Better Breastfeeding

By Kate from Little Yarrow  

Breastfeeding can be surprisingly challenging for many mothers with lots of potential ailments that can come up in the early days such as painful cracked nipples (this is often due to repeated poor latch), blocked ducts, mastitis and low milk supply. Fortunately herbal and nutritional medicine is great for helping these issues and there are many great herbs and supplements that are safe to use to treat the following!

Low Milk Supply – Some effective ways to boost milk supply include feeding your baby on demand or using a pump to increase supply (the more demand the greater the supply). Foods such as oatmeal, barley soups and stews plus plenty of water (aim for 2-3lt per day). Increasing skin to skin contact and ensuring baby is latching properly are also important.

Because stress can can interfere with the let down reflex it is important to encourage relaxation, you can do this with herbs such as Motherwort, Hops and Chamomile.

Specific herbs for increasing milk supply, known as ‘Galactagogues’ include Anise, Fennel, Dill, Fenugreek, Goats Rue, Carraway and Blessed Thistle. In many cultures gifting cookies made with these herbs is a post partum tradition. 

Cracked Nipples – Very common during the early weeks is cracked and painful nipples which I remember oh so well from the first time. Using gentle herbs to decrease inflammation, infection and aid healing include salves made from Calendula, Almond Oil, Cocoa Butter and Coconut Oil. Ti Tree oil diluted in water or carrier oil is also great if there is infection present. The best time to apply herbal topical applications is after each feed, ensuring you wipe it off before the next feed.

Blocked Duct – This can be very painful but relieved with a potato poultice using fresh grated potato wrapped in muslin cloth and applied to the affected area three times per day (replace with fresh potato when it gets warm), gentle massage at the affected site, alternate heat packs before feeds and cool packs after feeds, empty breast regularly, avoid tight fitting bras and run hot water of breasts in the shower whilst massaging and expressing just enough to give relief.

Mastitis – Mastitis is similar to a blocked duct as there is a blockage of milk however it involves infection and can cause not only swollen painful breasts but redness due to inflammation as well as fever. Bed rest is important as is plenty of water (3lt per day), empty breasts regularly, ginger root and chamomile compress applied directly to the breast by soaking a flannel in cool tea, potato poultice (grate a potato and pop it in some muslin cloth then apply directly to the breast), Echinacea tincture to promote lymphatic flow and fight infection, Elderberry and Spearmint tea infusion for fever, Lactobacillus fermentum probiotic strain (as found in Qiara probiotic), Vitamin C and Zinc plus lecithin granules.

There are so many wonderful natural ways to support breastfeeding troubles using herbal and nutritional medicine. Breastfeeding is a learnt skill, be kind and patient with yourself and stock up on these remedies to help you if problems arise!

Kate, Naturopath and Postpartum Doula

Qiara is a family of breastmilk probiotics for pregnancy, breastfeeding, infant, kid and adult. Promote lifelong gut health with our awarded probiotic brand, most highly rated "Vitamin and Supplement" for Mum at @TellmebabyAU 2020 and 2021. Evidence-based for improving mastitis and gastrointestinal health issues. Read our reviews and probiotic news @Qiaraprobiotics : Buy online