Breastfeeding And Galactagogues: Mamas, Lets Make More Milk!


Keep in mind that taking certain herbs while breastfeeding can have adverse effects. Before adding them to your diet in the hopes of increasing your milk supply, it’s important to consult your doctor.

I have nursed four babies and have never needed to take anything to boost my milk supply. However, I am aware that there may be some of you out there who may need a little help. First, what is a galactagogue?  It is a long word meaning “a substance that increases milk supply”. Herbs and medications that increase your milk supply are known as galactagogues (ga-lac-ti-gogs). If your milk supply is low, you might want to try using a natural foods, galactagogues or even prescription medication to help increase your milk production. The word “galactagogues” comes from the Greek “galacta,” meaning milk.

The best way to increase your milk supply is to take galactagogues while you increase the number of times you pump and breastfeed your baby. Note that breastfeeding mothers have been taking galactagogues throughout history to increase milk supply. I recommend you try the natural foods and pumping 8-10 times per day, and breastfeeding . Remember a pump cannot substitute for your little star’s sucking. It is the next best thing to do while breastfeeding is being established. Our aim when we use galactagogues in one main goal and that is to increase milk supply.

What About Beer And Alcohol?

Approximately 15% of breastfeeding women use herbs when they feel they need to increase their milk production. However, with the exception of Fenugreek, most of these herbal galactagogues have not been studied much to see if they do increase milk supply.  And while beer or alcohol is a traditional folk remedy for low milk supply, current studies indicate alcohol consumption is more likely to decrease infant consumption of milk than increase it (source). We really do not want your infant consumption to decrease. So this is something you should consider.

Herbal galactagogues: Can Be Very Effective

Some of the most well-known and anecdotally effective galactagogues are herbal. Tens of herbs are believed to increase breast milk for nursing mothers.

Many of these herbs stimulate mammary growth as well as provide hormonal support. Fenugreek, one of the most well-known galactagogues, is a Middle Eastern spice. Nettleblessed thistle, and ginger are other popular herbs that are thought to improve milk production.

Keep in mind that taking certain herbs while breastfeeding can have adverse effects. Before adding them to your diet in the hopes of increasing your milk supply, it’s important to consult your doctor.

Fenugreek

There are many common herbal supplements available that have been shown to be effective for increasing your milk production. Fenugreek is likely the most commonly used galactagogue. A seed extract that can quickly increase milk supply, the recommended daily dose is 3.5-6 grams depending on your doctor’s or lactation consultant’s advice. Some women notice they have a maple syrup smell when taking fenugreek. It may also cause contractions or an allergic reaction, do not take fenugreek if you are pregnant or allergic to peanuts or soybeans. (Paid link here)

Blessed Thistle

This plant has been used as a medicine for hundreds of years and has been shown to increase milk supply. It works best when taken in combination with fenugreek. It comes in capsule or tea form and should be taken three times per day.

Alfalfa

A type of pea, alfalfa has a mild effect on increasing milk supply and is often used in combination with fenugreek. You can take alfalfa in pill, tea, or food form. Alfalfa sprouts have a pleasant, nutty flavor and have a number of health benefits. You can also make tea from alfalfa leaves or take as a tablet.

Goat’s Rue

This herb can be a powerful galactagogue and is often taken along with a blend of fenugreek and other herbs. Do not use it in its fresh format as it is considered toxic; use only commercially prepared dry leaves for tea or capsules. These herbal supplements are readily available online or at your local health food store. Talk to your doctor or lactation consultant before taking any supplements, particularly if you have allergies or are taking any prescription medications.

Let A Galactagogue Be Your Last Resort

Mama give these tips a try first

If you’re concerned about your milk supply, the first step is to contact a certified health professional to help you.

It may turn out that you’re worrying unnecessarily, and that both your milk supply and your baby are just fine. If your supply is on the low side, a lactation consultant will be able to make recommendations for improving production.

These might include:

  • Skin-to-skin contact, which will release prolactin and stimulate oxytocin, two hormones that can help milk production
  • Breast compression, a method of gently squeezing the breast as you nurse to encourage milk glands to let down more milk
  • Comfortable positioning during breastfeeding
  • Frequent feedings or regular pumping sessions- 8-10 times per day or every 2-3 hours.
  • Pumping sufficient milk to meet you little star’s needs.
  • Drinking lots of fluids- Never allow your body to get thirsty.

Most women will find that these methods are enough to improve milk production. Give them a try first.

It’s also important to avoid habits and behaviors that can inhibit your milk supply, such as:

The cold and allergy medications can reduce your milk supply if you are on them a long time, but if you need them, its ok to get you well again. Make sure that you discuss with your healthcare provider.

