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Supplements for Breastfeeding
Sore Nipples
Engorgement
Mastitis
Poor Milk Supply
Plugged Duct
Stopping Breastfeeding

As with anything that is new and unfamiliar problems can occur when breastfeeding, however with the information below we hope that you will be able to manage the problems and avoid the need for medical intervention. The most important time to introduce your baby to the breast is within the first hour after the birth.

Homeopathy works extremely well with breastfeeding problems and an excellent book to help you to self prescribe is Miranda Castro's 'Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth and Your Baby's First Year'. See the Homeopathic Kits for self-prescribing at home.

It would be a very good idea to see a professional homeopath during your pregnancy, or at least before the birth to ensure that you can get immediate advice and specific remedies to use during those first few weeks with your newborn baby. If you don't manage to organise this before the birth then most homeopaths are happy to give advice by phone and post remedies to you for a small fee even if they haven't seen you before. You can then arrange a proper appointment for a 'constitutional diagnosis' of your baby when you are back on your feet again sometime afterwards.

Once you then have a homeopath for you and your baby they can help you with any health problems that arise and will give you the support and confidence to use only natural health products and avoid the use of medicines.

Breast milk is produced on demand, the more your baby feeds the more you will produce. However to ensure a good quality supply of milk eat a healthy diet, eat when you need to eat, and drink plenty of fluids - drink a glass of filtered or bottled water after each feed, in addition to your normal consumption of fluids. Women who are breastfeeding exclusively need an extra 400-500 calories and 10 grams of protein per day. Extra calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, copper and selenium are also required. Taking a good prenatal multi-vitamin and a calcium supplement can help to meet these requirements (see Supplements below).

It is completely normal to feel emotional, exhausted and as though you are unable to cope during the first few months of breastfeeding. Feeding generally takes place every two hours and therefore rest is very important. Sleep when your baby sleeps and try to do your essential 'chores' when your baby is awake so that as soon as they go to sleep, you can do the same. Ask for help from family and friends as much as you can and don't feel guilty about asking.

It is common for babies to develop colic at about three weeks old and this can be distressing until you get to know your baby well and know how to ease it - see Colic for information and advice.

NB. The information below is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

NUTRITONAL SUPPLEMENTS:

NB. The doses below are for adults and girls over the age of 17. For girls between the ages of 12 and 17 give three-quarters of the recommended dose.

Breast milk is close to being a 'perfect' food however it is low in vitamins C and D and iron. If you are breastfeeding it is important to eat a healthy diet, but it is also beneficial to take a good multivitamin and other nutritional supplements.

Multi-vitamin - a good multivitamin and mineral supplement is important for optimal health whilst breastfeeding. The formulas available also contain whole food extracts and a probiotic - see For Pregnancy.

Essential Fatty Acids - scientific research has shown that the DHA (docosahexanoic acid) in omega 3 fatty acids is extremely important during pregnancy and breastfeeding, for the initial growth and development of the brain and eyes in the foetus. Studies show that women who consume plenty of omega 3 fatty acids are less likely to have children who suffer from behavioural and learning problems and also poor visual acuity. 'MorDHA' is a DHA-rich fish oil and 'Cerebrum Capsules' contain DHA derived from algae which are suitable for vegetarians - see Essential Fatty Acids.

NB. All recommended fish oil supplements have much higher and therefore more beneficial levels of EPA and DHA than most high street brands, are guaranteed to be free from contaminants such as heavy metals and PCBs or dioxins, and are exceptionally stable guaranteeing freshness and no fishy smell or aftertaste.

Vitamin C - taking a total of 2000-3000mg in divided doses daily through supplements helps to support the immune system - see Vitamins.

Calcium and magnesium - these minerals are essential to both mother and baby, and work best when taken together in the ratio 2:1. Breastfeeding women can take a total of 1000-1500mg of calcium a day through supplements (with 500-750mg of magnesium) - see Minerals.

Herbs - to support milk production and help to ease your baby's colic try drinking 'Nursing Tea' which contains dill, fennel, fenugreek, peppermint, raspberry and chamomile. 'Fenugreek Seed extract' can be used by lactating mothers to increase breastmilk and will come through breast milk and help with infantile colic. The Ayervedic herb 'Shatavari' is a female nutritive tonic that can be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 'Blackthorn Elixir' is an invigorating, fortifying elixir to help maintain general health and wellbeing during demanding times such as pregnancy or breastfeeding. All of these products are safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding - see New Mums.

