One of the major concerns of any lactating mother is how to increase the secretion of milk. This is not surprising considering that mother’s milk is critical for the well – being of the mother as well as the child.
To further elaborate the case in point, the medical fraternity is of the opinion that while it protects the mother by minimizing the probability of contracting breast cancer in later life, it can help the baby by preventing malnutrition.
Myths and Facts
Contrary to popular belief it is not difficult to increase the secretion of milk in a lactating mother. The cardinal rule is to go ‘natural’.
This is best achieved by opting for one or more of these options:
#1 Compress and Massage
One of the commonest causes of low supply of milk is poor circulation of blood in the breasts; this is best reversed by first massaging the breasts and then feeding the baby.
One of the more effective massage techniques is to dip a cloth in warm water, squeezing out the excess water from the cloth and then gently massaging the breasts with the cloth for duration of ten minutes.
#2 Foods and Hydration
Low secretion of milk after delivery is commoner than one would believe and this could well be a function of dieting and low calories intake in the post pregnancy phase by the mother.
This is best reversed by ensuring that the mother eats ‘healthy’ and drinks plenty of fluids in the post pregnancy stage.
#3 Home Options
Fenugreek Seeds or ‘Methi’ as it is better known in local parlance is known to increase the secretion of milk in the mother. Fenugreek is not a recent discovery and has been used since times immemorial.
On the contrary those with an inclination for Fennel Seeds or ‘Sauf’ would indeed find it particularly encouraging that they can continue to consume Fennel Seeds, considering that like Fenugreek they too increase the secretion of milk in lactating mothers.
Garlic helps so your family physician or Gynaecologist will invariably advise you to consume garlic everyday as it ensures feeding better and for a longer period of time. The baby likes garlic flavour as it adds a favourable tang to the milk.
If you would like to see your child sleep better and be more cheerful, then the preferred option is to stop drinking coffee.
Experts have now concluded that consuming five or more cups of coffee in a day can lead to increased secretion of ‘caffeine’ in the breast milk. Thus logically caffeine will reach the baby through the milk and the effect continues for a longer duration as compared to adults.
Thus if you would like to improve the quality of milk secretion then the order of the day is to stop consuming coffee.
Breast Feeding and Intelligence
Breast fed babies tend to score higher on IQ tests as compared to non – breast fed babies. This has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt on the basis of an extensive study conducted in Brazil.
The medical logic being that breast milk is a rich source of long chain saturated fatty acids which help enhance the development of white brain matter in new born babies.Thus not surprisingly the rule of the thumb is to breast feed the baby for the first six months so as to ensure optimal results.
Breast Milk and Sugar
When we talk about sugar in breast milk we are in effect referring to the lactose content of breast milk in medical jargon.
Typically breast milk contains 7 per cent of lactose or ‘milk sugar’, as it is more commonly known.
Experts have now concluded that when the mother consumes more of sugar in her diet the composition of breast milk changes and shows a higher sugar content.
However contrary to popular belief high lactose content in the milk does not induce better sleep.
The level of sweetness or lactose content of breast milk changes from one mother to another. This could be attributed to the different diet patterns that the mothers may have adopted.
Flavoured Milk – The Way Forward
What the child prefers to eat in life is a function of the flavours that the child has been exposed to during the first six months of life.
These flavours may be introduced through breast milk or formula milk. Contrary to popular belief, flavours can be actually introduced in breast milk too!
In a classical study, the mother was asked to consume garlic pills and three hours later the baby was breast fed. The baby could appreciate the difference as the milk had a garlic flavour and the baby seemed to enjoy it considering that she continued to suckle longer than was usual.
This makes it more than evident that flavours can be introduced in breast milk too.
What makes it all the more fascinating is the fact that when mothers consumed more of carrot juice during their lactating months, the baby invariably opted for carrot based or flavoured options when introduced to solid food.
Thus it could well be concluded that breast milk is far more complex than one would expect. What makes it all the more fascinating is the fact that it can have some far reaching consequences for the baby in terms of physical an emotional content.
Thus breast milk is here to stay and is arguably the latest buzzword in health and wellness.