Master Your Diet for Good Nutrition

The LLLI, nursing mothers is of the persuasion that breastfeeding mothers  don’t need special diets to produce milk for their babies. Instead of worrying about incorporating certain foods, La Leche advises following a healthy, sensible diet.

Try to include:

 Green papaya

This galactagogue is prized in Asia for its enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. It’s a particularly good source of vitamin A and vitamin C.

One small fruit contains nearly 100 milligrams (mg)Trusted Source of vitamin C. For women who are lactating, the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C is only 115 to 120 mg each day.

Note that green papaya is the unripe fruit. It must be simmered until it’s soft enough to eat.

Fennel and fennel seed

The fennel seed is widely considered to increase milk production. The vegetable, which can be eaten raw or cooked, may also help. Discover other benefits of fennel. (Paid link here)

Grains

In addition to their reputed antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, oats are a well-known comfort food. It’s thought that eating something associated with comfort may cause a woman’s body to release oxytocin, a hormone involved in the production of milk.

Other grains that may function as possible galactagogues include milletbrown rice, and barley.

Chickpeas and lentils

Legumes, such as chickpeas and lentils, have long been touted for their milk-boosting properties.

Brewer’s yeast

Also known as nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast is a good source of protein and iron. It also contains phytoestrogens, which may help with breast tissue health and lactation.

Nuts

Raw nuts, including cashewswalnuts, and macadamia nuts, are also believed to support the production of milk. (Paid link here)

Sesame seeds

Another Asian galactagogue, sesame seeds are a vegan source of calcium. Black or light-colored sesame seeds will work, as will tahini, a creamed version of the seed.

Lactation cookies

Recipes for lactation cookies often combine flax seeds, brewer’s yeast, oats, and other purported milk-boosting ingredients to get a delicious treat.(Here is the paid link to purchase your delicious lactation cookies)

Bottom line

Mamas there is nothing like breastfeeding your baby directly from the the breast. Breastfeeding your baby consistently is truly the best way to increase your milk supply. No foods or herbs have been reliably shown to increase milk production. There have however been many testimonies of moms who testify that their milk supply have increased as a result of taking these herbs. I sure hope your breastfeeding However, most of the foods listed above are nutritious and safe to add to your daily diet.

I hope your milk production is getting better and better as time goes on. Thanks for stopping by today. Do visit again. Please like, or comment. I would love to hear from you. Remember God loves you. Ask for His help in all things. Before adding specific galactagogues to your diet, be sure to discuss them with your doctor. This website contains affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission  from products and services you purchase through my links at no extra cause to you.


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Breastfeeding And Infant Loss: Best Practices for Lactation Control


There is hope for you after infant loss with lactation decisions

Losing a baby is described as a major life event. It is a sad phenomena that has been lurking our societies for many years. This post is to address this issue and also give you some practical ways of coping, as you suppress your milk supply and come to terms with why you need to do this. We hope that it will answer some of your questions along the way.

Losing a baby is never easy and I would personally like to say I am so sorry for what you are going or had to go through as a result of it. I pray God continue to strengthen and keep you always. Some women can experience leaking breasts after 16-18 weeks of losing their baby . with breast milk coming in to the breasts a few days later.

This is because the arrival of milk is driven by the drop in hormones following the delivery of the placenta—irrespective of whether a mother planned to breastfeed or not. A mother may not have anticipated the presence of breast milk and may find it very upsetting. While some mothers will want to stop lactation as soon as possible after stillbirth, miscarriage or loss of a baby, others may take comfort in pumping and donating breast milk. However your body responds, it is helpful if you, and those around you, understand how to manage the physical and emotional challenges that this can bring.

Here is a list of things you can do to make lactation easier and more comfortable for you:

Express Enough to Stay Comfortable: Wear a Well Fitted Bra

Your bra should be comfortable with no wiring!

For most bereaved mothers, when their milk comes in, they begin the very difficult process of helping their body to stop producing milk. You may be surprised by the sudden engorgement you will feel when your milk comes in, and how quickly you may become physically uncomfortable. In the past, mothers were told to wear a very tight bra, or bind their breasts to help to cease milk production. I do not recommend this
practice, as it can be very painful, can lead to infection, and does not substantially affect the decrease in milk production. We recommend
wearing a bra that is supportive but does not restrict your circulation. (PAID LINK)

