Breastfeeding is not just a natural and beautiful act between a mother and child, but it also provides a number of important health benefits for both of them, including perfect nutrition for your baby, strengthened immunity, increased cognitive ability, balanced metabolism, and a decreased risk of chronic illness, in addition to many other important benefits for the mother as well!
Here are just some of the amazing benefits of breastfeeding:
•Breastmilk adapts to your baby’s changing needs
•Breastmilk contains all the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months of life
•Breastmilk is easy to digest and is easily absorbed into your baby’s system
•Both colostrum and mature breastmilk contain antibodies and other agents that protect your baby from infection and diseases like gastroenteritis, respiratory tract infections, ear infections and type-1 diabetes
•The good fats in breastmilk are important for baby brain and nervous system development
•Breastfeeding is important for baby eyesight, speech, jaw and mouth development
•Babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleeping accidents
•Breast milk contains a full range of vitamins and minerals in an easily digestible combination
•Decreased risk of allergies
•Breast milk is sterile, fresh and safe
•Baby experiences less nappy rash and thrush
•It's convenient, cheap and always there when you need it
•Fewer stomach upsets and constipation
•Babies benefit emotionally, because they are held more
•Breastfeeding promotes mother-baby bonding
•The baby's sucking causes a mothers uterus to contract down to normal size and reduces the flow of blood after delivery
•Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast & ovarian cancer later in life
For the first 2-4 days of your baby’s life, your breasts will secrete colostrum, a yellowish fluid rich in proteins. The protein is easily digested and absorbed by the body, especially by the rapidly developing brain. It provides factors that promote maturation of the gut and good digestion and is the most well-designed nutrition for your baby in the first few days of life.
If you are finding that you are struggling to breastfeed, see the below reasons that may be hindering it for both you and your baby.
Some of the main issues that can occur can be
Things that can affect your breastmilk supply
- Blood Loss during labour
- Long labour (exhausted energy)
- Improper nutrition and hydration
- Strong emotions such as anger, frustrations, worry and resentment
- Not allowing yourself to rest and replenish your energy (in order to take care of your baby you must take care of yourself first, let those around you help- it takes a village remember! Look into the "first 40 days")
See your GP, Midwife, lactation consultant, or holistic health professional (herbalist, naturopath, chinese medicine doctor) to assist you in breast feeding. There are also amazing herbal remedies and supplements that can help to increase your milk supply and reduce the incidence of mastitis. And remember theres also milk banks and wet nurses if it's important for you that your baby has breast milk.
One common theme in Chinese Medicine is the theory that the mother feeds the child. Mother’s milk is the best food for a baby, in terms of nourishment and in terms of helping to establish a healthy immune system. It is essential to breastfeed when possible.
The breastmilk is seen as an extension of the blood and therefore mother’s need to eat foods that build their blood. Our blood is created from the food we eat, it is transformed in the digestive system by the spleen (and stomach), which is seen as the centre of the digestive system.
While pregnant, what the mother eats nourishes the child by passing through the uterus and through the placenta where is reaches the child. When breastfeeding, what the mother eats reaches the child through the breastmilk. What the mother eats, the child eats.
Nourishing foods for breastfeeding and postpartum
Grass fed & free range meats
Fish- wild caught, fresh
Good quality oils/fats such as coconut, ghee, grass fed butter extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, cod liver oil, sesame oil
Black sesame seeds
Jujube- chinese red dates
- Have your drinks and food room temperature to warm/hot as much as possible.
- Food is easiest to digest when well and slow cooked (and moist in nature) such as stews, soups etc. The easier to digest, the better for your healing body.
- Eat organic, seasonal, fresh food as much as possible
- Try too avoid too much processed, heavy, fried foods
- Avoid stimulants, alcohol and caffeine as much as possible. FYI, caffeine has a half life of approx 5 hours for adults, meaning after 5 hours you have half the amount of caffeine in your body, however, new borns do not have this same mechanisms and it takes them a half life of 50-100 hours to process the caffeine, By 3–4 months, however, it takes a baby only about 3–7 hours. So if possible, for the first few months of your babies life, consume no or low caffeine products. (This will not only help your body heal, but it will also help your babies moods, sleep and development.)
Herbs for breastfeeding
Galactagogues are herbs, foods, and medications that stimulate milk production and increase the flow of breast milk.
Red Raspberry Leaf
You can find my recommended postpartum/ breast milk supplement here
Educate yourself ladies and don't be afraid to seek out help, knowledge is power!
Always consult your health care provider before starting any new supplements or herbs