Breastfeeding is one of the most enjoyable experiences in life. Though many first time mums have no difficulty embracing this new challenge, a lot of mums encounter a painful and often frustrating struggle when breastfeeding their baby. Here are some helpful tips to get you through the most common breastfeeding problems – the natural way.

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Engorged Breasts

During pregnancy, your breasts have prepared for breastfeeding which may have resulted in your breasts gaining in significant size. What is more, a few days after birth, once the milk shoots in, the breast can feel painfully tender, hot, hard and swollen. It is probably even more difficult for the baby to latch on as the nipple may be flat, thus creating more frustration. This phenomenon can occur within a few hours and once the breastfeeding process – supply and demand – is more established to work in tune, it will diminish quickly, usually within a couple of days. In order to ease the discomfort you can take the following steps:

• The best and quickest solution to reduce the pain of engorged breasts is to breastfeed frequently and long. Through your baby’s sucking the production of milk and the supply will start to run more normal.

• If the engorgement is too painful to wait for the next feed or your baby has obvious difficulty to latch on properly, try to express a bit of milk by hand before nursing.

• Wear a well-fitted nursing bra which is not too tight around the breasts. Some women may even prefer not to wear any bra in the beginning.

• If the breasts are still painful after nursing, you can try to ease the discomfort by putting chilled cabbage leaves on your breast (cut a hole in the middle for your nipple). Take them off as soon as the discomfort vanishes.

• Try a warm shower or put a warm towel around your breasts to help the fluids flow better.

Sore Breasts

First time mothers often suffer from hyper sensitive or even cracked nipples. While breast milk is usually the answer for every ailment, including cracked nipples, it may not always give sufficient protection.

• You can use Calendula ointment to speed the healing process and to prevent infections through the nipple. Even though it is safe for baby to swallow it is generally better to wipe any excess off before putting baby on the breast.

• In order to prepare the nipples for breastfeeding you can use Olive Oil in your late pregnancy stage – apply a drop twice a day. This will make them less sensitive and thus less likely to crack once you start to nurse your baby.

• Place wet tea bags, preferably chamomile, on your sore or cracked nipples. The properties in the tea will help with the healing process.

Breastfeeding during Illness

Breastfeeding is the best way to strengthen baby’s immune system and to make her resistant to germs and other bacteria. If you catch flu or some other virus, you do not have to stop breastfeeding your baby as you won’t be able to pass it on through your breast milk. However, your baby can become infected through other contact with you so it is important to wash your hands before handling your little one.

Too much Breast Milk

If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of breast milk, there are several things you can do.

You could donate your breast milk to The United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking. Thanks to breast milk donors human milk can be given to those babies who are unable to be breastfed naturally. It has proven invaluable for a healthier start for premature babies, thus allowing them to develop their immature system more positively. For more information about breast milk donation visit their website here.

However, if you decide not to donate your breast milk, you can also decrease your supply by taking two to three sage tea infusions per day. It can be very effective and will also help with weaning your baby, as it reduces the milk production slowly.

Lump in Breast and Mastitis

If you feel a lump in your breast or your breast is very hard and painful, please see your doctor or a breastfeeding specialist immediately. They will be able to give you necessary medication and/or advice.

Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk

Not enough breastmilk?

March 18, 2008

Breastfeeding is highly influenced by the mother’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. Low levels of stress, healthy nutrition, plenty of fluid intake, emotional support and nipple stimulation through baby’s sucking are all important contributors to breastfeeding success. However, living circumstances often don’t allow perfect breastfeeding conditions: another child in the family, the death of a loved one, money worries etc. all add to an increase in stress levels. Other factors such as breast surgery can contribute to low amounts of breast milk. It has also been found that more women who gave birth by caesarean section encountered breastfeeding problems. This may have various reasons such as the initial separation between mother and baby or the physical pain as a result of the surgery which ultimately affects the mother’s ability to enjoy the breastfeeding experience.

