and personality changes (namely anger and agitation).
Now, it is possible to eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods (and that should always be your first port of call), but there is an argument that with both levels of magnesium found in foods depleting due to agricultural methods, and that the effect of Zinc on absorption of magnesium, it may be some people need to supplement.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium for women 310 milligrammes a day, and here are a list of magnesium rich foods to start taking (DV = Daily Value) ;
Cooked Spinach — 1 cup: 157 milligrams (40% DV)
Salmon — 1 portion: 154 milligrams (38% DV)
Pumpkin seeds — 1/8 cup: 92 milligrams (23% DV)
Coriander - 1 Tablesp: 14 milligrams (3% DV)
(Cows) Yoghurt — 1 cup: 50 milligrams (13% DV)
Almonds — 1 ounce: 80 milligrams (20% DV)
Cashews - 1/2 cup: 250 milligrams (63%)
Black Beans — ½ cup: 60 milligrams (15% DV)
Avocado — 1 medium: 58 milligrams (15% DV)
Figs — ½ cup: 50 milligrams (13% DV)
Dark Chocolate — 1 square: 95 milligrams (24% DV)
Artichoke - 1 cup : 71 milligrams (18%)
Banana — 1 medium: 32 milligrams (8% DV)
Baked beans - 1 cup : 68 milligrams (17% DV)
So, you can see you have to eat at least a few things from that list every single day, to get what your RDA is as women. The list is not exhaustive but a start, if you want to see whether changing your diet has an effect on the experience of aversion. In addition, ask your doctor to test your magnesium levels, and see if you need a prescription for magnesium supplementation. Failing that, buying supplements yourself is what many mothers do.
So, should you try it? In short, yes. However, it doesn't work for everyone, so have an open mind so as you are not disappointed. Either way, eating better, with magnesium rich foods will do no-one any harm.
Salads and Greens and lots of fresh things
*Update*: It appears using magnesium oil, and bathing with Epsom salts actually works better with absorption and having tried this myself, it appears to be working for me - but I do not know if this is a placebo effect. As it won't harm trying, I would definitely recommend trying it straightway to lessen your aversion.