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The Dangers of Lanolin

Have you ever picked out a nipple balm strictly because it contains "lanolin" which is supposed to help with pain and cracking? After reading this, you may want to opt for a cream that doesn't contain lanolin.

Breastfeeding is a natural process that has been shown to provide numerous benefits to both the mother and the baby. However, breastfeeding and pumping can also come with its own set of challenges, such as sore and cracked nipples. We've all been there! To help alleviate this pain, many mamas turn to breastfeeding creams that are designed to soothe and protect the nipples. Unfortunately, many of these creams can contain dangerous chemicals, including pesticides, fecal matter, and other chemicals that can be found within lanolin.

Pesticides in Breastfeeding Creams

Pesticides are chemicals that are used to kill pests such as insects and rodents. While these chemicals can be effective in controlling pests, they can also be harmful to humans. Pesticides are often used in the production of lanolin, which is a common ingredient in many breastfeeding creams. These pesticides can contaminate the lanolin and end up in the breastfeeding cream that mothers use on their nipples.

Exposure to pesticides has been linked to numerous health problems, including cancer, reproductive disorders, and developmental delays. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pesticides, as their bodies are still developing and they have a higher intake of food and water relative to their body weight. Breastfeeding mothers who use creams containing pesticides on their nipples can inadvertently expose their babies to these harmful chemicals.

Fecal Matter in Breastfeeding Creams

Fecal matter, also known as poop, is another potential contaminant in breastfeeding creams. Fecal matter can contain harmful bacteria and other pathogens that can cause serious infections, particularly in newborns who have underdeveloped immune systems. Unfortunately, fecal matter can find its way into breastfeeding creams in a number of ways.

One way is through the use of animal-derived ingredients in the creams. Lanolin, for example, is derived from the wool of sheep, which can be contaminated with fecal matter during the shearing process. If the lanolin is not properly cleaned and sterilized, this fecal matter can end up in the breastfeeding cream.

Another way that fecal matter can contaminate breastfeeding creams is through poor manufacturing practices. If the creams are not produced within a clean and hygienic environment, they can become contaminated with fecal matter from the hands of workers or from other sources.

Other Chemicals Found in Lanolin

In addition to pesticides and fecal matter, there are other chemicals that can be present in lanolin that can be harmful to breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Lanolin can contain residues of chemicals used in the production of wool, including insecticides, fungicides, and other toxic chemicals.

In addition, lanolin can be contaminated with heavy metals such as lead and mercury, which can be toxic to humans even at low levels of exposure. These heavy metals can accumulate in the body over time and cause a range of health problems, including developmental delays, cognitive impairment, and kidney damage.

How to Choose a Safe Breastfeeding Cream

Given the potential dangers associated with pesticides, fecal matter, and other chemicals in lanolin, it is important for breastfeeding and pumping mamas to choose a safe and effective breastfeeding cream. Here are a few tips to help you choose a safe cream:

  1. Look for creams that are made with natural and organic ingredients. These creams are less likely to be contaminated with harmful chemicals.

  2. Read the label carefully and look for information about the source of the ingredients. If the cream contains lanolin, make sure it is sourced from a reputable supplier that uses clean and sustainable farming practices.

  3. Choose creams that have been tested for safety and efficacy. Look for creams that have been certified by a trusted third-party organization.

  4. Consider using a non-lanolin-based cream. There are many effective breastfeeding creams that are made with plant-based ingredients and do not contain lanolin.

My personal favorite nipple creams to use are Motherlove and Earth Mama Organics. I have used these with both of my breastfeeding / pumping journeys and they have been helpful. Pesticides, fecal matter, and other chemicals in lanolin can contaminate breastfeeding creams and expose your baby to harmful chemicals. To ensure breastfeeding creams are safe, it is important to choose products that are made with natural and organic ingredients, have been tested for safety and efficacy, and are sourced from reputable suppliers. Breastfeeding is a beautiful and rewarding experience, and choosing a safe and effective breastfeeding cream can help ensure that mothers and babies can enjoy all the benefits of breastfeeding without unnecessary risks, such as those found with the use of lanolin.

Below are some additional sources you can read to gain an understanding about the dangers of lanolin while breastfeeding:

  1. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides information about the safety of lanolin in breastfeeding creams, including potential risks such as allergic reactions and contamination with harmful substances:

  2. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates common breastfeeding creams for safety and lists lanolin as a moderate hazard due to concerns about contamination with pesticides and other harmful substances:

  3. The website of the La Leche League International (LLLI), a nonprofit organization that provides breastfeeding support and education, includes information about the potential risks of lanolin in breastfeeding creams, including the risk of exposure to pesticides and other contaminants:

  4. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) includes information about the safety of lanolin in breastfeeding creams, including the need for caution due to the risk of contamination and allergic reactions:

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