One of the more challenging elements of being a new mother (along with the lack of sleep!) can be ensuring that your baby is feeding enough and that you have enough breast milk flowing. Colostrum is the first milk in a mother’s breasts after birth and is rich in protein and antibodies that build your baby’s immune system. This is what makes breast milk an incredibly protective and nutrient boosting food for your bubba.
The wonderful power of botanicals really shines through when boosting breast milk production. Herbs can work very quickly to boost breast milk production as can a few simple changes which I describe below.
Fenugreek, Goats Rue and Blessed Thistle are three of my favourite herbs for increasing breast milk. They work by directly impacting the mammary glands. In fact, direct effect on the mammary glands in the breasts themselves. It is a good choice for women who experience problems with their production from the beginning, or those who have had previous breast surgeries. It has been shown to increase milk production by up to 50% in many cases, and may also even stimulate the development of the mammary glands. Other herbs that also work include Fennel, Nettle and Red Raspberry Leaf. You may be able to find a naturopath to blend these herbs into a liquid herbal tincture for you (or contact me and I can arrange this) or find a tea that contains these herbs. Taking the tincture daily or having a few cups of the tea really does make a huge difference anecdotally with women in my practice. Sometimes we find this is often all it takes to get milk flowing naturally.
Keeping hydrated is one of the best ways to improve your breast milk production. Given breast feeding depletes your body fluids, having a glass of water or a cup of tea ensures that you are keeping adequately hydrated.
There are a few foods I highly recommend you get started on or increase when breastfeeding. These include:
Oats: Whilst eating a bowl of porridge to increase breast milk is considered an old wives’ tale, many women do report their breast milk supply increases when they incorporate oats into their diet. A possible explanation for the mechanism of action may be that oats are rich in nutrients and minerals including calcium and iron required for healthy breast milk. They may also act as nervines, relaxing the body and hence encouraging great breast milk flow. Have a cup of oats for breakfast or add to your favourite smoothie.
Healthy Fats. Omega 3 Fatty Acids are not only important for you but also for your baby given they are vital for their brain and eye development. Your diet can be influence the quality of fats in your breast milk so making a few changes to the types of fats you are eating is something I highly recommend. A study published in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition” demonstrated that the breast milk of Spanish mothers was lower in saturated fat and higher in monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, which reflects the traditional Mediterranean diet of Spain. Aim to incorporate plenty of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids into your diet. These can be found in walnuts, almonds, avocado, chia seeds and fish as opposed to saturated fats found in processed foods and grain fed meat. Aim for a handful of nuts daily (walnuts and almonds are best), 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and 3 serves of wild-caught fish weekly (avoid fish high in heavy metals such as tuna, mackerel, ling and swordfish and avoid farmed fish).
Sesame Seeds: Sesame seeds are a wonderful way to boost your calcium levels which is important for healthy milk supply.
A Few Practical Tips.
Feeding more often. Feeding more often ensures that the tiny nerves in the nipple are being stimulated by your baby. This causes the release of hormones into your bloodstream. One of the hormones (prolactin) activates the milk-making tissues. The other hormone (oxytocin) causes the breast to push out or let down the milk.
Massage. Massaging your breasts may encourage milk supply. Stroke it towards the nipple on all sides as your baby feeds. Take care not to disturb the nipple in your baby's mouth.
Take care of mum. Ensure you are looking after yourself by continuing to eat a balanced diet, sleeping when you get the opportunity to do so and seeking support from friends and family.
Lactation Smoothie Recipe
This is an easy smoothie recipe incorporating the breast milk boosting foods I have recommended above. Aim to have this once daily if possible and vary with any fruits or your favourite superfood powders. The addition of maca to this smoothie assists in boosting your energy levels during the day.
- 250 to 300 mls of almond milk
- ¾ cup of oats
- ½ avocado
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds or flaxseed meal
- 1 tablespoon of maca powder
- 1 tablespoon of tahini paste (unhulled)
- 2 to 3 drops of vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean scraped
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- Optional: ½ cup of frozen berries, 1 cup of baby spinach or kale, 1 frozen banana
Blend all of the ingredients together. Add a few ice cubes for a frozen shake.
If you would like to discuss starting a breast feeding herbal formula please contact email@example.com. For more detailed assistance with respect to lactation concerns, I highly recommend you contact Lynn-McKensey Hall, a private IBCLC (International Board of Certified Lactation Consultant) and midwife who has fantastic results with women experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding firstname.lastname@example.org