Breastfeeding is one of the most significant aspects of nursing a newborn child as the mother’s milk helps strengthen the baby’s immune system. Recommended by Ayurveda — as it is proven to have excellent effects on the baby and as as the mother’s health — breastfeeding also lowers risks asthma, allergies, respiratory diseases, ear infections, and diarrhoea.
“It is also a significant source of nutrition for babies as it provides antibodies, vitamins, proteins, and fat. It is commonly-known that breastfeeding is good for the health of babies, but it is equally beneficial for the mother as well. Ayurveda advocates breastfeeding for a healthy post-pregnancy journey for the mother. It helps in faster loss of pregnancy weight, burns calories and also releases oxytocin – a hormone which helps in returning the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size. Breastfeeding is also known to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer,” says Dr Archana Linto, NirogStreet.
However, she continues that sometimes first-time mothers are “not able to tackle common breastfeeding challenges such as low milk flow, irritation, breast pain, etc”. To help them, Dr Linto shares a few simple Ayurveda dietary and non-dietary recommendations that can aid mothers have a healthier and comfortable nursing period.
1. Physical activity
Heavy exercises and workout are not known to directly affect milk flow, and are hence not recommended for nursing mothers. However, it is ideal to have an active lifestyle, which is why new mothers can indulge in low impact fitness routines like yoga, Pilates and aerobics.
Post-delivery, nursing mothers are at a risk of dehydration. Hence, it is extremely important that a nursing mother keeps herself hydrated as breast milk is almost 90 per cent water. A nursing mother should on an average consume 10 to 12 glasses of water every day.
1. Fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds
Both the seeds are a great way to increase milk production in breastfeeding mothers as they help enhance the level of estrogen, a hormone that helps in producing milk. Fennel seeds can be infused in hot water to make tea which can be sweetened with honey (if needed). This tea can be consumed a couple of times in a day. Alternatively, mothers can also have a spoonful of seeds a few times a day. Fenugreek seeds can also be infused with water and taken two to three times a day.
Commonly found in Indian kitchens, cinnamon is very effective in increasing milk production. It may be consumed for a month or two by mixing its powder with water.
3. Cumin seeds
Another commonly found item in the Indian kitchen, jeera is extremely effective in curing low milk production. A nursing mother can mix a teaspoon of cumin seeds with some sugar and have this with warm milk before going to bed.
This Ayurvedic herb is found to be very effective in overcoming low milk production in nursing mothers as it helps regulate and maintain the body’s hormonal balance. One may consume it by mixing it in water.
This Ayurvedic herb should be infused in water along with some honey (to taste) and consumed two to three cups a day. It not only contains estrogen properties, but is also helpful in clearing blocked milk ducts to increase the milk flow.
6. Garlic and ginger
Simply including ginger and garlic in a mother’s daily diet can solve the problem.
7. Drumstick and basil
Consuming fresh drumstick juice with half a glass of milk every day for a month helps in increasing milk production. You can also boil five to six basil leaves for two minutes, simmer and let it boil further for about five minutes. Strain the water, add some honey and drink it. Recommended twice a day for a few months.
8. Carrots and beets
Including carrot and beet salad in a nursing mother’s diet can be quite helpful.
A very simple and easy way to help nursing mothers is to include at least five to six almonds, which have been soaked overnight, in their diet. Consuming almonds in healthy for nursing mothers overall health.
10. Masoor daal
Regular consumption of masoor daal with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of ghee is recommended.