Make Good Use Of Your Shower

Showering is a great tool to express milk to comfort
  • Stand in a hot shower and let the water run over your breasts. This can stimulate some milk release and help you to feel less full. Sit in a warm bath and lean into the water. This will allow some milk to leak out. Express just enough milk, by hand or with abreast pump, to make yourself feel more comfortable. To hand express, hold your breast with your fingers a few inches back from the areola. Push your hand back toward
    the chest wall, then roll your fingers forward toward the nipple, taking care not to slide yourfingers over the skin. Wear a comfortable but supportive bra that does not restrict your circulation.
  • Use breast pads to soak up any leaking milk. Change them as they become wet.
  • Relieve pain and swelling by putting cold/gel packs in your bra, or use cold compresses after a shower or bath.
  • Cold cabbage leaves worn inside the bra can also be soothing. Wash and dry the leaves before use and cut out any large, bumpy veins. Keep them in the fridge as they need to be cold. Change the leaves every 2 hours or when they become limp. Continue using the leaves until the breasts stop feeling overfull. Cold compresses (e.g. frozen peas in a damp cloth or chilled cabbage leaves) held against painful areas of the breast for twenty minutes at a time can reduce any pain or inflammation. There is some evidence that cabbage leaves may be better than cool gel packs for reducing engorgement1.
  • Be gentle with your breasts:
  • Handle your breasts very gently as they can bruise easily.
  • Whenever your breasts feel too full, express a little milk. Express only enough to make you comfortable.
  • Use your prescribed pain killers:
  • Mild painkiller medications may help relieve pain. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
  • Stay hydrated:
  • Drink when you are thirsty. Cutting down fluids will not help reduce your milk supply.
  • Rest when you feel like:
  • For the first few days you may be uncomfortable lying in bed because your breasts are so full. Try lying on your back or on one side with an extra pillow supporting your breasts. If you like to lie on your front, place a pillow under your hips and stomach to ease the pressure on your breasts. Place a soft towel or cloth nappy across your breasts to soak up any leaking milk.
  • Discuss with your doctor drugs to help suppress your milk:
  • There are some prescribed drugs that have been used to suppress lactation. Talk over the pros and cons of using lactation suppression drugs with your doctor before making a decision about whether they are necessary in your case.

Use Sage And Other Herbs To Help Suppress Milk Production

Sage: Effective for Reducing Milk Supply

This is best used only if you are in the process of weaning, though it may also be used in extreme cases of oversupply when the usual measures are not effective. Be careful with this if you are not in the weaning process! Don’t overdo it once you’re seeing some results.

To use dried sage (Salvia officinalis) for reducing milk supply, take 1/4 teaspoon of sage 3x per day for 1-3 days. You can mix the sage in vegetable juice (for example, V-8), but it won’t mix well into other juices. You can also mix it into other foods or a broth. If you don’t like the taste of sage, try putting it into a tiny piece of sandwich and swallowing it whole – peanut butter or something else a bit sticky seems to work best for holding the sage in place. Tear off the corner of the sandwich containing the sage (it should be a very small section) and swallow it without chewing (that’s why you need a very small section). To use sage tea for decreasing milk supply, infuse 1 tablespoon of dried sage in 1 cup of boiling water. Steep for 5-15 minutes. Drink 1 cup, 2 – 6 times per day.

Jasmine: Great For Decreasing Milk Flow

Another effective treatment is to apply fresh, crushed jasmine flowers (Jasminum sambac) to the breasts to decrease milk flow. A study has shown this to be effective: Shrivastav P, George K, Balasubramaniam N, Jasper MP, Thomas M, Kanagasabhapathy AS. Suppression of puerperal lactation using jasmine flowers (Jasminum sambac). Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 1988 Feb;28(1):68-71.

Other Herbs

Other herbs that can decrease milk supply: Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Spearmint, Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), Chickweed, Black Walnut, stinging nettles (not nettle – that increases milk supply), Yarrow, Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum), Lemon Balm, Oregano, Periwinkle Herb (Vinca minor), Sorrel (Rumex acetosa).

Sage, peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, oregano, and cabbage leaves can all be incorporated into a pressed oil (cold pressed or hot) to make massage oils for milk suppression.

Most mothers will be able to suppress their lactation by limiting the volume of milk removed, wearing a firm bra, using cold packs or cabbage leaves and medication for pain and inflammation if required.

What To Look Out For After Having Baby

Milk leakage

At times, you may experience milk leaking from your breasts during the lactation suppression process. Here are some tips to help with leaking breasts:

  • Use breast pads. (PAID LINK). Avoid any breast pads that hold moisture against the skin. Make sure your bra is roomy enough to hold whatever sort of pad you choose without putting pressure on your breasts. If you wear your bra to bed, take care that it doesn’t dig in when you are lying down as this may lead to blocked milk ducts.
  • Stop the flow when necessary. If your milk starts to leak out strongly (ie your milk ‘lets down’) you can stop the overflow by pressing firmly on your nipple with your hand or forearm for several seconds.

