Babies derive all their nutrition from their mother's milk. The milk provides all the essential nutrients which are not available in any other form to the child. Indeed breast fed children are healthier on the whole than are bottle fed children. The activity of breast feeding itself enables the mother to maintain a proper balance of the hormones which will ensure resistance to the risk of disease and infection in the period following the birth of a child. Problems such as the swelling and tenderness felt in the breast, soreness and nipple cracking and insufficient milk sometimes crop up as detriments to the act of breast feeding.
The appearance of the breast may change under certain conditions, for example any blockage in the milk ducts lead to the formation of tender lumps giving rise to a red line from the swollen area on the breast. The production of too much milk in the breast can also have effects such as engorged breasts, that may become very hard and painful and the skin on the breast may become shiny and taut skin, along with tenderness in the nipples. Swelling in the nipples will make it harder for a baby to get a grip during suckling. The breast can also often become swollen, red and hot during a condition known as mastitis, where an infection sets in within the glands in the breasts, this condition is often accompanied by fever and fatigue in the affected woman.
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If a woman does not breast feed her child, it may result in problems for her as it is very natural for the breast to produce milk during pregnancy and following childbirth. Regular sessions of breast feeding the child must not be stopped merely because the breast is painful or inflamed. The flow of milk is an essential condition for healing to occur in the affected breast, this is so even in the case of mastitis-the child is not harmed by this. Any stress, anxiety or emotional fatigue felt by the mother is likely to increase the chances of having problems with the breast and the presence of these psychological and physical factors increases the chances of problems occurring in the breast. Improper suckling reflex by the baby can also cause many types of breast-feeding problems. The baby for example will not be able to suckle properly if there is a joint dysfunction as a result of a tumultuous or prolonged delivery. The baby in this situation may not be able to open his or her mouth wide enough to latch on completely or correctly if at all. This condition can be treated by a qualified chiropractor.
Though there are normal fluctuations in the production of milk by the mother's breast, any large fluctuation can indicate a serious underlying problem if the fluctuations occur over a persistent period of time. Excess milk production or insufficient milk production can also result if the suckling action of the baby is weak, this problem in the suckling action may be due to the child's weakness or because the child has been only drinking other fluids such as formula for a long period of time. The breast can become heavily engorged with excess milk. A mother's underactive thyroid or even a very low ingestion of fluids and healthy foods can bring about low or limited production of milk in the breast.
The type of foods consumed by the mother also has a bearing on the babies, as they are often very sensitive to certain foods and substances in their mother's diet. The possibility of any allergies should be thoroughly investigated and checked before breast feeding begins. The presence of all manners of solvents, chemicals such as DOT, PCBs and toxic metals in the environment must be screened, all of these can find their way into the mother's milk and thus indirectly to the baby.
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A substance called GLA is found abundantly in the oil of the evening primrose herb. GLA is the compound from which the body manufactures prostaglandin, which is immune system boosting hormone like compounds secreted by the body naturally in response to injury. For topically treating tenderness in the skin, rub the evening primrose oil from an opened capsule on to the affected area. The GLA will be manufactured by the skin as it absorbs the oil.
All vitamins are important to the human body; a combination multivitamin supplement can be continually used throughout the nursing period even if the mother's diet is sufficient in nutrient content. Milk contains a lot of calcium, and the body's requirements of this mineral increase in nursing mothers, because milk contains such a large amount of calcium-calcium supplements can be taken by the mother to replace that which is being given off with the milk. The essential mineral silica can be supplemented in the form of a capsule of vegetal silica or as silica gel by the nursing mother.
The abundance of minerals and the high chlorophyll content of green food supplements must be taken advantage of and supplemented to nursing mothers. Green food supplements such as kelp is very rich in potassium and iodine, both minerals are essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. The vitamin K content of alfalfa is very high. Milk production in the mother can be increased through regular supplements of the brewer's yeast; this supplemental yeast is also very rich in the B vitamins.
