By Lisa Guy, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea
Breastfeeding can be hard, your nipples get cracked and sore and some women end up with blocked milk ducts. Despite rates of breastfeeding improving up to 75% from 1972, many women are still reporting problems nursing their babies.
Some of the most common complaints are babies not latching, infant reflux and lack of support, but the number one issue is women not producing enough milk!
Here are some effective natural ways to help improve breastmilk production:
1. Herbal teas
One of the best ways to increase milk supply naturally is to drink a breastfeeding herbal tea, 3-4 times daily, made with galactogogue herbs that can enhance milk production. Fenugreek has been used for centuries to increase breast milk production in nursing mothers. Fennel, raspberry leaf, alfalfa, and nettle are also extremely beneficial milk boosting herbs that have the added benefits of being highly nourishing and can help improve digestion and ease intestinal gas for mother and baby.
2. Homeopathic remedies
Homeopathic remedies are safe and effective for improving breast milk production in breastfeeding mums. Agnus castus 30C is the first remedy to try if milk production drops. Take 5 drops under the tongue, four times a day, for up to 3-4 days, until milk production improves.
Other homeopathic remedies used to treat low milk production include dulcamara, ignatia, chamomilla and pulsatilla.
3. Supply and demand
The more you breastfeed, the more milk you will produce – supply and demand. Breasts need to be appropriately stimulated, either by extra feeds or expressing. Feeding baby as often as they need will help increase milk production.
Remember that if you introduce supplementary bottle feeds, your milk supply will diminish because your baby will nurse less frequently.
4. Correct positioning
Correct positioning and attachment of your baby is essential for effective sucking and drainage of the breast, as well as preventing breastfeeding conditions such as mastitis, cracked and sore nipples and low milk supply.
If your baby is weak and has a poor sucking action, your breasts may not be getting enough stimulation, and you won’t be able to produce enough milk. If you are having difficulties attaching your baby properly, a lactation consultant can help you.
5. Stay hydrated
Keeping well hydrated is important for breastfeeding mums, as dehydration can slow down milk production. Nursing mothers should aim to drink around 2 ½ – 3 Litres of water daily. You generally feel thirstier while breastfeeding, so mums should listen to their bodies and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
The best way to remember to do this is to keep a big BPA-free water bottle (glass or stainless steel), with you at all times, and use breastfeeding as a cue for you to have a drink too.
A women’s need for protein is higher while pregnant and breastfeeding. Protein is important for milk production and for baby’s growth and development. To meet this extra demand, women should include healthy protein-rich foods with meals and snacks. Healthy choices include nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, eggs, chicken, red meat, yoghurt, and avocado.
7. Limit caffeine
Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which can lead to dehydration and poor milk production. Drinking too much caffeine can also over-stimulate breastfed babies, which can lead to irritability and sleep problems. If you love your morning cup of coffee, limit yourself to only one and have it straight after your morning breastfeed. Remember black tea also contains caffeine so try to stick to 1 or 2 a day.
All of these are great tips to keep your milk production up and keeping baby fed and healthy!
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