Tips and best practices for successful breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can be challenging! Look into tips and tricks on how to naturally enhance your experience.
Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. Breast milk is the ideal food for infants: it is safe, nutritious and contains antibodies. You can find more about its benefits in this article.
Despite breastfeeding being something humans are designed to do, it can come with complications and challenges. Breastfeeding is a process, and it can take some time for both mom and baby to figure it out. In this article we will review practices and tips on how to achieve a successful breastfeeding experience.
How much and how often to breastfeed
Newborns should be breastfed on demand. This means whenever the baby is feeling hungry: some babies rather have larger amounts at once, while others opt for smaller, more frequent meals.
Signs of hunger:
- Crying, whimpering, squeaking
- Turning their head from side to side as if looking for the breast.
- Mouth movements, putting their hands in the mouth, licking their lips.
- Increased alertness, heavy breathing
- Sucking on fingers or toys.
The most common problems regarding breastfeeding have to do with technique and frequency. Proper latching takes work to achieve.
It is important for the mother and the baby to be comfortable. Find a nice, relaxed space and use a supportive pillow to make yourself comfortable, as it can take from 20 minutes to an hour!
- Laid-back nursing
- Football hold
If you are struggling with latching or positioning, consult a lactation specialist to help you through this process!
How to increase breast milk supply
Breastfeeding follows a simple demand & supply relationship. As demand (expressed through suction -stimulation- and consumption -emptying the breast-) increases, so will supply (production).
Technics like stimulating your breast by hand or using a pump will help empty the breast. This creates more demand for new milk to be produced. Expressed milk can be frozen and used later!
Breastfeeding longer is also worth trying. A newborn should breastfeed for at least 10 minutes on each side. If he falls asleep, gently wake the baby up to continue nursing. Remember to always feed the baby from both sides! It’s a good idea to start with the opposite breast each time!
Boosting skin to skin contact will also help increase breast milk supply. Skin to skin lowers the babys stress, regulates his body temperature, increases bonding and thus improves his breastfeeding.
Additionally, take care of the nipples and breasts. Massaging your breast and applying warm pads before feeding the baby will help flow and avoid mastitis (inflammation of the glands) and engorgement.
Healthy nutrition for moms: what to eat while breastfeeding
Breastfeeding requires a lot of energy! Getting proper rest and finding time for the mother to relax will also help produce more milk!
Also, having a proper balanced, nutritious and delicious diet is important to get enough energy to fuel the body through the process of breastfeeding. Good nutrition for the mother is good nutrition for the baby! Additionally, include foods like oatmeal, dark green vegetables and almonds to your diet to help boost milk production.
Drinking plenty of liquid is also important. Hydration and milk supply are directly related as milk is 90% water.
Things to avoid while breastfeeding
- Avoid smoking, drugs or alcohol. These can reduce supply and most importantly, they will transfer to the milk.
- Avoid coffee
- Birth control pills alter the hormones in the body, making it possible to reduce milk production.
- Stress and fatigue also reduce breast milk production. Finding time to relax and sleep is essential.
- Remember to always consult your doctor or lactation specialist before starting any new medication as these might also transfer to the milk!
Herbs that help breast milk production
- Anis: (Pimpinella anisum) it stimulates the arrival of the colostrum and increases the quantity of milk produced.
- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): this aromatic herb has been proven to possess galactogogue effects (increase milk production), as well as digestive effects.
- Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum): with a sweet flavour, fenugreek has been used to support breastfeeding for centuries. However, its strong flavour can have an effect on the breastmilk’s flavour, making it possible for the baby to reject it.
- Nettle (Urtica dioica): nettle is a nutritious dark leafy plant. High in iron and vitamins, nettle has diuretic effects as well as help fight fatigue. Most importantly it also has a galactagogue effect.
- Alfalfa (Medicago sativa): as one of the most cultivated crops, alfalfa is full of vitamins and minerals. With rich antioxidant properties, high in protein, alfalfa helps increase milk production.
- Galega (Galega officinalis): this plant helps increase the breast glands, making it possible to produce more breast milk.
Herbal teas and infusions that stimulate breast milk production
At Wilden.herbals we have been working on an infusion to enhance the breastfeeding experience. Looking to promote breast milk production while also offering a relaxed moment for the mother to enjoy.
Selecting some of the plants mentioned before (anis, fennel, alfalfa and galega) and combining them with lemon (Citrus limone) and lemon verbena (Verbena odorosa), we look to synergically enhance the galactagogue effect of these medicinal plants. Offering also Vitamins (A, B and C) and a remineralizing effect, this infusion will be great to naturally support new moms through such a delicate process.
- World health Organisation. Breastfeeding. https://www.who.int/health-topics/breastfeeding#tab=tab_1 Accessed 19/10/22
- Cleveland Clinic. Lactation. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22201-lactation#:~:text=When%20your%20baby%20suckles%2C%20it,and%20through%20the%20milk%20ducts. Accessed 19/10/22
- Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501793/
- Foong, Siew Cheng et al. “Oral galactagogues (natural therapies or drugs) for increasing breast milk production in mothers of non-hospitalised term infants.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews vol. 5,5 CD011505. 18 May. 2020, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011505.pub2
- Johnson, Rebecca L. & others. Medicinal Herbs. National Geographic. Washington DC. 2010.
- WHO. WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants. Volumes 1-4. 2009.