Engorgement (painful, overfull breasts)

Breast engorgement is breast swelling that results in painful, tender breasts. It’s caused by an increase in blood flow and milk supply in your breasts, and it occurs in the first days after childbirth. If your breasts become engorged and the ideas given above do not ease your discomfort, it may help to express all the milk in the breasts, just once, with an electric breast pump. This can relieve the pressure and from then on, you may be able to prevent it building up to that point again.

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Certain conditions or events may make you more likely to experience the swollen fullness that’s commonly associated with breast engorgement. These causes include:

  • missing a feeding
  • skipping a pumping session
  • creating an overabundance of milk for the baby’s appetite
  • supplementing with formula between nursing sessions, which may reduce nursing later
  • weaning too quickly
  • nursing a baby that’s ill
  • difficulty with latching and sucking
  • not expressing breast milk when it first comes in because you don’t plan to breastfeed.

How to resolve this issue:

Applying a cold compress or ice pack to relieve pain and swelling.

Excellent treatment for engorged breasts
  • Use of cabbage as above

Remember to wear a firm bra and express only for comfort as vigorous pumping can increase your milk supply.

Blocked ducts and mastitis

When breasts are left very full, there is a risk that one or more of the ducts that carry milk to the nipple will become blocked. A lump forms and the breast begins to feel sore. Sometimes there is a red patch on the skin or the breast may feel hot which will appear as tender and painful lumps in your breast, or a breast infection which would manifest itself in a tender, reddened area and would be accompanied by a fever or chills.

If the blockage remains, milk can be forced out of the duct and into the breast tissue, which becomes inflamed. You may get the shivers and aches and feel like you are getting the ‘flu’. This is called mastitis and can come on very quickly. See your doctor if you get the flu-like symptoms or if you cannot clear a blockage within a few days. If this happens, you will need to express more milk than usual to clear the blockage. If mastitis is not treated, a breast abscess may develop. Thank goodness, these are now quite rare. Should either of these conditions present, contact your doctor, midwife or a lactation consultant for further assistance. Getting help as soon as possible decreases your risk of more complications.

What If I Want To Sustain My Breast Milk?

I understand that not all mothers want to express their breast milk after the loss of their baby and this is fine. This actually can help some mothers to better grieve for their baby.

Some mothers may not want to suppress their milk production after the loss of their baby. These mothers may appreciate the time expressing gives them to connect with and grieve for their baby. Mothers may want to continue to express their milk for days, weeks or even months. You can express as often each day as you like for as long as it suits you. The lactational amenorrhea method is an accepted and effective method of family planning and is a factor which may be relevant for some mothers to consider when expressing. Avoiding significant and sudden changes to your expressing regime can help reduce the risk of your breasts becoming engorged and blocked ducts.

When you decide to wean from expressing, doing so gradually (eg by dropping one expressing session every few days or so) can help your breasts adjust more comfortably. For tips of expressing and storing breastmilk, see Expressing and storing breastmilk.

There may be stores of your frozen milk at home or in the hospitalIf you have frozen breastmilk stored in the hospital, you can approach the hospital staff to make decisions about what to do with these frozen stores of milk such as to discard it, keep it as a memento or donate it (if possible).

Some women have used their breastmilk in an activity or item to help create a memory. For example defrosting it and pouring it on a special plant in the garden, using it to make breastmilk jewelry, burying some milk with the baby, using breastmilk as a symbol in the funeral service, donating it. You do not have to make these decisions quickly. You can keep your milk in a freezer and take it with you if you move house.

Hormonal birth control pills and certain decongestant medication : Reduces Breast Milk

Decongestants can reduce your milk supply

There are some birth control and decongestants (sudafed)that (containing pseudoephedrine) can also reduce a milk supply in some mothers. For further information about using any of these drugs to dry up breast milk consult with your doctor.

What About Milk Banking And Donation? Another Option

Breast milk donation is another option

Some bereaved mothers find that the presence of milk is upsetting and want to eliminate it as quickly as possible, while other mothers find
the milk to be a comforting reminder of their body’s ability to care for the baby they so love and had wished to care for. There is no right or wrong way to feel. It is your choice to follow. If a mother is interested in pumping and donating breast milk she can find her nearest milk bank in the country where she lives. When you decide to stop donating milk, you can gradually pump less often and for shorter pumping times over a period of a couple of weeks. In this way your breasts will adjust naturally so that the production of breast milk can come to a gradual end without engorgement.

Take One Day At A Time

It can take a long time to recover from the death of a baby. There will be times when you feel you have made some headway, only to fall back into the deep sadness of it all. You may find it hard to get to sleep or you may wake often. This is quite normal.

This is the time to be kind to yourself. Talking with others who have also have lost a baby may give you support and some comfort. Details of support groups are listed below. (PAID LINK)

Helpful resources

There are many other support websites that a mother or her supporters may find helpful including Glow in the Woods and Still Standing Magazine.