SORE NIPPLES:

If your nipples become sore and cracked it can make breastfeeding excruciatingly painful and it is therefore important to deal with the problem immediately, to ensure that you can continue to feed your baby.

'Nipple Balm' is a pure and natural balm to help soothe breasts and avoid and ease cracked nipples, and contains a blend of plant oils and butters including calendula - see New Mums.

• Ensure your nipples are kept clean and dry in-between feeds to reduce the risk of the cracks becoming infected.

• Use nipple shields immediately that the problem begins.

• Ensure your baby is latched on properly at all times - your midwife or health visitor can help you with this. If your breasts are very full express a little milk first so that your baby can latch on easily.

• When you need to gently remove your baby from the breast at the end of a feed, to avoid the nipple being pulled, insert your little finger carefully into the side of the mouth to release the suction.

• A feed generally takes around ten to fifteen minutes, so if your baby wants to suckle for comfort after feeding encourage them to suck on a thumb or your finger instead.

• If feeding is still painful use a breast pump and give the milk to your baby in a bottle for 48 hours to allow the skin to heal, using the 'Nipple Balm' as above.

Homeopathy - try taking the homeopathic remedy Calendula 30c (one dose 3-4 times a day) - see Homeopathy.

NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.

The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, or you need a higher potency contact a professional homeopath.

ENGORGEMENT:

On the third day after giving birth the breasts begin to produce milk instead of the colostrum that has been produced throughout pregnancy. If the milk comes in very suddenly the breasts can feel very full and tender. If you develop a fever you have probably developed Mastitis (see next section below).

• Applying hot flannels to your breasts and expressing a little milk before feeding will help to soften them before feeding so your baby can latch on properly.

Breastfeed frequently - until things have settled down it is important to ensure that the breasts are emptied regularly either by feeding, or by using a breast pump, or both.

• Apply cold flannels to the breasts after each feed to constrict the blood supply.

Homeopathy can be very effective at dealing with breast problems such as this and the most common remedies are Bryonia and Belladonna. Take Belladonna 30c if you are restless, with throbbing pain, and you have red streaks on your breasts, and take Bryonia 30c if pains are much worse for movement and the breasts are very hard and pale - see Homeopathy. Take one dose three to four times a day.

NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.

If you are unsure or if any of these remedies are not working, contact a professional homeopath.

MASTITIS:

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breasts and can occur due to engorgement, a blocked duct or if an infection occurs, usually through cracks in the nipple. Symptoms are the breasts feeling heavy and full combined with pain, heat, tenderness and possibly redness on the breasts. It can be accompanied by a fever.

To avoid mastitis ensure each breast is regularly emptied and keep the nipples clean and dry in-between feeds.

It is important to act quickly to reduce the symptoms and avoid the need for medical intervention - see BREAST SUPPORT

• Apply hot and cold flannels alternatively to the breast and repeat every two to four hours.

• Try breastfeeding more often, and in a variety of positions to try and drain the blocked duct.

• Have a bath and massage the area, although painful this can help to ease the blockage.

• Swing your arms around gently in circular movements to stretch the area.

• Place your baby on the breast with the chin pointing across from the blocked duct.

• Use a breast pump to empty the breast if your baby is not doing so.

Stay in bed, particularly if you have a fever and rest until the problem eases.

• Drink plenty of fluids, again, particularly if you have a fever.

Homeopathy is very effective at dealing with breast infections and the most common remedies are Bryonia and Belladonna. Take Belladonna 30c if you are restless, with throbbing pain, and you have red streaks on your breasts; Bryonia 30c if pains are much worse for movement and the breast are pale; Phytolacca 30c for hard and painful lumps; or Silica 30c if the breasts are lumpy and painful with some discharge from the nipple - see Homeopathy. Take one dose every two hours during the day until you see an improvement.

NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.

The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, or you feel you need a higher potency contact a professional homeopath.

