Today, we are talking all-things breastfeeding, and I’m going to show you a few breastfeeding hacks straight from the kitchen. As women, we are bombarded with information about being “healthy” while pregnant, but did you know it’s just as important to take care of yourself and monitor what your eating and are exposed to while nursing? That’s because so much of what you put into your body crosses the bloodstream and is used to build your power-house milk! And in order to make that milk as nutritious as it can be, moms need good rest, hydration and nourishment.
So whether you’re trying to boost your milk supply, are experiencing engorgement, have a plugged milk duct, or are lacking energy because you’re feeding a baby, I’m going to show you some of my best recommendations in this video! If you like it, be sure to share it! You never know when someone you know is struggling with breastfeeding.
Low Milk Supply Culprits
First, let’s talk low milk supply.
I love to start with the obvious, and then I’ll recommend several key herbs that can help out too. If you’re trying to “do it all” with a newborn or infant, you need to pause and ask for help. Beginning my career in pediatrics, I saw so many women just days after they gave birth. Many are thrilled but no matter the sentiment, they’re all tired and using their reserves. This is the stage where your body is working hard to recover from being pregnant and delivering, and the addition of a child is a beautiful, but hard change. Since you’re likely getting inconsistent sleep, ask your partner, spouse, trusted family member or friend for help so that you can rest. It’s so important to rest—especially the first few weeks. Focus on getting a 5-hour stretch of sleep or a solid 2-hour nap during the day.
Also, hydration! It’s incredibly easy to get dehydrated while nursing, so focus on hydrating throughout the day by carrying a water bottle with you. Try coconut water or water with added electrolytes to give your body a boost. If you find that you’re struggling, keep count of how many bottles and ounces you are drinking until you form a good habit. Hydration and nutrition are both so key during the breastfeeding journey. In fact, even ancient Chinese practitioners believed that breastmilk supply went down when women were depleted in both protein and fat. I couldn’t agree more! A great cure for this problem is to drink bone broth daily until milk supply was back-up and consistent.
Finally, make sure you are putting the baby to the breast often enough because the more demand, the more supply your body will be triggered to create. This is where pumping might come in-handy.
Herbs for Boosting Supply
Moving on to herbs…I love recommending these “safe for nursing” herbs that are galactagogues, which simply mean a substance that helps to boost milk supply.
Don’t underestimate the power of these herbs either! They can be so effective when used consistently. Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Alfalfa and Red Raspberry Leaf are a few of my favorites. You can buy capsules of these herbs from a trusted, vetted company or drink an herbal tea blend containing one or more of these herbs.
Let’s quickly run through each:
Fenugreek – tends to be the most common and has been used for nursing mothers for centuries! You’ll notice as you slowly increase your dosage that you may sweat more and both your sweat and urine may smell similar to maple syrup.
Blessed Milk Thistle – this tall, prickly, purple flowering plant is powerful! Used for thousands of years this plant is known for it’s healing benefits to the gallbladder and liver and is a known galactogogue. Supports both gallbladder and liver, which have taken a hit in process of child-birth and encourages hormones to increase milk supply.
Red Raspberry Leaf – is also considered to be a galactogogue. It not only makes a delicious tea, but has multiple health benefits for a postpartum mom besides just raising milk supply. Drinking it may also help to tone the uterus after childbirth and assist in regulating hormone levels!
Alfalfa – is just plain healthy – high in antioxidants and rich in nutrients, I love when I hear a breast feeding mom is incorporating alfalfa into her diet! In addition to being a galactogogue, alfalfa is also believed to help with digestive disorders, kidney and arthritic symptoms.
On the flip-side, some of my patients have struggled with engorgement and swear by this unique Kitchen Cure…cold cabbage leaves! If you are engorged when your milk first comes in or when trying to wean your baby, take cold (refrigerated) and clean green cabbage leaves and wrap around breasts leaving nipple-area exposed. Leave on for 20-minutes or until cabbage becomes room temp. Once engorgement is over, discontinue use as they could continue to reduce milk supply. Researchers are not 100% sure on what is it about the cabbage that helps, but it’s widely reported by mothers to help with inflammation and pain associated with engorgement.
Plugged Milk Duct
Finally, for those dreaded plugged milk ducts, studies have found that by taking 1,200 mg of lecithin, 3 – 4 times a day, you can help prevent and treat a plugged milk duct. It’s a great supplement to have on-hand, especially for the early days of breast feeding when it’s most common to get a plugged milk duct or a painful “knot” as some women describe them. It’s also helpful to massage the plugged duct in a circular motion while nursing (toward the nipple) and apply a warm compresses before and after nursing. Hang in there though because these knots are painful!
So whether you are trying to boost your milk supply, are experiencing engorgement, have a plugged milk duct, or are lacking energy because you’re feeding a baby, don’t forget these tried and true recommendations work! And be sure to share this post. You never know when someone else is struggling with breastfeeding. It’s not for the faint of heart, but so worth it!