How to Increase Your Breast Milk Production and Supply Naturally
Breastfeeding is a special moment in the lives of both mother and child and experts agree that breast milk is far superior to artificial feeding, which is associated with a general decline in health status and more infant deaths from diarrhea in both developing and developed countries.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and solids are gradually introduced around this age. Supplemented breastfeeding is recommended for up to two years.
Studies show that in addition to the bond that mother and baby experience, breastfeeding is associated with increased intelligence in later life and significantly reduces the risk of many diseases, including:
- sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- middle ear infections, colds and flu
- childhood leukemia
- childhood-onset diabetes
- asthma and eczema
- dental problems
- psychological disorders
Breastfeeding is also beneficial to the mother in the following ways:
- Helps the uterus return to its size and position before pregnancy.
- Postpartum bleeding reduces
- Helps you regain your pre-pregnancy weight
- Reduces the risk of breast cancer in old age.
Unfortunately, although mothers may choose to breastfeed, they often experience difficulties in the supply and production of breast milk. They may also unknowingly have a problem with poor quality breast milk that can make the baby not completely satisfied with the feeding.
The production and supply of breast milk are not the same and each is influenced by different factors. A mother may have a problem with production (usually hormonal, obstructive or due to improper feeding habits) or with delivery (most of the time due to poor nutrition or a weak constitution) or both. Sometimes there may not be any problem with the supply or production of breast milk, but the quality of the breast milk may not be sufficient to satisfy the baby. Traditionally modern medicine only accepted problems of insufficient production, but now with advances in technology that allow us to measure the quality of breast milk, it is now accepted that these three problems mentioned above are real conditions that must be adequately addressed in the mother who breastfeeds.
To understand how to address the problems of low breast milk or insufficient breastfeeding, we must understand how and when breast milk is produced and what factors are involved in the production, supply and quality of breast milk.
How and when is breast milk produced?
Breast milk is produced under the influence of certain hormones that are released after birth, such as prolactin and oxytocin. The release of these hormones is directly related to the baby’s act of sucking at the breast, which in turn stimulates the nerve endings present in the areola of the breast and causes the release of these hormones by the pituitary gland. Prolactin causes the alveoli or glands within the breast to take nutrients from the blood supply and convert them into breast milk. Oxytocin, on the other hand, is responsible for the contraction of cells around the alveoli and the subsequent release of breast milk through the breast ducts and out through the 15 to 20 openings in each breast.
There are a number of factors that can affect production and therefore result in no or insufficient breast milk, these are classified as follows:
- Problems with prolactin or oxytocin secretion
- Blockage of the breast ducts.
- Fatigue and / or stress that cause the inability of the muscles to contract and release breast milk.
Problems with hormonal secretion.
It is rare that insufficient breastfeeding can be caused by a pituitary gland problem; more often, non-discharge cases are due to insufficient stimulation of nerve endings by the baby not latching on or sucking properly or, in fact, not sucking at all in cases where the baby may not can feed or the mother cannot. In these cases, it is recommended to adopt a suitable posture and also use a pump between feedings to stimulate the production of breast milk.
Blockage of the breast ducts.
Blockage of the breast ducts is a fairly common occurrence and is generally associated with inflammation of the breast (mastitis), but it can be due to other causes such as injury or previous surgery to the breast, etc. Fortunately, it is easy to treat, a doctor could prescribe an anti-inflammatory, or you could use natural herbs like mu tong or fenugreek that have traditionally been used to open the breast ducts, reduce inflammation, and promote milk production and flow. Some of the natural breast milk augmentation supplements contain these ingredients and will be discussed later in this article.
Fatigue / Stress
Fatigue and stress can play a role in any illness and is common postpartum. For some, this can be serious enough to be considered postpartum depression. Both stress and fatigue can affect the function of both prolactin and oxytocin, as energy is required for all bodily functions to occur, including the contraction of the muscles responsible for promoting the flow of breast milk. Mothers must get enough sleep and also eat healthy to combat fatigue. Stress can be relieved by getting help from friends and family to care for the baby. Some natural postpartum supplements can also help reduce fatigue and stress. These will be discussed in the supplements section.
