Introduction

The period after childbirth, to say the least, is an emotional roller-coaster. The excitement of finally meeting your baby, the altered sleeping patterns, physical exhaustion from labour and childbirth, the hormonal changes and not forgetting the feeding cycles – all this can become overwhelming. Post-natal depression or baby blues is very common after childbirth and should not be seen as a sign of weakness. You can approach your local GP and they will be able to give you proper guidance and a referral to a psychologist or counsellor, if required.

Feeding your Baby

Often, it is breastfeeding that can cause the most stress to new mothers. The decision of whether to breastfeed or use formula is no longer a straightforward one. Whilst breast milk is the preferred nutrition for babies, there are circumstances when the use of formula should also be considered.

I will first briefly discuss the benefits of breastfeeding, which are manifold, for both the child and mother. The effects permeate not just the physical plane but also have a profound psychological and emotional impact. The moment a mother puts her baby to the breast shortly after birth, oxytoxin is released. This hormone helps to expel the placenta and promote healing in the womb. Mothers who breastfeed their babies recover faster after childbirth and have a lower risk of obesity, osteoporosis, breast cancer and ovarian cancer in the long term.

For the baby, mother’s milk contains all the necessary nutrients which are in a form that is easily digestible and assimilated by the baby’s delicate digestive system. Colostrum, which is a thin yellow fluid that flows from the nipple before breast milk is produced, is high in calorie, protein, and antibody content. Babies require milk that is high in fat content because they are unable to digest lactose properly. Hence, formula milk, which is generally high in lactose but contains a lower amount of fat, is more difficult for babies to digest.

The antibodies in the breast milk protect the baby against infections. Breast milk also changes the pH of the stool and intestinal flora, thereby protecting the baby against diarrhea. In terms of long-term health, babies who have been breastfed tend to be protected from chronic diseases such as Crohn’s disease, diabetes, allergies, etc. Breastfeeding is also a time for the baby and mother to bond with each other. 

However, having mentioned the above, it is important to realize that there are situations where supplementation with formula should be considered and mothers need not feel guilty if they have to do so. 

In order to ensure an adequate supply of breastmilk, mothers need to have proper rest, good nutrition, and take sufficient fluids. For this, the presence of a support network in the few weeks after birth is critical. Unfortunately, not all mothers have access to this support. In such circumstances, it is not surprising that a new mother may feel overwhelmed with responsibility and this, in turn, can have an adverse effect on the milk supply. Other factors that lead to problems in supply include stressful births, the baby’s inability to latch, inverted nipples, etc.

The important thing is to keep trying to breastfeed your baby or to use a breast pump to express the milk.  But if the experience becomes too frustrating and emotionally draining, speak to your lactation consultant and consider supplementing your baby’s feeds with formula. Remember, some breastmilk is better than none, and what your baby needs the most is a positive and happy home environment. Another thing to keep in mind is that whilst breastfeeding facilitates bonding, it is not the ONLY way to bond with your baby.

How homeopathy can help

Homeopathy can be invaluable to new mothers in such circumstances to help restore a positive outlook and to resolve lactation issues, if any. The treatment takes into consideration your individual symptoms, your mental and emotional state as well as your likes and dislikes. For example, if you are weepy, feeling thirstless and craving cold foods, your remedy will be different to another mother who is detached from her baby and feels better after exercising or dancing. This is the beauty of homeopathy. Even though two people may be given the same diagnosis, the therapy takes into account their unique experiences and hence, each will be given a different remedy. The other advantage with homeopathy is a natural and holistic choice if you are breastfeeding.

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