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The health of internal glands and the continuity of milk flow can be assured by regular supplements of medicinal herbs, these herbs are also excellent in relieving soreness in the breast of nursing mothers. Prepare herbal teas using these medicinal herbs by simply adding a tsp. of the herbs to a single cup of boiling water, let the herbs steep in the water for ten minutes and drink this concoction two times everyday on regular basis while nursing a baby.
A cotton cloth moistened with the infusion of the marigold herb can act as an antiseptic-use this herb to rub and cleanse the nipples and thus to disinfect them. Dry nipples can be a problem and moisturize them using a drop of the oil of the St. John's wort herb or tea tree oil diluted in about a single tbsp. olive or sweet almond oil-rub this solution onto the dry nipples to increase the moisture content. The regulation of milk production and flow is aided by herbal teas made from the stinging nettle. In case of over production of milk, the milk flow can be reduced in nursing mothers, if they rub the breasts with a tincture made from the lovage herb; drinking a herbal tea made from the lovage can also bring about a reduction in the milk production. To reduce the milk flow during the weaning off period, the mother can drink sage tea or juice to reduce the flow of milk. Milk flow reduction and complete cessation will start within two hours of drinking the tea or juice and the effect of the herb can generally persist for several days at a stretch. The health of the glands and breast is promoted by the juices of the kelp, the dandelion and the alfalfa juices. Nursing mothers can take a tbsp. of the combination juices thrice everyday. An herbal tea made from the fennel, the blessed thistle, alfalfa or red raspberry leaves can lead to an increase in milk production in nursing mothers. This herbal tea must be taken in doses of 1-3 cups daily by the mother. To encourage the development of breast and also to promote milk flow, drink herbal juices of the goat's rue herb. Preferably the herb can be taken in the form of a tea or in a liquid containing about 10 drops of herbal tincture. To increase the milk flow a combination herbal drink can be made from the milk thistle, the fenugreek and the caraway seeds, prepare these by crushing 3 tsp. each of the seeds to a cup of boiling water, add some fennel and dill to increase the potency and the effect of the herbal combination drink. The mother's milk supply can be suppressed by the presence of other psychological factors such as physical or emotional stress. To bring about relaxation and freedom from stress, use techniques like massage or bathe with bath water to which 5 drops of lemon balm oil has been added.
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Commonly used essential oils for breast feeding problems:
Symptomatically treatment is suggested for the use of each homeopathic remedy given below, if the mother is in acute pain or if there is inflammation, the appropriate remedy or remedies can be taken as frequently as necessary or only when needed. The normal dosage suggested is a single dose at a potency of about 6 or 12c to be taken two or three times every day, alternately one dose at 30c taken only once a day is also sufficient. The castor plant: botanical name Ricinus spp., is used to make castor oil, milk production can actually be stimulated by the application of this oil on to the breast
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To prevent the occurrence of sore nipples, keep changing the nursing position-this will result in less straining and avoid the soreness. Short and frequent sessions of breast feeding may aid in relieving the swelling of tissue in such cases where there is a hard and painful sensation in the breasts-this can be carried out along with unlimited suckling time provided to the baby. All obstructions in the ducts or a plugged duct usually disappear in about twenty-four hour's time, which is the normal amount of time that the body needs to clear the cause of obstruction. The best way to clear up the problem is to keep on breast-feeding, the continual sucking motion will aid in the clearance of the obstruction. This problem can be altogether avoided if the mother ensures that the milk ducts are completely emptied after every breast feeding session, this also ensures the prevention of a plugged duct. To relieve the pain and swelling associated with mastitis, the woman can place a fresh cabbage leaf alongside the breast, on the inside the bra-this will ease some of the swelling and the pain in the breast tissue. Excess milk in the breast can be pumped out into a sterile bottle for use later-especially when the breasts become painfully swollen because of the abundant milk. This milk can be stored in glass bottles for future use as and when needed.
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