Having become a Mama at the end of last year, I have since developed an intense appreciation for the magic that is breastmilk. It can do no wrong, except when your little one (bless their cotton socks) decides they want to nurse ALL day and ALL night. On top of that, the breastfeeding journey can be a wave of overwhelming emotions for many new time mothers.
Carrying your child for 9 months does not prepare you for once they are here. Immediately post-birth, you suddenly realise that the beautiful babe in your arms relies solely on you. Many Mama's face latching issues, nipple pain, low or overflow of supply, touch aversion, long nights, lack of sleep, reflux, stress, self-sacrificing your body 24 hours a day to another, feeling inadequate or feeling like they are failing their babes.
Navigating motherhood is hard enough without these added stressors; this is where herbal support comes into play. Specifically calming and galactagogue herbs.
There are many forms of these magical herbs, and they can play many roles in nursing. Galactagogue herbs can stimulate breast milk production by supporting the building blocks of breast tissue and milk supply. These herbs are often highly nutritious, with rich sources of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium. Some herbs balance out fluids within the body, and others have a calming effect. One of the biggest inhibitors of milk supply is stress and anxiety, which many mothers face, especially new mothers.
After much trial and error throughout my own postpartum and breastfeeding experience, I've found these particular herbs to be wonderfully synergistic in supporting nursing mothers. Many of the herbs below act as galactagogues (milk supporting + producing) and gut soothing, helping colicky babies, feelings of indigestion, bloating and gas buildup.
Used for thousands of years to support breastfeeding and is abundant in minerals, vitamins & antioxidants. Scientifically proven to increase milk supply, energy & boosted immunity.
- 15 x potassium found in a banana
- 10 x vitamin A as a carrot
- 9 x protein of yogurt
- 17 x calcium found in milk
- 25 x iron in spinach
Dried Goat's Rue is a potent galactagogue. Known for its remarkable ability to build breast tissue and increase breast milk production.
A galactagogue herb supporting a healthy milk supply, rich in minerals and antioxidants. It's also a carminative and anti-spasmodic herb (soothes muscle spasms + aches) common in babies struggling with colic, wind, gassy tummies & indigestion.
A potent nutrient-dense & strengthening herb, rich in iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin K essential for postpartum recovery. Promotes balanced energy & healthy breast milk supply.
Supports milk supply while nourishing breast milk with its high vitamin c, calcium, potassium & magnesium content. Also acts as a calming herb & gut aid with its anti-spasmodic actions easing colic, wind & indigestion in bubs.
Supports stressed out, tired mums. A key inhibitor of milk supply is stress and anxiety, so it's important that breastfeeding blends also contain calming herbs (not sedating) that support healthy stress responses, anxiety & nervous tension.
What you might notice is one common herb, Fenugreek, is missing. Fenugreek is a well-known milk supporter that does deliver impressive results. However, I have chosen not to include it for a couple reasons. The first being that sometimes it can work a little too well! Causing oversupply leading to engorgement and, at times, mastitis. For the first few months, a mothers breastmilk can be unpredictable at times, especially while establishing feeding techniques, and overstimulation of supply can cause more harm than good. The second reason is that, although a powerful herb, some women (myself included) have reported gastrointestinal upsets when consuming Fenugreek. When you have a colicky baby, it's not the best combination. With that said, it's still a fantastic herb, and I encourage any woman struggling with a deficient milk supply to reach out to a lactation consultant or naturopath/herbalist to look at concentrated herbs for a more significant therapeutic result (which may include Fenugreek).
The second herb I have chosen not to include is Chamomile. Now I love Chamomile; it's thought to be one of the safest and gentle herbs for children (in most cases, it is). However, a small minority of people react to the Asteraceae family (chamomile plant family), and my little girl is one of those very few sensitive to it. Therefore I have left it out.
Instead, I have included Lemon Balm to tie my nurturing blend together. Lemon Balm is a wonderfully safe herb with a delicate mint flavour. It's the perfect herb to support tired, stressed out mums while also supporting gut health (necessary when your bub has colic, indigestion and/or wind).
Care is essential during your breastfeeding journey, not just for your little one's sake but for yourself. A happy nourished mother = happy bub. There are many forms of support, herbs just being one of many. I encourage any mama struggling to reach out in their community; help and support are always available.
Now, I feel it's important to say this, breastfeeding issues/low milk supply can happen for many reasons. Herbs can be an excellent support system and, in many cases, might be all a mother needs on her journey. However, that doesn't mean they will work for everyone. If you are struggling with feeding or any part of postpartum/motherhood, please seek help sooner rather than later.