My first child was born after a lengthy struggle with infertility. So, naturally, I wanted to do the very best thing I could do for her. In my mind, this meant nursing, despite the fact I wasn’t making enough milk.
If anyone was going to be a poor milk producer, it was me. I was underweight and I wasn’t eating enough. On top of that, my diet was poor. I loved junk food and rarely made a healthy, home-cooked meal. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, because I worried about my baby. Born after a difficult labor, she had a delicate nervous system. Her colic was legendary. She slept much of the day. But, precisely at 4 pm, she’d start to scream.
This fussy period lasted well until after my husband got home from work, and continued until he managed to settle her down by walking around the house.
In retrospect, I do think she had colic. But I also think she was hungry, because I wasn’t making enough milk. I also foolishly listened to another Mom, who assured me that breast fed babies were thinner than bottle-fed infants. I know this is true, but each baby is different. So, if you have any doubts at all about whether you’re making enough milk, please discuss this concern with a pediatrician.
I know my experience is not unique, because something very similar happened to my friend, with her first child. He was dangerously underweight when this problem was discovered, and he needed to be seen at a large children’s hospital. So, if you have any doubts at all about your milk supply, don’t ignore them. Please get help.
Herbal Supplements for Breastfeeding
(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything, I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you.)
Although the vast majority of women are able to nurse successfully, some of us can’t. This is nothing to feel guilty about. Everyone’s body is different. Not everyone can run a marathon or hike to the top of Mt. Everest either. Because your baby’s development is so important, this is the time to rely upon your pediatrician’s advice, instead of listening to well-meaning family and friends.
There are various natural remedies designed to increase your milk supply, including herbal lactation tea that contains a number of herbs, including fenugreek, long employed by herbalists to assist with milk production.
How to Naturally Increase Your Milk Supply
In a nutshell, I hope someone, just one person, can read my story and learn from it. Good nutrition and getting enough rest are essential to providing adequate nutrition for your infant. Here are some things I wish I had done.
- Avoided the Standard American Diet. The acronym for this way of eating is SAD, and this should tell you something. Our bodies are not designed for a steady diet of chemically laden processed foods. Unfortunately, I ate terribly during the years I was trying to conceive and even during my pregnancy. Knowing what I now know, I don’t think the prenatal vitamins I took did much good. That’s because we’re meant to eat whole foods, which contains a host of trace minerals and micro-nutrients, which aren’t contained in synthetic vitamins. If you’re pregnant or nursing, consider eating organic, if you aren’t doing so already. It’s been proven that organic produce is more nutritious than conventional produce. Also, you won’t be eating GMOs. Some of our food crops (corn, soy, canola) are genetically modified, so they’ll withstand being doused with a controversial herbicide. That’s why these seeds are sometimes referred to as “Roundup Ready.”
- Rested Enough. As a new mother I worried too much. If I could go back and do it all over again, I realize I should have just relaxed and enjoyed my infant. Easier said than done, right? Baby anxiety is common, and it seems to especially hit women who’ve had difficulty conceiving, or who’ve suffered miscarriages. (We get used to disappointment.) If you find you spend much of your time worrying about your child’s well being, I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to relieve stress is with a simple technique called “tapping” or EFT. I won’t go into a lengthy explanation here, because there’s so much information available on the web. But I can tell you that it works wonders.
- Drank Enough Water. Dehydration can adversely affect your milk supply. So drink enough water. But make sure it’s pure water. As a new mother, I listened only to mainstream medical authorities because their advice was “proven.” But I learned the hard way that sometimes you have to think outside the box. So, when my precious infant was diagnosed with severe developmental delays, the only real help I found was from holistic healers. Only through their expert care was she able to recover and reach her potential. One thing I had been doing very wrong was drinking fluoridated tap water. Adding sodium fluoride to municipal water supplies is a very controversial practice. This neurotoxic chemical has also been found in breast milk. So, if you’re nursing, and live in a fluoridated community, think about drinking natural spring water instead. (Bottled filtered water may contain fluoride.)
- Not Pumping. The online health site WebMD recommends not immediately pumping breast milk for a newborn, in order to better establish your supply of milk. That’s because pumps don’t drain your breast as efficiently as a baby.
- Lactation Support Supplements. There are some excellent products available online, designed to naturally increase your milk supply, with herbs and other nutrients.
Herbal Tea for Breastfeeding
For centuries, women have been taking herbal blends to help them make more milk. One recipe is found in Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother’s Milk, which contains a mix of plants often recommended by herbalists to support lactation. This tea contains a mix of fennel, anise, coriander, fenugreek and blessed thistle, designed for breastfeeding Moms. (Of course, check with your own healthcare provider before taking any herbal supplement when pregnant or nursing.)
When Women Can’t Breastfeed
Of course, no one will argue that breastfeeding is the very best, all things being equal. But each woman is created differently, and some of us, apparently, are much better at making enough milk than others. Again, this is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just how it is.
I realize this reality is very controversial and that I’m probably going to anger some people, by even suggesting an alternative to breast milk. But the truth of the matter is that some women’s milk supply is so scanty they could endanger their baby’s health. Although this is fairly unusual, I appeared to be one of the small minority of new Moms who don’t make enough milk.
At the moment, there’s intense peer pressure to breast feed, regardless of individual circumstances. I’m so happy the other side is now being discussed. An excellent article that ran in Parenting magazine, entitled The Breastfeeding Police, presented how women who can’t breastfeed, for one reason or another, are scolded and even bullied. Sometimes, the article pointed out, this behavior is even seen among lactation consultants, who are ardent breast milk advocates.
In the end, it all boils down to what’s best for your baby. So if you’ve tried everything possible to increase your milk supply, and it still hasn’t happened, please don’t feel guilty.
Please understand that I’m not a health professional. Nursing difficulties require expert advice. I’m simply sharing my unfortunate story of my own breastfeeding experience.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. People with health concerns should discuss them with a doctor. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use essential oils, unless under the direction of a health care professional.
I’m not a healthcare professional, so all of the above statements are my personal opinion, and are not intended as medical advice. I am not responsible for decisions or outcomes.