The quantity and quality of breast milk largely depends on the health and nutrition of the mother. Studies have shown that nutritional status affects the quality more than the quantity of breast milk, so often a mother will produce enough milk, but the quality and nutritional value of that milk may not be sufficient to provide optimal growth. to the baby. Often times, the body will be able to provide sufficient protein and fat content for inclusion in breast milk by taking it from the mother’s blood supply and, if necessary, by breaking down the mother’s own protein and fat stores. However, the inclusion of vitamins, minerals and other essential substances will be directly affected by the intake of these substances by the mother. In addition to a healthy and varied diet, dietary supplementation is also recommended to increase the production and supply of quality breast milk, especially when the mother is experiencing insufficient breast milk to begin with. In the next section, I look at some postpartum herbs and supplements available to increase breast milk production and supply, and which ones are the best to use.
Herbs and dietary supplements to increase the production and supply of breast milk.
Perhaps the most commonly used herb to increase breast milk is fenugreek, however it is not the best and certainly not the safest to use. Fenugreek is known in herbal medicine as an herb that is warm in nature, influences the liver and stimulates smooth muscle contraction, hence its use in conditions of low breast milk where it stimulates the contraction of the mammary ducts and, by Hence, the release of breast milk. However, you will notice that this is not the only reason for the lowering of breast milk and therefore, despite its high use, it is not very effective in most cases and has a number of side effects that must be taken into account:
- It can cause nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
- Fenugreek can also cause a maple syrup smell in your urine and sweat.
- Fenugreek can interfere with iron absorption, so people with anemia should avoid it.
- It can upset the balance of various forms of thyroid hormones.
- Fenugreek can aggravate asthma, allergies, and diabetes
- Pregnant women should avoid fenugreek, as it is known to stimulate uterine contractions in animal studies and therefore can lead to miscarriage.
Fenugreek is useful when stress can be a major factor in lowering breast milk; however, we do not recommend that it be used alone due to the other effects described above. In fact, traditionally herbs were more often combined with others to limit their toxicities and harmful effects while retaining the beneficial ones. For this reason, we recommend one of the two synergistic formulas below for low breast milk, and in fact the second supplement can also be used as a general postpartum supplement.
Milk tea for mothers
This tea is something you can make at home and is a combination of fenugreek, fennel, coriander, blessed thistle, and anise. Although better than using fenugreek alone, the tea still retains the ability to stimulate smooth muscle contraction as its primary function. However, it contains anise and blessed thistle which have the ability to improve digestion and thus indirectly improve the quality of breast milk as well. For more information on breast milk tea, see: http://www.breastfeeding-problems.com/mothers-milk-tea.html
Lactaboost is a relatively new supplement for postpartum mothers, but it is based on ancient Chinese wisdom, as well as recent scientific evidence supporting the use of this formula for nursing mothers. Not only is it good for increasing the quality and quantity of breast milk, as well as treating production problems, it also has other benefits for mother and baby, including:
- Helps with postpartum depression, weakness, and fatigue.
- Improves digestion of babies and eliminates colic
- Helps with weight loss and return of the uterus to normal after birth.
Traditional Chinese Medicine places great emphasis on proper postnatal care and over a period of hundreds of years developed and refined herbal formulas for that purpose. Lactaboost is based on several of these formulas and is backed by clinical research confirming the benefits of enhancing and increasing breast milk.
It contains several different herbs, including those that can:
- Relieve mastitis and open breast ducts (Caulis Akebia, Platycodon root)
- Improves the quality and quantity of breast milk (Angelica Sinensis, Ophiopogonis Radix)
- Strengthen the digestive system (Astragalus, Glycyrrhizae Radix)
- Help with sleep (Caulis Akebia)
- Relieve cramps and colic (Vladimiriae Radix)
However, this supplement, while safe to use while breastfeeding, should not be used during pregnancy and caution should be exercised in cases of hypertension.
More information here: Lactaboost
Sometimes the above approaches may not work and then it is helpful to consult with a lactation consultant and / or other natural therapist who can work individually with you to prescribe a regimen, remedy or diet plan etc. to treat your specific condition. .
As an example, a Chinese Medicine practitioner will take a history, examine your tongue, and take your pulse to determine what the root of the problem is. In cases of low breast milk, this may be due to stagnation of liver qi, blood deficiency, liver fire causing mastitis, or kidney and digestive weakness. After making a diagnosis, the doctor would write an individualized formula to treat the root condition and could also add known ingredients to treat the branch or manifestation of the root problem.