Let the milk flow with Ayurveda

What to do if you are afraid that there is not enough milk to feed your baby?

Ayurveda (and Western science also btw) considers breastfeeding the most nourishing and protective food there is for your baby. This seems very logical to me: how is it even possible that an artificial formula can beat our body’s own processes?

No wonder that it is widely recognized that breastfeeding protects your baby against certain allergies, viruses, infections and skin diseases (like eczema and psoriasis). In a way breastfeeding is the most natural way of giving your baby a vaccine as it will boost their immune system tremendously. It is also a way to connect with your baby, make them feel safe and bond together.

Breastfeeding is the most natural way of vaccination

Yet it’s sometimes hard for us mothers to let the milk flow. Especially once we start undertaking things on our own our milk flow can be reduced. At least this is what I have experienced.

Mainly because pumping is not that intimate as breastfeeding, but also because babies can simply suck better than the best artificial breast pump could possibly mimic. Of course, watching photos and videos of your baby while you are pumping can help. But it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t pull out all the stops to experiment with different Ayurvedic herbs, teas, foods & activities to increase my production.

Here are the things that I tried and which really worked out well for me:

  • Ayurvedic herb booster: make yourself 3 times a day a shot with ½ tsp. Shatavari and ½ tsp. Ashwagandha mixed with organic full fat cow- or almond milk. If you are living in Amsterdam you can go to this shop called Unlimited Health were they sell very good quality Shatavari and Ashwagandha for a really good price.

  • Make sure you drink enough fluids. Fennel Tea, Nettle Tea or Weleda’s Bio Breastfeeding teas are a good choice.

  • Go to the store and buy some formula as a substitute. I bought holle infant goat’s Milk for my baby girl and tried it out once in order to know that there would be a backup plan which instantly distressed my system resulting in a better milk flow.

  • If you need to breastpump make a meditation out of it. Sit comfortably and close your eyes, but keep an inward gaze visualizing that the milk is flowing towards your nipples. Watch your breathing while you are doing it and see if you can create long deep in- and exhalations. Especially the exhalations are very powerful.

See it as a meditation

  • Keep stimulating your breast. When you are at home and have the time to pump extra – go for it. Even if the milk is not flowing keep pumping for another 5 minutes. In this way you are signaling your body that more milk is needed. You can even do this one hour a day on and off. Start with pumping 5 minutes, than stop, and go for another 5 minutes on the other side, again stop and repeat this for one hour. But watch out with this one. If it becomes hard working (what it became to me at one point) than there is no use to it as this will increase you stress levels which is exactly giving you the opposite.

  • Use the power of skin-on-skin contact. Taking a bath together or simply lay in bed naked together is so substantial and fun!

  • When at home go and lay to breastfeed. Especially when the baby becomes heavier it will help you to relax.

  • Spoil yourself with fresh homemade almond milk. It’s very simple: soak one cup of almonds overnight and put them in a blender or slow juicer with 2 cups of water. Drink plenty. If you have time you can warm it up and add dates to it. Gosh I love this one.

  • Add oats (which are considered lactation-boosting) to your diet. A wonderful recipe is: 3 cups of oats, 10 cups water, chopped fresh ginger, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon, raisins, walnuts and cashew nuts all cooked together for 30 minutes until the porridge becomes jelly. Put it in a container in a fridge and scoop yourself a good portion every morning. Put it in a pan with some (fresh) almond milk and stir until your porridge is nice and smooth.

  • Use plenty fenugreek powder in your cooking. It goes very well in curries, kitchari (typical Ayurvedic dish) and in all soups. You can also make yourself a very lactation-boosting tea which you can sip when you are nursing. For this you boil ¼ cup fenugreek seeds, ¼ cup cumin seeds and 4 cups of water. Let it cool slightly and add some honey to it.

Besides, it’s also good to be aware of something that has come to be known as the “4 months slump”. What refers to a decreasing milk production around that period as a result of various reasons (like going to work again, changes in hormones, etc.).

Hence, don’t worry when your production lowers for a while. For most of us it will come back. Sometimes even more than it was before. Still if you want to support your production you could try one or more of these ideas in order to keep on nurturing your baby with the best food there is!

Nevertheless, before ending this article, I would like to stipulate that I now know that we mothers all do what we can and that I am fully aware that breastfeeding is not the best choice for every mother (or a choice at all!). If it didn’t work out for you than bottle feeding your baby with the same love and attention will definitely do the same. Good choices of formula may be Holle infant goat’s milk (especially when there are difficulties with digestion) or Neolac organic stage 1 milk which you can both buy at Ekoplaza (when living in the Netherlands).

Want to know more about how you can bring Ayurveda into motherhood? Take a look at my Instagram storyline “motherhood” where I regularly share my path or come to my Workshop Ayurveda for Mommies (to be) December 9th at the White Door Studio.