Bottom Line

Whatever decision you make concerning your lactation Mama is totally up to you. I hope you are able to remain as comfortable as possible. As you grieve I want you to know that God loves you. Ask Him to stay with you during this hard journey. Find family and friends who support and love you. Thank you for stopping by today. Do visit again. I wish you a happy, healthy, and successful breastfeeding journey. Here is a video that talks about breastfeeding and infant loss. Let me know if you’ve ever tried these methods out and how they worked out for you.(PAID LINK)

Great treatments for drying up your milk!

Breastfeeding: Easy Tips On Improving your Chances Of Success!


breast feeding1

Lets Learn Breastfeeding Basics

 

Never Give Up! If breastfeeding is what you want to do for your baby do not give up. Initiate breastfeeding with your baby as soon as possible and do not give up readily. A good mindset before baby arrives is necessary to believe that it is possible for you. You can learn as much as you can by seeking help from the experts; like a Midwife, or Lactation specialist.

MAKE YOUR OWN BREASTFEEDING DECISION!

You will hear many different views of breastfeeding, both positive and negative. Look deep within yourself and decide what is it YOU want. I always felt deep down inside that choosing to breastfeed is the best choice for my babies. Your may feel otherwise and that is perfectly fine. You see breastfeeding is a personal decision. We all have different backgrounds and situations which means we should choose what is best for our lifestyle. Whatever you decide is the right decision because you made it for yourself. If you choose to breastfeed, there are a few things you should do:

1.Become well informed about breastfeeding through information through a lactation consultant, attend a breastfeeding class, or healthcare provider’s office .

2. Talk to your care provider about your decision

3. If you are in doubt or have any problems, questions, concerns get the advice you need from your healthcare provider.

4. Have a positive mindset about breastfeeding & be prepared to overcome any challenges.


When you are in hospital to have your baby, you must make it known to your doctor or Midwife know that you wish to breast feed immediately after your baby is born. In fact, I would suggest that you make it known during your antenatal follow-up that you would like to breastfeed your baby within the first hour. I have seen where this works. After breastfeeding during the first hour, I would take the baby away so that I could assist the mum in cleaning up. When I bring the baby back to mum baby would immediately latch on every time.


On a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is the recommended way of feeding infants, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond

To enable mothers to establish and sustain exclusive breastfeeding for six months, WHO and UNICEF recommend:

  • Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life;
  • Exclusive breastfeeding – that is, the infant only receives breastmilk without any additional food or drink, not even water;
  • Breastfeeding on demand – that is, as often as the child wants, day and night;
  • No use of bottles, teats or pacifiers
Breastfeeding on Demand is the way to go!

HOW MUCH MILK DOES MY BABY NEED?

Babies’ stomach are small. It doesn’t take much to fill your baby up, but you’ll need to feed your newborn baby a lot: 8-12 times in a 24-hour period. Feeding your baby that often will be good for your baby. It will also tell your body to keep making milk.


How do you know if your baby is getting enough milk? One of the easiest signs is to pay attention to what’s coming out the other end. The color, texture, and frequency of poops and wet diapers will tell you a lot. Other signs that your baby is getting enough milk may include:

  • Your baby is satisfied and content after feedings.
  • Your breasts may feel softer after feedings.
  • Your baby breastfeeds at least 8 to 12 times every 24 hours, including at night.
  • Your baby is gaining weight.

How much milk your baby needs will change as baby grows, and your body will adjust to those changes. If your baby has a growth spurt, your baby might want to nurse more often or for longer periods of time. Your body will adjust to that, too.

The important thing is to nurse as long and as often as your baby wants and to let your baby eat until full.

HOW IS MILK MADE?

During pregnancy, your breasts start getting ready to make milk. As milk making tissues rapidly grow, you may notice your breasts become fuller and more tender. After you have your baby, pregnancy hormones lower which then helps the lactation hormone, prolactin, to be released.  Prolactin sends a message that tells your breasts to make milk. Both your hormones and your baby’s suckling cause your breasts to make milk. The more your baby nurses, the more milk you make.

When your baby suckles, another hormone, oxytocin, sends a message that tells the small muscles in your breast to contract. This muscle contraction moves the milk through the milk ducts. This is called the let-down reflex. It releases the milk into your milk ducts so you can breastfeed your baby.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COLOSTRUM AND BREAST MILK?

There are three phases of breast milk. Each one is vital to nourishing your baby.

