Myths surrounding breastfeeding: Up until relatively recently, medicine has exerted a significant influence on health matters regarding women. Breastfeeding is one of the most evident examples of this influence.
False beliefs – such as the belief that formula feeding is better for the baby, the belief that breastfeeding is fattening or that it causes breasts to sag – have been used in many arguments to discourage mothers from breastfeeding their baby.
Making an informed decision
It is true that breastfeeding is very time consuming, and requires total dedication to the baby, especially in the first 3 months. It is also true that cracked and irritated nipples are very bothersome at first.
It is also true that formula feeding is a very valid choice that the mother should be able to make freely and without guilt.
Nutrients in breast milk and their benefits
It is useful to know that new-borns who are breastfed develop fewer infections than those who are bottle-fed.
Breast milk contains a number of intrinsic elements (antibodies, proteins and immune cells) that contribute towards the new-born’s ability to fight off certain illnesses, especially in the first months of life when the baby’s immune system does not have the full capacity to defend itself from external pathogens – infectious or allergenic.
The nutrients it contains are taken from the mother’s bloodstream in the correct proportions, which vary from day to day and between one feed and another, as the child develops, which means that the milk is personalised and perfectly adapted to the child’s individual needs.
It also seems that breastfed children have a higher intelligence quotient than their formula-fed peers.
This is partly due to the ingestion of fatty acids that influence brain development and partly due to the bond that is established between mother and child.
In their first year of life, breastfed children will have fewer respiratory, urinary and ear infections, thanks to the transfer of immunological elements.
Breastfeeding problems and homeopathic treatment
Nonetheless, several problems can occur at the start of breastfeeding, such as a low milk supply or cracked nipples – this can dissuade the mother from continuing with it. Homeopathy has a large arsenal of remedies for these problems. Let’s have a look at some of them:
A low milk supply
The best way to stimulate milk flow is to encourage the baby to breastfeed immediately after childbirth, and to allow him to breastfeed as often as possible for the first few days up until the milk comes through. If, in spite of this, there is still a shortage of milk, you can consider the following remedies:
- Ignatia: this will be useful when we suspect that the low milk supply is due to emotional tension, sadness or upset.
- Pulsatilla: we will use this remedy when the milk flow is interrupted by an upset, a fright or even due to becoming cold.
- Calcarea phosphorica: when the low milk supply isn’t related to a specific cause – this remedy will increase milk supply in a few days.
- Calcarea carbonica: when there is insufficient milk from the start, we can consider taking this remedy.
- Urtica urens: this is one of the great remedies for reduced milk secretion, even when the mammary glands have enlarged significantly.
- Ricinus: this remedy is useful for stimulating milk production when the cause is not apparent.
- Lac caninum: this is another remedy that usually works well in all of the above cases.
Inflammation and cracked nipples
The breasts and nipples and naturally sensitive areas and can sometimes become painful when they carry out their function.
Once breastfeeding has established, the area around the nipple can become reddened – this is usually due to an obstruction in a mammary duct. It can normally be resolved when the baby increases suction.
Another frequent issue is the cracking and bleeding of nipples, which can make breastfeeding extremely painful.
To avoid this, it is a good idea to cleanse and dry the nipple with olive oil, arnica or calendula tincture after each feed, as well as uncovering the breast as often as possible.
You should not stop breastfeeding, even when your nipples are irritated, cracked or painful, as stopping the suction will increase inflammation and pain. If, despite everything, there are still problems, homeopathy has several remedies to offer:
- Phutolacca: this is one of the best remedies for breast inflammation/infection and cracked nipples, especially when the breasts are heavy and hardened. When the baby feeds, the pain can be felt all over the body.
- Croton tiglium: we will use this remedy when the breast is swollen and hard and the nipples are very sensitive, even when lightly brushed by clothing. The pain can be felt even in the back.
- Sulphur: This remedy should be used when the cracks are large and bleed easily. There is usually intense itching, the pain is very sharp and appears when the baby starts to suck.
- Calendula: this can be taken in granule form or applied topically. It helps to heal and relieves pain. It is very useful when there is a discharge.
- Graphites: when there is a viscous yellowish discharge, Graphites is the remedy you need.
- Causticum: the mother’s nipples feel raw: they burn, itch and sting, as if they have been doused with alcohol.
- Silicea: when the cracks become ulcerated, when abscesses develop on the breast or around the nipple. The patient feels weak and insecure and has sweaty hands and feet.
- Lac caninum: the pains are continuous and exacerbated by the slightest movement to the point of forcing the sufferer to support her breasts with her hands when she walks or moves around.
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