Updated: Nov 21, 2019
You can imagine, my Pinterest newsfeed is plastered with Lactation Smoothies, Baby Food ideas, Lose weight while Breastfeeding Tips and "Five Must Haves for Breastfeeding Moms" - type of posts. Yep, Pinterest's algorithm by now figured out that I'm somewhat obsessed with Breastfeeding Nutrition.
(Hey, everybody needs a passion in life, right?!)
I love pinterest, don't get me wrong. It has given so many people, including myself, a platform to inspire each other, open our minds to new ideas and share wisdom, recipes and more. Make vegan brownies with zucchini, applesauce and flaxseed? Hey, never would have thought of that. Red, white and blue skewers with blueberries, strawberries and bananas? Freaking genius.
But something's been bothering me lately...
It's all about going viral.
Going viral means more people will see and share your pin/post/tweet. Going viral means more people will visit your website and read your article. Going viral means you get consistent traffic to your website. And that means more $$$ in your pocket.
Yes, blogging is a way to make money, folks. Bloggers aren't spending hundreds of dollars for web hosting and are quitting their day time jobs to simply provide a public service: There is money to be made from blogging ....but only if you have high and consistent traffic to your site.
A popular way to make money by blogging is through ad placements and affiliate marketing. Have you ever noticed those convenient product links embedded in a blog post linking to a product on amazon? Yep, a blogger gets commission from that, as well as from those super annoying ads everywhere. But it's very minimal - a couple of purchases or ad clicks a month most likely won't even reach the payout threshold. But once you get consistent site traffic, once you have a bunch of page views and a lot of followers on social media, BOOM! You just entered the make-money-online club. But it's competitive these days! There are too many fish in the sea already. The secret to still coming out on top? VIRAL posts! (I don't just mean those getting millions of reposts, even reposts in the thousands can lead to significant gains)
So how do you make a post go viral?
Is it by writing a fact-checked, non-biased, well-researched article that sounds something like this:
"Fenugreek may lead to an increase in breast milk flow in the short-term, but more research is needed."
Or is it by writing something like this:
"DOUBLE your Breast Milk Supply within 48 hours by eating THIS"
Which Headline would you click on? Be honest....
Unfortunately, it's the latter which attracts more attention and increases a blogger's chances of a re-pin, re-post or re-tweet. To get noticed, you have to GRAB ATTENTION, be CONTROVERSIAL, offer QUICK FIXES or MAKE BIG PROMISES. Unfortunately, these promises aren't always backed by evidence - they sometimes come with false or even dangerous advice.
The article I read after clicking a pin which read "How to DOUBLE your milk supply in 48 hours" troubled me. Among harmless advice to drink more water and eat oatmeal, carrots and spinach (neither of which are going to double your breast milk supply, by the way), there were links (did someone say, COMMISSION?) to a herbal supplement containing, among other things, Blessed Thistle, Goat's Rue and Fenugreek Seed. Yes, Fenugreek seems to have a small effect on milk supply. Yes, it claims to be 'natural'. Yes, it claims to 'increase breast milk supply'. Yes, it even has USDA organic certification (which basically just means no synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers or GMOs were used, but says nothing about the safety of the product itself). But it is a Nutritional Supplement, and as such, it neither has to prove that it is effective, nor that it is even safe while breastfeeding! It may not even contain the ingredients it lists. Because nutritional supplements aren't regulated by the FDA. In fact, no studies accompany this article OR the link to the amazon product. The claims are simply MADE UP, and the statement on the blog post claiming it is 'safe while breastfeeding' because it is 'natural' is false!
Goat's Rue does NOT have any reliable safety data on consuming it while pregnant or breastfeeding. There is NO data on whether it actually increases milk supply. In fact, it has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in some people, which can be extremely dangerous when it reaches the breast milk and baby as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be extremely dangerous to a newborn baby.
Blessed Thistle is also not advised during pregnancy, and not enough is known about the safety during lactation. It may irritate the stomach and intestines, and worsen symptoms of Chron's Disease or other intestinal inflammatory conditions, which one can imagine could become a problem to infants whose intestinal flora and gut cell junctions are still in the developing stages.
Besides: What does doubling one's milk supply within 48 hours do to the milk itself? Will it still be adequate for the baby? Will it dilute the milk to the point baby doesn't get the nutrition it needs? Under normal circumstances, our breast milk is perfectly adjusted to baby's current needs,and an oversupply can indeed change the nutritional adequacy and lead to symptoms such as gassiness, green or watery stools, colic, weight loss or weight gain.
I think you get the picture:
Pregnancy, Lactation and early Childhood is a critical time in a child's life - one which impacts lifelong health - I strongly encourage you to seek evidence-based advice and be critical of articles which offer no citations, come without author's credentials or push products to purchase.
Of course, I am a blogger with a business component myself, and getting noticed on social media is one of my goals. as well. After all, there would be no point in writing if nobody read it.
However, first and foremost, I am a Registered Dietitian with a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Nutrition/Nutritional Science and a specialization in Lactation and Infant Nutrition. As a nationally registered nutrition professional, I am bound by my code of ethics to give you evidence-based advice that does not put you or your baby at risk. You can read more about what a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is here.
So, whether you are reading one of my blog posts or consulting with me one-on-one, you can be sure the information you are obtaining comes from credible sources, is well-researched and does not put you or your family at risk. I would never recommend a product or give you advice which is not backed by solid science, and would rather side with caution than 'go viral'.
I am forever grateful for all of my followers on pinterest and facebook, especially those reposting and repinning my 'not so viral' articles to spread evidence-based information on nutrition while breastfeeding!
Thank you from one mom to another :-)
Your Lactation Nutritionist