  • Colostrum. This is the first milk produced by the breast right after birth. It is thick, yellow-ish, and rich in nutrients your baby needs in the first few hours and days. Colostrum is amazing, because your baby only needs a little at a time but it is very powerful because of its rich nutrients.
  • Transitional milk. When mature breast milk starts to replace colostrum, it is called transitional milk. This is often what’s called “your milk coming in,” and it usually happens in your first week at home with the baby.
  • Mature milk. Mature milk looks thinner than colostrum but is still full of nutrients for baby. It starts about 10-15 days after birth. Mature milk will continue to change with your baby’s needs and tummy.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE FIRST FEW FEEDINGS?

You should feed your baby between 8-12 times within 24 hours. There is no set time for feedings. They may be 15-20 minutes per breast. They may be shorter or longer. Your baby will let you know when he or she is finished feeding. Your baby’s eating patterns may change from day to day. Just follow your baby’s lead, and that will help you build your milk supply.

Try feeding your baby on the fuller breast first until your baby releases the nipple or falls asleep. Then burp your baby and offer the other breast. Some babies feed from both breasts at each feeding, while other babies are satisfied after one breast. When your breasts feel full, it is important to nurse your baby. That will keep your breasts from becoming overfull or engorged.

HOW DO WE SUPPORT BREASTFEEDING?

Breastfeeding is a priority at Maternal Treasures and Breastfed is Best Academy. We understand just how challenging breastfeeding can be, and we are dedicated to supporting your breastfeeding journey. To help our moms, we provide education and breastfeeding counseling, as well as referrals to other health and social services. If you need help in any of these services feel free to contact us our email-maternaltreasures2018@gmail.com or 32413191


Family is important when it comes to breastfeeding. It takes time, practice, patience—and teamwork. Support goes a long way, and that includes your family, especially your partner. I hope you are able to have great support if you decide to breastfeed. Recognizing that their role is crucial will help you to overcome many challenges, including their friendship. This is best done breastfeeding before your baby arrives. This will give you time to learn, prepare, and plan together.

Family Support is so important in the Breastfeeding Journey!

Within minutes of your baby’s birth, contractions cause your uterus to shrink, its crisscrossed fibers tightening just like they did during labor. These contractions also help the placenta detach from the uterine wall.

After the placenta is delivered, uterine contractions close off the open blood vessels where the placenta was attached. You may feel cramps, known as afterpains, as this happens.

How does my uterus change after delivery?

Within minutes of your baby’s birth, contractions cause your uterus to shrink, its crisscrossed fibers tightening just like they did during labor. These contractions also help the placenta detach from the uterine wall.

After the placenta is delivered, uterine contractions close off the open blood vessels where the placenta was attached. You may feel cramps, known as afterpains, as this happens. 

For the first couple of days after giving birth, you’ll be able to feel the top of your uterus in the area of your belly button. In a week, your uterus weighs a little over a pound – half of what it weighed just after you gave birth. After two weeks, it’s down to a mere 11 ounces and located entirely within your pelvis. By about four weeks, it should be close to its pre-pregnancy weight of 3.5 ounces or less. This process is called involution of the uterus.

How much weight will I lose right after giving birth?

About 12 pounds. You’ll lose 7 or 8 pounds for the baby, about a pound of placenta, and another few pounds of blood and amniotic fluid.

You probably won’t return to your pre-pregnancy weight for some time, but you’ll continue to lose weight during the postpartum period as your body eliminates all the extra water your cells retained during pregnancy, along with fluid from the extra blood you had in your pregnant body.

So in the first days after you give birth, you’ll produce more urine than usual – an astounding 3 quarts a day. You may perspire a lot, too. By the end of the first week, it’s likely that you’ll lose about 4 to 6 pounds of water weight. (The amount varies depending on how much water you retained during pregnancy.)

Why do I still look pregnant?

Even after your uterus shrinks back to its normal size, you may continue to look pregnant for several weeks or even months. That’s because your abdominal muscles get stretched out during pregnancy, and it takes time – and regular exercise – to get your belly back in shape. (And keep in mind that some women may never be able to get rid of their “pregnancy pouch” entirely.)

How come I can’t tell when I need to pee?

Labor and delivery can take a toll on your bladder, causing some temporary swelling and loss of sensitivity. For the first days after you give birth, you may not feel an urge to pee, especially if you had a prolonged labor, a forceps or vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery, or an epidural. This is also more likely if you had a catheter during labor to help you urinate and keep your bladder from overfilling.

But after delivery, your bladder fills up rapidly with all the extra fluid your kidneys are processing, so it’s essential to try to urinate frequently, even if you don’t feel the urge. If too much urine accumulates in your bladder, you might have a hard time making it to the toilet without leaking. What’s more, your bladder could become overly distended. This can cause urinary problems and also makes it harder for your uterus to contract, leading to more afterpains and heavier bleeding.

If you can’t pee within a few hours after giving birth, you’ll need to have a catheter put in to drain the urine from your bladder. (If you deliver by c-section, you’ll have a urinary catheter for the surgery, which will remain in place for a short while after delivery.)

