Breastfeeding is a science, said Angel Waithera in an interview with Eve Digital. Waithera is the founder and proprietor of LactaMama, a lactation service for new mums.
“We offer breast milk boosting products to boost your supply but also to enrich your milk to help babies gain weight.”
When it comes to motherhood, breastfeeding is one of the least discussed topics and yet, it’s extremely important as it’s the primary way through which your baby gets their nutrition.
“People just expect you to know how to breastfeed,” Waithera explained. “But nobody teaches you how.”
Low milk supply
One of the first things you are expected to do as a new mum, and be good at, is to breastfeed. While some mothers are fortunate enough to get that release of breastmilk almost right away, others have a harder time and the milk doesn’t come right away. What is often overlooked, and mothers are frequently made to feel like failures for it, is that certain factors can make it difficult for a new mum to have enough and even nutritious breast milk.
For Waithera, having her second child via c-section brought these challenges to light.
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“When I had my son, I had heard about lactation cookies and had read about it but I had milk; you never think that this is a problem that can hit you,” she said.
“But when I had my second child through CS, it was so painful. With CS, your body is trying to mend itself so I think your body doesn’t focus so much on breast milk but on the pain areas and healing.
“I was in the hospital [and] no milk came.”
Waithera pointed out four factors: hormonal issues, new mum fatigue, pain and drugs from a CS and the return of your period.
“When your period comes back, your breast milk disappears,” she said. “Breast milk is hormonal and so is your period. The hormones that trigger your period are the ones that were responsible for your breast milk. Milk disappears. So you have to eat foods that are rich in zinc and magnesium so that that hormonal imbalance doesn’t occur.”
Lactation products help new mums get a better handle on these issues. Waithera went on to do more in depth research on the science of breastfeeding, looking into galactagogues i.e. substances, in this case foods, that promote or increase the flow of breast milk.
“Instead of eating all the food and putting on a lot of weight, I went into looking for actual foods that will solve my issue,” she explained. “I tried the traditional way but then I was like there must be another solution.”
From her research she found that fennel, dill, oats, flax seeds and fenugreek aid in the production of breast milk.
As a result, Waithera started making lactation products which she now sells through LactaMama: lactation cookies, lactation porridge and hot chocolate mix.
“My son is a testament. When I started taking my own products, my milk came in after there was zero milk.”
“We are trying to preach that breast milk is not natural and does not come naturally [as people had previously thought].
“We also walk with mothers through this journey.”
As galactagogues increase and enrich breast milk, your child puts on weight and is able to meet their milestones in a timely manner. They also help in the child’s mental development, as well as help prevent colic and gas. For the mother, they help in digestion preventing constipation and heartburn.
Other factors that can help include a change of societal mindset and adequate training of new mums.
“One thing that people often forget is that when a child is born so is a mother,” Waithera reiterated. “They usually focus so much on taking care of the child that they forget the mother exists.”
New mums need the support of their family and friends in this journey. They can help in babysitting so that the mother can get some rest. Rest gives your body time to produce milk. They can help in taking care of other external factors such as caring for older children and ensuring the home is running smoothly.
Avoid stressing the mother with unsolicited advice or putting pressure on them to breastfeed.
“Breast milk is a psychological process. If your mind is not in it then no milk will come.”
Lactation consultants are available to guide you through the process of breastfeeding such as getting the proper latch.
“Lactation consultants walk with a mother from birth, help them through the breast feeding process, teach them positions of breastfeeding, the latching process, so you are able to skip all the difficulties and get on a good breastfeeding plan.”
A bad latch can lead to low milk supply, cracked nipples which are painful and deter the mother from breastfeeding.
By learning how to breastfeed and eating foods that focus solely on the production of breast milk, new mums can have a better experience as they nurse and bond with their babies.