Written by Yoga Mamas' Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Nikita Sander
The beauty of breastfeeding can be the ultimate bonding experiencing for mama and baby and by now, many of us are well aware of the numerous health benefits breastfeeding has for both mama and baby. Yet, as beautiful of an experience breastfeeding can be, it can also be a common source of stress, frustration and anxiety for many women for a variety of reasons. One such reason may be the perception that milk supply is low or insufficient. It is important to note that the two best indicators for adequate milk supply are:
Although many women worry about the sufficiency of their milk supply, truth is, more often than not, most women need NOT worry. For most, supplementing with herbs known as galactagogues, which are substances that help stimulate an increase in milk production, are not necessary. If you are concerned with low milk supply, the best course of action is to consult a trained and certified lactation consultant who can help determine if there truly is a concern for low milk supply, determine the cause and treat the cause.
Before we move on to exploring the wonderful world of galactagogues, it is important to also be aware that optimal hydration and nutrition is also fundamental to ensuring optimal lactation and milk supply. For each breastfeeding baby, mamas need an extra 500 calories per day in order to keep up with the demands of milk production!
Even the quality of milk can be traced to the mama’s nutrition and eating habits! A combination of quality sources of protein (animal and plant-based proteins), healthy fats (fish, avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, etc) and complex carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes) are fundamental! And while hydration needs vary from woman to woman, dehydration can be a significant contributor to lack of milk production. Aiming as close to 2.5 to 3L of water daily while breastfeeding (and beyond) should make a world of a difference!
Now for the herbal GALACTAGOGUES! Here are a few of my favs:
If you are thinking of supplementing with any galactagogue, receiving individualized guidance from your naturopath, lactation consultant or doctor is always recommended first. These herbs can be found in many different forms from dry or fresh herb to capsules, tablets and tinctures.
Not quite sure where to start? Feel you could use a boost in milk supply? Give the following DIY herbal tea recipe a try:
Lactation Tea Tonic (Makes Approximately 100 cups of tea)
Equipment you’ll need:
BUT, if you’re not into the DIY thing, check out the tea formula called Mother’s Milk by Traditional Medicinals, which combines a number of the above ingredients ready to go in individual tea bags. It can be found at a local health food store, grocery store or even Amazon and is often my most recommended formula!
Cheers to Happy Lactation!