Let your nurse know if you’re having difficulty urinating, or if you’re only producing a small amount of urine when you pee. If your bladder gets too full, it can actually keep you from being able to urinate.

Will my vagina and perineum ever get back to normal?

If you give birth vaginally, your vagina will probably remain a little larger than it was before.

Right after delivery, your vagina is stretched open and may be swollen and bruised. Over the next few days, any swelling starts to go down, and your vagina begins to regain muscle tone. In the next few weeks, it will gradually get smaller. Doing Kegel exercises regularly helps restore muscle tone.

If you had a small tear in your perineum that did not require stitches, it should heal quickly and cause little discomfort. If you had an episiotomy or a significant tear, your perineum needs time to heal, so wait to start having sex again until you get your provider’s okay at your postpartum checkup. If you continue to have tenderness in that area, delay intercourse until you feel ready. (In the meantime, decide which method of contraception you want to use.)

When you do feel ready (both physically and emotionally) to have sex again, be sure to go slowly: You’ll probably find that you have less vaginal lubrication than you did when you were pregnant, due to lower levels of estrogen. This dryness may be even more pronounced if you’re breastfeeding because nursing tends to keep estrogen levels down. This can make intercourse painful at first, but using a lubricant is a big help.

Be sure to buy a water-based lubricant, especially if you’re using a barrier method of contraception. (Oil-based lubricants can weaken latex, which can cause a condom to break or ruin a diaphragm.)

What’s this vaginal discharge?

It’s normal to have vaginal discharge, or lochia, for a month or two after you give birth. Lochia consists of blood, bacteria, and sloughed-off tissue from the lining of the uterus.

For the first few days after birth, lochia contains a fair amount of blood, so it will be bright red and look like a heavy menstrual period. You’ll probably have a bit less discharge each day, and by two to four days after you’ve given birth, the lochia will be more watery and pinkish in color.

By about 10 days after you’ve given birth, you’ll have only a small amount of white or yellow discharge, which will taper off over the next two to four weeks. Some women may continue to have scant lochia or intermittent spotting for a few more weeks.

The first breastfeeding sessions may cause some abdominal cramping because your baby’s suckling stimulates the release of oxytocin – a hormone that triggers uterine contractions.

And when your milk comes in, usually two to three days after you give birth, your breasts may get swollen, tender, and hard. They also may throb and feel uncomfortably full. This is called engorgement, and it should get better in a day or two. advertisement | page continues below

Nursing your baby often is the best thing you can do for relief. (Frequent nursing from the start is sometimes enough to prevent engorgement altogether.) For other suggestions, check out our advice on treating engorgement. If these measures don’t help and your baby seems to be having trouble latching on correctly, talk to your provider or a lactation consultant.

If double pumping is difficult to coordinate in the beginning, then single pump, alternating sides. Move to double pumping as soon as you can.

What will it be like if I’m not breastfeeding?

You’ll still begin to produce milk if you’re not breastfeeding, and your breasts will become engorged a few days after you give birth. This may cause considerable discomfort that can last for several days. The pain tends to peak three to five days after you give birth, and it can take several weeks for your milk to dry up completely.

In the meantime, wear a supportive bra around the clock, and put cold packs on your breasts to ease swelling and inhibit milk production. (Be sure to cover the cold packs with cloth to protect your skin.)

You can also take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief, and if you’re extremely uncomfortable, express just enough milk to make the situation more tolerable. However, this may prolong the process because stimulating your nipples and draining your breasts signals your body to make more milk. And don’t apply warmth to your breasts either because this can also encourage milk production.

Why am I losing my hair?

If your hair got thicker during your pregnancy, it may now start to shed in handfuls. This happens to some new moms in the first few months after having their baby. Don’t worry – you won’t go bald. advertisement | page continues below

During pregnancy, high estrogen levels may prolong your hair’s growing phase, causing less to fall out than usual. After you give birth, your estrogen levels plummet, and you begin to shed more. Over time (usually within a year or so), the rate of new growth and shedding will return to what it once was.

On the bright side, if you developed excess facial and body hair during pregnancy (the result of a rise in hormones called androgens), it’s likely you will lose most of that hair within six months after having your baby.

What’s going on with my skin?

Hormonal changes, stress, and the fatigue brought on by new parenthood may affect your skin along with the rest of your body. Some women who had perfectly clear skin during pregnancy will have more breakouts in the months following delivery. On the other hand, if you had acne during pregnancy, you may begin to see some improvement now.

Also, if you have chloasma (darkened patches of skin on your lips, nose, cheeks, or forehead), or a dark line running from your belly button to your public bone, the discoloration will begin to fade in the months after giving birth. It will probably go away completely as long as you protect your skin from the sun.