POOR MILK SUPPLY:

Getting to grips with breastfeeding can take some time and patience initially but once you do it is unusual not to produce enough milk for your baby's needs, because the more a baby feeds the more you will produce. However if your milk supply is low or your baby isn't gaining sufficient weight some of the following suggestions should help.

• Drink plenty of fluids - you need two pints more each day than you would normally consume.

• Try drinking 'Nursing Tea' it contains dill, fennel, fenugreek, peppermint, raspberry and chamomile to encourage milk production and help to ease your baby's colic. 'Fenugreek Seed extract' can be used by lactating mothers to increase breastmilk and will come through breast milk and help with infantile colic. The Ayervedic herb 'Shatavari' is a female nutritive tonic that can be taken when breastfeeding. It is safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding - see New Mums.

• Drink only filtered or bottled water, diluted fruit juices and herbal teas - cut out alcohol and caffeine i.e. tea, coffee, cola and chocolate.

• Eat a healthy diet, and have a nutritious snack every time you feed your baby - you need about an extra 400-500 calories a day whilst breastfeeding.

• Get as much sleep as you can throughout the day, and ask for help from friends and family.

• Get complete rest - if you can, go to bed with your baby and eat and sleep there for a day or two.

• Apply hot flannels to your breasts before a feed to encourage let down, or try feeding in the bath.

• Use positive visualisation techniques and imagine the milk flowing into your breasts as you feed, and relax. Make sure you are comfortable and uninterrupted.

• Remember that your baby's weight gain is always going to vary. All babies are different and the charts that are used by the NHS are only a guide. Speak with you health visitor if you are concerned.

Homeopathy can be very effective at improving milk supply. Take Pulsatilla 30c if your milk supply is making you feel upset and overwhelmed or visa versa, or try Urtica urens 30c if your milk supply is just scanty - see Homeopathy. Take one dose twice a day for 5-7 days.

NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.

The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, or you need a higher potency contact a professional homeopath.

PLUGGED DUCT:

The first signs of a blocked duct are soreness and a lump in the breast, and sometimes, but not always some redness of the skin over the area. Acting promptly can clear up the problem and avoid an infection such as mastitis developing - see the Mastitis section for ways to clear a blocked duct.

Homeopathy can be very effective at dealing with breast infections and the most common remedies are Bryonia and Belladonna. Take Belladonna 30c if you are restless, with throbbing pain, and you have red streaks on your breasts; Bryonia 30c if pains are much worse for movement and the breast are pale; or Silica 30c if the breasts are lumpy with discharge - see Homeopathy. Take one dose three to four times a day.

NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.

The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, or you need a higher potency contact a professional homeopath.

STOPPING BREASTFEEDING / WEANING:

There is much discussion about the length of time that babies should ideally be breastfed however there is little advice about how to stop. Breastfeeding obviously creates a very strong bond between mother and baby and although some babies lose interest and wean themselves off the breast, others are very reluctant and it can be difficult to know how to go about it. Some babies also become clingy or angry once weaned as a form of separation anxiety, and this is very normal.

The best advice is to do it gradually and gently by replacing one feed at a time with a bottle or cup. Some babies are willing to take this step while others may refuse entirely. You may have to deal with crying and upset and your baby may go to bed, on the night that you finally stop, without a milk feed and although upsetting this is nothing to worry about. Habits will be broken and things will move forward.

The Dr Bach remedy 'Walnut' when given to both mother and baby and has been found to make the change go more smoothly - see Flower Essences.

If your baby does not take to formula or cows' milk, from one year onwards you can give organic Rice Milk. Rice Milk is naturally sweet and easily digested, and is available in most supermarkets and health food stores, but it is important to add a calcium supplement - see Minerals for Babies & Children.

If you need to stop the production of your breast milk at this point take one dose of the homeopathic remedy Lac Caninium 200c - contact Ainsworths on 01883 340332 to order. If your baby does seem very upset after stopping breastfeeding see a professional homeopath for a specific remedy.

POST-BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT:

Take an omega 3 fatty acid if you are not already doing so. Choose a fish oil supplement or a flax oil complex if you are vegetarian - see Essential Fatty Acids.

The Ayervedic herb 'Shatavari' is a female nutritive tonic  - see New Mums.

Try the herb Vitex Agnus Castus - take 20 drops in water first thing in the morning for two to three months - see Single Liquid Herbs.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

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