Breastfeeding support for you and your baby
Becoming a new mother is an exciting time and making the choice to breastfeed helps to improve your baby’s healthy development. Breastfeeding provides all your baby’s nutritional requirements so that they can grow strong and healthy and allows you time to relax and bond with your baby.
Problems with breast milk supply
Although breastfeeding is natural and best for babies, it doesn’t always come easily. Many new mothers worry that they don’t have enough breast milk to satisfy their baby’s requirements, making it a stressful time. Traditionally, specific herbs such as Fenugreek and Blessed thistle were used to help stimulate and increase breast milk production.
Fenugreek is considered one of the best herbs to stimulate breast milk production, said to work by stimulating the flow of the mammary glands, enriching milk flow. One impressive anecdotal report of 1,200 women found that generally all the participants had an increase in breast milk production with 24-72 hours.
Blessed thistle is considered one of the best herbs to establish a reliable supply of breast milk and is particularly good for weak and debilitated mothers due to its tonic affect; helping to improve appetite and prevent illness. Its ability to improve appetite via the mother’s breast milk will also assist babies who are poor feeders.
Breastfeeding greatly increases your energy and nutritional requirements
While you’re breastfeeding, your energy and nutritional requirements are greatly increased, even more so than when you were pregnant. A healthy diet, with added nutritional support, can play a very important role for both you and your baby. Nutritional deficiencies can have a negative effect on your baby’s growth and development.
Important breastfeeding nutrients you should consider
In theory, a healthy varied diet should provide you with all the nutrients you need, but there are some vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are especially important while breastfeeding:
- Iodine deficiency is re-emerging as a significant problem in Australia. The healthy development of your baby’s brain and nervous system relies on your own healthy iodine levels.
- Choline is required for the healthy development of your baby’s brain and nervous system whilst breastfeeding.
- B vitamins assist in energy production, so help to meet and support the increased energy demands of breastfeeding.
- Vitamin D is necessary for muscle and nerve development in infants and reduces the incidence of rickets in children. Up to 80% of women have been found to be vitamin D deficient during pregnancy.
- Zinc deficiency is common in breastfeeding women. Zinc plays an important role in DNA replication, growth and development.
- Omega-3’s are important for the development of your baby’s central nervous system during pregnancy and in the first two years of life. Omega-3’s support visual, social, language, immune, skin and digestive development. Concentrated omega-3’s provide pure, high quality fish oils.
Bodnar et al. (2007) Maternal vitamin D and the risk of preeclampsia Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism vol. 92, pp.3517.
Brown, LS, Nutritional requirements during pregnancy, Jones and Bartlett Publishers. Retrieved on 01/12/13 from http://samples.jbpub.com/9780763777920/77920_CH01_001_024.pdf
Caudill, RD, 2010, ‘Pre- and Postnatal Health: Evidence of Increased Choline Needs,’ J Am Diet Assoc, vol.110, pp.1198-1206.
Grieve, M, 1971, A Modern Herbal, New York, Dover Publications.
Nowson & Margerison (2002) Vitamin D intake and vitamin D status of Australians EMJA.
Westfall, RE, 2003, ‘Galactagogue herbs: a qualitative study and review’, Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice, vol. 2 (2), pp. 22-27.