Any stretch marks you developed will gradually become lighter in color, although they won’t disappear entirely.

How to establish and maintain milk supply when baby is not breastfeeding

By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC

It is important to express your milk to establish and maintain milk supply if your baby is not nursing at all or not nursing well. By expressing, you will also have your milk available to feed baby – every bit of moms’ milk that baby gets (even the tiniest amount) is like liquid gold.

When should mom start pumping?

  • If baby does not nurse immediately postpartum, mom should begin pumping within 6 hours of baby’s birth — starting early makes a difference for future milk production.

What pump is best?

  • If baby is not nursing, seriously consider renting a hospital-grade pump (a multiple-user double pump such as those made by Ameda, Hygeia or Medela) that will allow you to pump both breasts at the same time. A hospital-grade pump is the best choice for maintaining or increasing milk supply.
  • If you are not able to rent a hospital-grade pump, consider buying a pump (preferably a quality double pump) and/or hand expression.

How much milk should mom be pumping if baby is not nursing?

  • Aim for pumping 750-800 mL (25-27 oz) per day by 7-10 days postpartum. If you have twins or higher order multiples, aim for pumping 800-950 mL (27-32 oz) by 14 days postpartum.
  • It’s useful to evaluate mom’s 24 hour pumping output at 10 days. If supply is borderline (350-500 ml / 11-17 oz) or low (less than 350 ml / 11 oz), then galactagogues (prescription meds or herbs to increase supply) or other interventions should be considered.
  • The research tells us that milk production at 2 weeks is an indicator of breastfeeding outcome, so it is important to get a good start. Even if milk production doesn’t start out well, however, don’t get discouraged–many moms will see an increase (even as late as 9-15 weeks after birth) if they continue with regular pumping.

How often should mom pump?

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  • 8-10 times per day: Until supply is well established, it is important to get at least eight good nursing and/or pumping sessions per 24 hours. Ten sessions per day is better, particularly if you have twins or higher order multiples.
  • These sessions don’t need to be evenly spaced, but you should be nursing/pumping at least once during the night in the first few months or anytime you notice a decrease in supply. Avoid going longer than 5-6 hours without pumping during the first few months.
  • When pumping during the night, milk yield tends to be better if you pump when you naturally wake (to go to the bathroom or because your breasts are uncomfortably full) than if you set an alarm to wake for pumping.
  • If you are having a hard time getting in enough pumping sessions, adding even a short pumping session (increasing frequency even if milk is not removed thoroughly) is helpful.

How long should mom pump at each pumping session?

  • If baby does not nurse at all:
  • The first few days, before mom’s milk comes in, hand expression often the most effective way to express colostrum. Double pump for 10-15 minutes per session for additional stimulation.
  • Once mom’s milk is in, pump for 30 minutes per session, or for 2-5 minutes after the last drops of milk.
  • If baby nurses but does not soften the breast well
  • Double pump for 10-15 minutes after nursing.
  • Empty the breast as thoroughly as possible at each session. To ensure that the pump removes an optimum amount of milk from the breast, keep pumping for 2-5 minutes after the last drops of milk. Use breast massage prior to pumping, and massage and compressions during pumping to better empty the breasts and increase pumping output.

Additional tips

  • Rest & relax as much as possible.
  • Skin-to-skin (Kangaroo care) can make a significant difference in pumping output.
  • One study has shown that the moms of hospitalized babies who listened to guided relaxation or soothing music while pumping had an increased pumping output. When mom listened to a recording that included both music and guided relaxation while pumping, in addition to looking at photos of her baby,  pumping output was increased even more. In this study, the interventions led to moms producing 2-3 times their normal pumping output. Milk fat content also increased for these moms in the early days of the study. (Reference: Keith DR, Weaver BS, Vogel RL. The effect of music-based listening interventions on the volume, fat content, and caloric content of breast milk-produced by mothers of premature and critically ill infants. Adv Neonatal Care. 2012 Apr;12(2):112-9.)
  • If double pumping is difficult to coordinate in the beginning, then single pump, alternating sides. Move to double pumping as soon as you can.
  • Avoid any medications that might interfere with milk supply (hormonal birth control, pseudoephedrine, ethanol/alcoholic beverages, bromocriptine, ergotamine, cabergoline)
  • If supply is not increasing as expected by 7-10 days after birth, consider the use of galactagogues. Fenugreekmetoclopramide (Reglan) or domperidone (Motilium) can be helpful for increasing milk supply.

Thank you for visiting us today. I hope that your breastfeeding journey is a success. I have tried to give you many valuable tips that should help you along the journey. Please like , comment or ask a question if you would like to. Do visit again.