This week is World Breastfeeding Week and the World Health Organisation recommends that babies should be breastfed exclusively for at least 6 months, starting within the first hour following birth and that they can continue to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.
Initiating breastfeeding early, within the 1st hour of birth, combined with skin-on-skin contact does much to help baby thrive and offer protection against infections.
This is because the first yellow milk of the mother is rich in colostrum, which helps to build the baby’s immune system.
Colostrum is often referred to as liquid gold, not just because of its creamy-gold colour, but because it is particularly rich in all the nutrients that baby needs for the first six months of life, along with natural probiotics, fats, and antibodies which protects baby from infections and helps establish baby’s GI microbiome.
Infant formula simply doesn’t have these.
The benefits of breastfeeding also extend to the mother, offering a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, postpartum depression, diabetes or obesity. It even helps mother shed the pregnancy weight faster too.
Plus, it fosters and strengthens baby-mother bonding.
What a wonderfully efficient design God made when He created Woman and her ability to breastfeed.
The nourishment and nutrients within breastmilk are so essential that in the past, wet nurses were employed for women who, for whatever reason, were unable to breastfeed or were not producing enough milk.
With the advent of processed food and commercial infant formula, wet nursing fell into disuse.
However, half a century later, people are not only becoming disenchanted with infant formula and the unwanted chemicals in it, but they are also now starting to wake up to the fact that Breast indeed is Best.
So wet nursing is making a comeback. There are of course many women who are concerned that their baby will bond more with the wet nurse than with them and so they are reluctant to use a wet nurse.
In addition, having a wet nurse full time can be rather as expensive as she would pretty much have to live within the family home or as close as possible.
And so breastmilk banks are now becoming a thing.
With breastmilk banks, your baby gets all the necessary nutrition they wouldn’t get from infant formula, but they are fed by you and not another woman.
With the rise of autism and childhood diseases in infants, one cannot help but wonder if early exposure of the baby to chemicals in infant formula could be a contributing factor.
In my opinion, if a mother is unable to breastfeed, I definitely recommend she uses a breastmilk bank so her baby gets the microbial and antibodies protection it needs.
More mothers are realising this and this is why breastmilk banks are on the rise.
Now, whether you are already lactating, are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, it is important to know the benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby, as well as tips on how to improve the experience or increase milk supply.
But while breastfeeding is a natural process, it’s not always easy and this is why mothers need support – both to get started and also to continue.
HERE ARE WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR MILK SUPPLY
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Being stressed can hamper your milk production, so do try to take care of yourself when you can. So what if the house is a little messy – cleaning can wait – baby needs to feed.
CHECK BABY’S LATCH
Sometimes the solution can be something as simple as getting baby to latch properly. Consult your healthcare provider if baby isn’t latching on
SKIN ON SKIN CONTACT
This helps your body produce bonding chemicals which then stimulate the mammary glands to produce more milk.
NURSE MORE OFTEN & USE A PUMP
Many times, the more frequently you nurse, the more your body responds by producing even more milk.
Using a quality electric pump, pump both breasts for about 10-15 minutes after your baby has nursed.
Massaging and compressing your breasts while pumping can also help you empty your breasts, which then signals your body to make more milk.
USE YOUR HANDS
Ask your midwife or Lactation Consultant to guide you in the hand expression technique
A position that works for one momma may not necessarily work for you, so experiment with all the different breastfeeding positions to see which ones work best for you. Make you have all the essentials – a drink, snacks, your mobile, TV remote, book or magazine and so on – before you start feeding.
When mommy is healthy and nourished, her breastmilk is richer and plentiful.
Personally, I am not a fan of taking supplements to increase milk supply. It is better to get your nutrients via food and my own favourite – herbal infusions.
Super foods for breastfeeding include – protein (eggs, salmon, legumes, beans, lentils, meat, poultry, turkey, beef, yoghurt), healthy fats (olive oil, ghee, flaxseed oil, avocados, coconut oil), lots of dark greens and vegetables.
Also add to your diet lactogenic foods such as fennel and fennel seeds (they have phytoestrogens that stimulate lactation); seeds like flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, fenugreek seeds and sesame seeds (they contain estrogen-like properties that are known to increase milk supply); oats, oatmeal, barley, millet and cornmeal (they contain plant estrogens, which have been associated with the stimulation of milk glands)
Finally, I really like making herbal infusions for increasing milk supply. Herbs are rich in so many nutrients and in infusion form, the macronutrients are easily absorbed by the body. During summer, I’d make a large batch of my chosen herbs and chill it in the fridge. They are so refreshing when drunk cold.
Here are some of the herbs that I have used and that I have also recommended for my friends and clients who were also breastfeeding. They are all perfectly safe for mommy and baby.
Nettle leaf – this powerhouse is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium and more. When I suffered severe anaemia, nettle leaf tea was one of my go-tos. It can be drunk throughout pregnancy and beyond.
Red raspberry leaf tea – another favourite of mine. It contains natural estrogens that help increase milk supply.
I normally start drinking this from the middle of 3rd trimester to ensure the nutrients build up in the body before baby is born.
It also helps strengthen the uterus for childbirth, reduces your chance of tearing or needing an episiotomy, reduces the length of labour and strengthens the baby.
When a few of my clients were overdue and reluctant to get induced or even a C-section, I recommended this to them and it helped them go on to have the natural birth they wanted.
The protocol is to drink this from mid-3rd trimester until about 3 months postpartum.
Red Clover tea – similar to red raspberry leaf.
The protocol again is to drink this from mid-3rd trimester until about 3 months postpartum.
Mixing the above 3 herbs together to make an infusion is a great way to ensure you are getting all the necessary macronutrients.
As you know, breast is definitely best, but do not be too hard on yourself if you have done everything you and still found it difficult to do.
Whether you breastfeed, long-term express, use a wet nurse, use a breast milk bank, formula feed or tube-feed your babies, do what is best for you, your child and your situation.
Need more inspo? Then check out THIS ARTICLE on Our Lady as the breastfeeding Mother of Our Lord.
Our Lady of La Leche, She Who Gave Milk To Our Bread, pray for us.
ad Jesum per Mariam