Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Your health: Natural remedies to aid breastfeeding

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It's important not to be too hard on yourself; breastfeeding is hard and it takes a while to get the hang of. Photo / Getty
It's important not to be too hard on yourself; breastfeeding is hard and it takes a while to get the hang of. Photo / Getty

I am wondering what I can do to help with breastfeeding? I am expecting my first baby this month. - New mum

As a new mum you face so many challenges, breastfeeding being one of them. If you are planning to breastfeed, it is really important that your nutritional intake is from good quality food and fluids, to best support you and your new baby.

Not only are you the sole provider of your baby's nutritional intake, you are also recovering from pregnancy and birth. Your body is in a state of need and repair. So when feeding, it is very important to give yourself as much as support as possible.

Traditional plant medicine can help support breast milk production and also aid in ensuring high nutrition. In particular, the plants that act as galactogogues. These plants are used to stimulate an increase in milk production.

Unlike medication, most medicinal plants have added benefits such as calming properties to help manage stress or support digestive health. This is important as these effects can be passed on to your baby, reducing the chance of reflux or colic.

A specific breastfeeding tea could include the following plants:

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) supports the stimulation of breast milk production. Fennel is also a carminative plant which means that the volatile oils calm the digestive tract so can be a help with wind.

Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum) supports the normal flow of breast milk. It also helps to reduce and ease griping and wind issues.

Nettle (Urtica dioica) helps support milk production and also increases the nutrient quality of breast milk. Nettle is a highly nutritive plant, containing minerals and vitamins essential for both you and your baby.

A helpful idea is to make up a flask of tea in the morning and have that with you throughout your day in easy reach. It will help keep you hydrated and also help you with your milk supply.

It is important not to be too hard on yourself, breastfeeding is hard and it takes a while to get the hang of. So if you are having issues contact a lactation specialist, your GP or Plunket sooner rather than later as they are there to help.

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Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Sandra Clair is the founder of Artemis (artemis.co.nz) offering New Zealanders a premium range of traditional plant medicine products. She is one of New Zealand’s most highly qualified health professionals in her field, as a Swiss trained medical herbalist and a medical anthropologist (M.A.). Sandra is currently completing a PhD in health science at the University of Canterbury in collaboration with the Chair for Natural Medicine of the University of Zürich, Switzerland.

Read more by Sandra Clair

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