Whilst breastfeeding can be hard, and there is no secret solution to success, there are some top tips that can support you and your body.
Supply and demand
The key to breastfeeding success is to increase demand for your milk - if your baby isn’t latching well, express milk whenever you can. It’ll help establish supply. Don’t panic if you don’t get as much milk as you think you should be - when your baby feeds, they can get a larger amount than you may realise, as they’re more effective than a breast pump. But supplementing the amount of milk your body makes, will increase the amount you make long term.
Set the right environment - it can be stressful trying to breastfeed your baby. It can help to be in a nice environment, with a breastfeeding pillow or cushions, to help how you hold your baby. Play music that makes you feel happy. Have skin on skin time. All these things should help increase your oxytocin levels, reduce stress, and make feeding slightly easier. It may feel easier said than done, so get someone to help set this up if you can.
Your body is magically creating milk and needs both hydration and calories to do this successfully. Make sure you eat regularly - it can be so easy to forget, and drink while the baby drinks. It’s recommended to have up to 3 litres of water a day when breastfeeding, and you can get this from herbal teas as well as water alone. Regular small, healthy snacks (and the occasional unhealthy) are great to keep you feeling as positive and happy as possible.
Ask for help
Talk to your health visitor about improving your babies latch if you’re having trouble, or if you want some immediate help, there are several help lines available here, and the Breastfeeding Support Network has both online and in-person support in some areas.
Whilst our Milk’s Up breastfeeding tea is not a miracle solution to all breastfeeding struggles, it can be a great natural support and way to hydrate. It’s blended using natural ingredients known as ‘galactagogues’, which have been used for millennia to support breastfeeding.
Some small scale modern research backs up this traditional use, with fenugreek being one as meta-analysis of studies showing that fenugreek ‘significantly increased’ breast milk production. This covered a total of 122 women, so is still small scale, but very promising.
Fennel has also been shown in small studies to help milk production and the fat content of milk.
We combine these studies with other ingredients that have been used traditionally, such as anise and nettle.
However, how all these galactagogues work is not known! Some people believe it is as they encourage the production of prolactin, which encourages breast milk, but the fennel studies don’t show a higher level of prolactin in women’s bodies. Others believe it’s because they increase estrogen levels, but again, there is no evidence of this in studies. All we know is that the studies show a benefit - not why!
But enjoying a hot (or ice cold) cuppa can hopefully give you these herbal benefits, whilst also keeping you hydrated and also increasing your oxytocin levels and calming you. Enjoy with a flapjack or oat cookie (oats are also believed to be natural galactagogues), and you have the most delicious way to support your breastfeeding journey.