NATURAL REMEDIES FOR PROBLEMS IN BREASTFEEDING
~Susun S Weed
With the resurgence of interest in breastfeeding, there is increasing
demand for natural remedies for the minor problems that accompany nursing.
These remedies, taken from my book Wise
Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, offer simple,
safe ways for nursing women and their infants to counter problems and
stay healthy. This information has been collected from wise women, old
wives, and granny midwives. May you benefit from their wisdom.
INCREASING AND MAINTAINING MILK FLOW
One of the easiest problems to remedy is lack of sufficient milk. First,
it is important to see to it that nursing takes place in a safe, inviting
space where both mom and babe can be relaxed. Second, try to include
one or more of these herbs and foods that are well known galactagogues,
that is, substances that encourage abundant breast milk.
~ Nourishing herbs, such as raspberry leaves, stinging nettle, oatstraw,
and red clover blossoms—prepared as strong infusions*, not taken
in pills, capsules, tinctures, or teas—not only encourage a plentiful
supply of breast milk; they also support the overall health of mother
and child. The minerals in these herbs are amazingly abundant, so they
counter mineral loss from nursing, and help keep mom calm and alert
during those first few weeks of round-the-clock infant care. I don't
combine the herbs but use them individually,to derive each one’s
*To make an infusion:
~ Place one ounce, by weight, of dried herb in a quart canning jar.
~ Fill to the top with boiling water.
~ Lid tightly and let steep for at least four hours or overnight.
~ Then strain.
~ Drink liquid portion hot, cold, or in between.
~ Refrigerate what you don't consume at once; use within 48 hours. (Water
houseplants with old or excess infusion.)
~ Foods rich in carotenes, such as cooked apricots, asparagus, green
beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peas, and all cooked leafy
greens—including kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens,
parsley, watercress, and dandelion leaves—are considered critical
for women wishing to increase or sustain lactation. Carotenes are most
available when foods are well cooked: tomato sauce has over 2000 times
more of them than a fresh tomato. And carotenes are more easily utilized
in the body when consumed with plenty of fat. (Olive oil or butter are
my favorite fats.)
~ Blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) is famed for its ability to increase
milk supply. As the tea is very bitter, this herb is best used as a
tincture. A dose is 10 - 20 drops, two to four times daily. Blessed
thistle is said to lift postpartum depression and relieve suicidal feelings,
~ Borage leaves (Borago officinalis) are highly respected for their
ability to increase milk flow. But because they contain compounds that
may have a harmful effect on an infant's liver, it is best to drink
borage only as a weak tea, and to take it after, rather than before,
nursing. Half a cupful of borage leaf tea, made by steeping a spoonful
of herbs in a cup of water for a few minutes, taken two or three times
a day will ensure an abundant supply of milk, act as a mild laxative,
and soothe jangled nerves.
~ Comfrey roots (Symphytum uplandica x) contain the same liver-damaging
compounds sometimes found in borage. But comfrey leaves do not. That's
a relief because comfrey leaf infusion is one of the most treasured
of all remedies. Use comfrey leaf infusion (*”To make an infusion”
above) not only to increase the amount and richness of the breast milk,
but also to build strong bones and teeth for mother and child, to improve
digestion, to check allergies, and to repair ligaments, muscles, or
other tissues traumatized during the birth. I love comfrey leaf infusion
and drink it freely.
~ Fennel/barley water is a tried-and-true classic. Soak one-half cup
pearled (regular) barley in three cups cold water overnight, or boil
the barley and water for 25 minutes. Strain out barley. (You may save
it and add it to a soup.) Store barley water in refrigerator or cool
place until needed. Then heat a cup or two to boiling and add fennel
seeds—one teaspoon per cup of barley water. Steep for no longer
than 30 minutes. This combination not only increases the breast milk
but also eases after-pains and settles the digestion of Mom and babe.
~ Hops (Humulus lupulus) is another old remedy. It is especially for
mothers of twins who need lots more milk. Hops tea is a suitable accompaniment
to nighttime feedings, as it brings sleep along with increased milk
flow. Hops is also used in beer, which tastes better than the tea. No
more than one high-quality, additive-free beer, such as Guiness Stout,
per day is fine. For those who wish to avoid alcohol, there are alcohol-free
brews rich in hops and malt available.
~ Aromatic seeds, such as anise, cumin, fennel, caraway, coriander,
and dill increase milk production and tone the digestive system. Their
powers are carried through the breast milk, curtailing colic and indigestion.
To brew, simply put a heaping spoonful of dried seeds in a cup and fill
to the top with boiling water. Let steep for 5-10 minutes. Drink warm
with honey. Up to two quarts a day can be consumed.
~ Triple Blessing Brew. Combine 1/2 ounce dried blessed thistle leaves
with 1/2 ounce dried oatstraw or nettle. Place in a quart jar. Add boiling
water until the jar is full. Cap tightly and let steep overnight or
for at least four hours. Strain out herbs. Refrigerate liquid until
needed. Before nursing, pour off one cupful of the brew and heat it
nearly to a boil. Pour it over a teaspoon of anise, cumin, fennel, caraway,
coriander, or dill seeds (not a spoonful of each). Let it brew for five
minutes before drinking. Blessed thistle stimulates the milk flow and
helps restore vitality to weary mothers. Both oatstraw and nettle are
rich sources of vitamins and minerals, notably calcium, magnesium, and
potassium. The aromatic seeds improve the quality and quantity of milk
and ease digestion.
Part one of this article has shown you several ways to increase your
milk flow and your milk quality. Making and ingesting the right herbal
infusions and tinctures as well as the right seeds and foods likely
will lead to a happier, more satiated baby. In part two of this article,
you will learn numerous simple and safe ways to allay sore breasts,
infections, engorgements, and sore nipples due to breastfeeding.
Author: Susun S. Weed. Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $17.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com
NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way
Author: Susun S. Weed. The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Introduction by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $16.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com For excerpts visit: www.menopause-metamorphosis.com
Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
Author: Susun S. Weed. Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $21.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com
Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way
Publication date: June 21, 2011 Author: Susun S. Weed
Simple, successful, strategies cover the entire range of options -- from mainstream to radical -- to help you choose the best, and the safest, ways to optimize sexual and reproductive health.
Foreword: Aviva Romm, MD, midwife, 484 pages, Index, illustrations. Retails for $29.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com
Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with
a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopedic knowledge
of herbs and health. She is the voice of the Wise Woman Way, where common
weeds, simple ceremony, and compassionate listening support and nourish
health/wholeness/holiness. She has opened hearts to the magic and medicine
of the green nations for three decades. Ms. Weed's four herbal medicine
books focus on women's health topics including: menopause, childbearing,
and breast health. Visit her site www.susunweed.com for information on her workshops, apprenticeships, correspondence courses
and more! Browse the publishing site online at wisewomanbookshop.com to learn more about her alternative health books. Venture into the NEW
Menopause site www.menopause-metamorphosis.com to learn all about the Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.