Breastfeeding is when an infant receives only breast milk without additional water, foods and supplemental formulas.
For most women, breastfeeding proceeds with no difficulty and comes along with the constant supply of breast milk, along with comfort and ease for infant and mother.
On the another hand breast feeding can be difficult with varying challenges such as lack of adequate milk, pain, difficulty in getting the baby to suckle, fatigue, and medical problems of either baby and mother.
Epiphanie Mukamusoni is a 26 year-old mother living in Mushya sector, in Rwamagana district. She gave birth to twins two weeks ago but does not have breast milk to feed her babies.
“My babies look healthy and motivated to breast feed but I do not know how I can improve on my breast milk,” she says.
There are no specific foods to eat that will stimulate production of breast milk, but there are things that can help with milk production. More important than what you eat is how your baby eats.
When a baby is properly positioned, well attached and sucking effectively, the longer a baby nurses at the mother’s breast the more milk will be produced. This is the single most important way to increase the mother’s milk production.
From a diet and nutrition point of view, there are two important factors critical to producing milk. The first is drinking enough fluid. The fluid to take does not have to be milk only, but also water and juice is fine.
It is very important to take enough water during breast feeding periods. Drinking sufficient fluids may not make the mother produce more milk, but is important in replenishing lost fluids.
It should be noted that feeding a baby may take an extra 500 calories per day. Women that go on restricted diets in an attempt to lose weight while they are breast feeding may be eating too few calories, which leaves them fatigued and without the energy necessary for optimal milk production.
However, it should be noted that some drinks are not good for the mother to take during breast feeding periods. Beer is harmful to the baby’s life and babies too do not like to take alcoholic breast milk that in turn results less stimulation to the breast. Ultimately, this means a decrease in milk production.
Stress can negatively affect milk production. Mothers need to eliminate unnecessary chores, and perhaps relax the standards for tidiness.
Caffeine stimulates milk production, but the problem is that caffeine finds its way into breast milk and large amounts can affect the health of the baby. Caffeine stays in baby’s system longer than in an adult’s, which will prolong its effect. Caffeine can make the baby irritable as well as interfere with his sleep.
One cup of coffee or a soda is not a problem, but in large quantities for example five or more cups of a caffeinated beverage a day is not good.
The best prescription for maximum milk production is effective and frequent breastfeeding, drinking plenty of fluids, eating adequate calories and resting. Eating proteins is fundamental, as well as taking prenatal vitamins.
A mother’s milk does reflects the specific fatty acids found in her diet. Thus, a diet of healthy oils including fish, ground nuts, and cow’s milk is important.
Some herbs such as Fennel and Fenugreek have been proved to improve the breast milk supply. Fennel has the advantage of not only increasing the breast milk, but easing after pains and settling the digestion of the mother and the newborn, helping both to dispel gas and treat some diseases found with in intestines.
Fenugreek does not only improve lactation (breast feeding period) but also promotes digestion and stimulate the appetite, while also improving the taste of the milk.
Herbs known as nettles and raspberry that encourage a greater supply of breast milk and supply a source of trace minerals and vitamins to enrich the milk is necessary.
Additionally, herbs such as blessed thistle and borage seed oil and flower tops encourage the supply while helping the mother with postpartum moods and settling the nerves.
Blessed thistle is a bitter herb useful for liver and digestive problems as well as for increasing the flow and richness of milk. Hops can not only increase milk flow but also help to bring normal sleep for the infant.