1.Supply and demand is one of the biggest factors to help support the production of breast milk. There is a stimulus/response system between the breast and the brain. When the baby suckles, the brain releases oxytocin to trigger breasts to manufacture more milk. The more baby is allowed to suck, the more the breast is stimulated to produce milk. So the more you ring the dinner bell, the more generous the buffet!
2. Breast milk comes in two courses. The initial offering is carbohydrate rich foremilk. Consider the foremilk the appetizer and salad. Next on the menu is the fat rich hindmilk. Hindmilk is important for growing babies who need those extra nutrients. If baby is switched from one breast to the other too soon before the first breast is drained, they essentially leave the table before the main course is served. A good rule of thumb is to finish the first breast first and start on the opposite side for the next feeding. Nurse, drain, rinse, repeat.
3. Nothing says “snuggle” and cements bonding like skin-to-skin contact between mama and her nursling. Sometimes lazy, sleepy sippers do a better job of getting down to business when they are held skin to skin.
4. You know how a flight attendant tells you to put on your own oxygen mask first?You can’t be much help to your child if you’re lying on the deck panting for air. The same thing is true when you’re nurturing a baby. Stress can affect a woman’s ability to produce breast milk, and with new mothers, rest and sleep can be very rare commodities. So when your well-meaning friends offer to bring over a casserole – accept it with gratitude! In fact, when your family says “let me know if there’s anything I can do,” invite them to toss in a load of laundry or do some grocery shopping. They really do want to help!
5. Even if you don’t sleep, rest when you have a chance. Your body has an amazing ability to recharge itself. Here’s some ancient wisdom for you: Rest when the baby rests, clean when the baby cleans. Making milk really is something of a superpower. But even Wonder Woman needs a nap sometimes!
6. In spite of what you hear, babies can’t be spoiled. Unlike peaches, they are perfect in-the-moment beings whose very survival depends on their ability to communicate their needs (see #9, below). Babies cry when they need to eat. When they are born, their stomachs are about the size of two marbles, and it takes as little as 7 ml. of milk to fill them up. Nursing when baby cries, nuzzles and roots keeps the supply and demand system in perfect balance without having a stuffed, regurgitating baby.
7. Babies have an innate need to suck, but mamas can get exhausted by active non-nutritive suckers, and bottles and pacifiers can cause nipple confusion. For this reason, wait until nursing is well established before you offer baby a pacifier. Huh? Pacifier you say? Mama time is comfort, sucking and feeding time. And important research shows that the use of pacifiers can significantly reduce the risk of SIDS. According to First Candle, experts recommend giving your baby a pacifier EVERY time he or she is placed down to sleep after about a month of successful breastfeeding.
8. Eat well, mama. Breastfeeding requires about 200-600 calories a day. This is not the time to try to diet back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Quite the opposite. What you eat is nourishing two people. So make every calorie count with a well balanced diet of good whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and plenty of protein. Your body will use the calories wisely. It’s recovering from important work and needs the nutrition. And so does your baby.
9. Lucky you! It’s now your job to keep track of someone else’s poop. But don’t confuse what goes out with what goes in. At around 3-4 weeks, bowel movements will decrease. Exclusively breastfed babies may have only one bowel movement every day or two, sometimes even longer. Breast milk is used very efficiently by the body and there are, as a rule, fewer “leftovers,” so bowel movements are less frequent than those of formula fed babies. Nursing well and urinating frequently are signs of a well-nourished baby.
10. It takes a conscious effort to be calm when your baby is frustrated and crying. But remember that babies communicate by crying. That’s all it is – communication. Relaxing through the anxiety of a crying baby can help you feel calmer, which leads to easier breastfeeding. Try some breathing techniques, count to ten, do one minute of meditation, run in place or do whatever you need to do to feel collected. Then pick up the baby and calmly make sure you have a good latch. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your calm reassurance is communicated to that squalling mass of squirming pink flesh. You’re doing a great job, mama!
- The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines,Ed. Mark Blumenthal, et. al.,The American Botanical Council, Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998.
- European Scientific Cooperative On Phytotherapy Monographs, The Scientific Foundation for Herbal Medicinal Products, Argyle House, 2nd ed. 2003
- The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs, Mark Blumenthal, 1st ed. 2003, The American Botanical Council
- Botanical Safety Handbook, Ed. Michael McGuffin, et. al. American Herbal Products Association, CRC Press, 1997
- Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions, Third Edition, Francis Brinker, N.D., Eclectic Medical Publications, 2001
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Jellin JM, ed., Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty; 2002.
- Di Pierro F, Callegari A, Carotenuto D, Tapia MM. Clinical efficacy, safety and tolerability of BIO-C (micronized silymarin) as a galactagogue. Acta Biomed. Dec 2008;79(3): 205-210.
- The Nursing Mother’s Herbal, Sheila Humphrey, BSc, RN, IBCLC, 1st ed, Nov 2003 Fairview Press
- Medical Herbalism, The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG, Copyright 2003 Healing Arts Press
- Clinical Applications of Herbal Medicine, Paul D. Barney, M.D., 1996, Woodland Publishing
- The Essential Guide To Herbal Safety, Simon Mills and Kerry Bone, Copyright 2005, Elsevier Churchill Livingstone, Inc.
- The Way of Chinese Herbs, Michael Tierra, L.Ac., O.M.D., Copyright 1998, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
- A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health, Dean Raffelock, D.C., Dipl.Ac., CCN, Robert Roundtree, M.D., et. Al., Copyright 2002, Penguin Putnam, Inc.
- KellyMom Breastfeeding and Parenting website,http://www.kellymom.com/herbal/index.html
- Ask Dr. Sears.com, http://www.askdrsears.com/html/2/T022800.asp
- First Candle, Helping Babies Survive and Thrive website: http://www.firstcandle.org/?s=sleep+and+pacifier
- Medline Plus webwite, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/medlineplus.html
The information about the use of herbs and essential oils contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for seeking the advice of a qualified health care provider. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your health care provider about the use of herbs and essential oils, especially during pregnancy, when nursing a baby or with children. To request permission to reprint the information in this article, please email firstname.lastname@example.org