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While the WHO’s (World Health Organization) guidelines of how long to breastfeed clearly state that baby’s physical and psychological health benefit most when breastfed for at least six months, inexperienced mothers often despair when they feel they do not produce enough breast milk to satisfy their baby. It can be an emotional rollercoaster when new mothers have to face personal stress as well as the fact that breastfeeding does not go “according to plan”. This downward psychological spiral inevitably results in the production of lower amounts of breast milk. Consequently, mothers often give up breastfeeding much earlier than the recommended minimum time of six months.

The following suggestions may help to increase the production of breast milk by either calming mother’s nerves and her system or by encouraging the body to produce more.

It is vital to rest when breastfeeding, so rest when baby is sleeping too.

The following herbs are known to help increase breast milk production:
Fennel, Raspberry Leaf, Alfalfa, Nettle, Hops, Blessed Thistle and Goat’s Rue.

o Fennel tea: It helps in different ways: it encourages natural breast milk production and helps soothe indigestion and baby’s colic. Its compounds help balance the female hormone levels and are thus very good for calming the nerves.

o Raspberry Leaf tea: It is recommended to be taken well before giving birth, in the third trimester, to help soften the uterus and thus ease the birth process. It is also very good to be taken after birth as it is full of vitamins and minerals and it is proven to help with the recovery.

o Alfalfa is a more common galactogogues (breast milk increasing herbs). Alfalfa proteins are rich in amino acids which are known to supplement any lack in nutrition and thus, help the improve milk quality and production.

o Nettle tea: like Alfalfa, nettle is full of vitamins and minerals which will help improve the quality of the milk.

o Hops: it has been known for centuries that it helps with breast milk production; however, it should not be taken over a long period of time as it can cause depression and make you sleepy. If you tend to have a depressive nature, it may be better to stay away from hops.

o Blessed Thistle: it is known to stimulate milk production effectively; it is a breast milk booster in combination with Raspberry Leaves.

o Goat’s Rue: it is very powerful and has shown to increase milk production by up to 50% in some cases as it may also stimulate the development of the mammary glands. It has no reported side effects.

Another more hands-on way of promoting breast milk production is simple pumping. As nipple stimulation helps the milk supply it is important to let baby suckle as long as possible or necessary. After a few days milk levels should be increased.

In our modern world many may find it difficult to relax and to rest. Having a baby, giving birth and breast feeding are all dependent on the body’s efficient work force. Please remember to allow yourself time to sleep and relax as much as possible in order to experience a more enjoyable time with your baby!

Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk

Breastfeeding is the most natural way of nursing an infant. In the early 1900s, the numerous health benefits of human milk were not known; but today we are aware of all its health promoting properties, not just for baby but also for mother.• Nursing baby requires a lot of energy, especially when baby experiences a growth spurt and demands very frequent feeding. As such, breastfeeding is nature’s easiest diet because it uses an extra 500 to 1,000 calories a day. If the mother eats healthily this is the chance to shed those unwanted pounds.

• By feeding baby, the body releases the hormone oxytocin which helps contract the uterus during the first few days after birth. This is extremely helpful as it stops residual bleeding and the uterus regains its former shape much quicker.

• Several studies have shown that breastfeeding is related to developing breast cancer; if a woman has breastfed she is at lower risk for pre menopausal breast cancer.

• Continuous infant feeding prevents contraception by stopping ovulation. This phenomenon has been called “exogestation” – gestation outside the womb – because the female fertility system is programmed as if it was still pregnant. Baby’s suckling sends a message to the body which indicates the baby’s developmental stage: the more baby feeds the higher is the contraceptive protection; however, if baby is breastfed less frequently (less than every two hours), contraceptive protection may be much lower.

• The risk of developing ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and hip fractures in later life has also been shown to be significantly lower when breastfeeding.

• Women who have breastfed are less likely to develop heart disease too, as they tend to have higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in their blood.

Mild forms of postnatal depression may be reduced or even prevented because the body’s hormones make mothers feel more positive overall.

Breastfeeding is cheaper: it does not require you to buy a lot of equipment and the savings in formula milk can add up significantly.

Most importantly, nursing mothers all agree that feeding baby is accompanied by an extremely warm, comforting feeling which helps strengthen a deep rooted bond. While baby suckles hormones are released into the mother’s body which calm and relax her in order to make it a very positive experience, especially when she feels tired or stressed.

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Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk