Common problems & solutions
Constipation is a common problem after birth,and can be caused by dehydration, a change in hormones, stress to the muscles involved in birth, and even iron supplementation. A little constipation in the first few days is normal, but if you find bowel movements are not returning, after speaking to your GP or midwife here are some changes you can make:
Drink between 2 - 3 litres of water each day
Prunes are a good natural laxative, add to your morning oats or eat on their own. Prune juice is also good.
Dietary fibre i.e whole grains, vegetables, fruit
Take regular walks
Mastitis is a common condition amongst breastfeeding women in the first three months after birth, About 20 % of breastfeeding women experience at least one episode of mastitis, and 3 % of these women develop a breast abscess. Breast tissue becomes inflamed and sore, and symptoms include a lump or area of hardness in the breast, a boring pain in the breast sometimes just during feeding, nipple discharge, a red and swollen area on the breast that may be sore to touch. Flu like symptoms of fever and chills may also accompany the symptoms. Mastitis is usually caused by infrequent or missing feeds, weaning too quickly or baby not latching properly. A doula, midwife or GP will all be able to help if any of these symptoms occur.
Protection against mastitis
Though the evidence is inconclusive at present, there are some nutritional factors which are thought to predispose women to mastitis. These include high salt intake, high fat intake, and anaemia. Poor micronutrient status is also thought to increase mastitis occurrence, whereas antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin E and selenium have shown a reduction in mastitis in dairy animals. Vitamin A is present in apricots, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale and spinach. Almonds, spinach and sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, and selenium is found in yellowfin tuna, halibut, grass fed beef, eggs, shiitake mushrooms & brown rice.
Beneficial bacteria in human breast milk play a role in reducing the risk of mastitis, as well as providing the infant with a source of healthy microbes. Bacteria from women’s gastrointestinal tract travel to the mammary gland and are passed onto the baby through the mother's milk. Eating prebiotic and probiotic foods will ensure there is an abundance of beneficial bacteria. Have a look at the section on Gut Health for more information.
“When we trust the makers of baby formula more than we do our own ability to nourish our babies, we lose a chance to claim an aspect of our power as women. Thinking that baby formula is as good as breast milk is believing that thirty years of technology is superior to three million years of nature’s evolution. Countless women have regained trust in their bodies through nursing their children, even if they weren’t sure at first that they could do it. It is an act of female power, and I think of it as feminism in its purest form.”
Lecithin decreases the viscosity of milk making it easier to pass through ducts by increasing polyunsaturated fatty acids. Lecithin is found in eggs, dairy products, beef and peanuts as well as fruits and vegetables.
Breast milk itself can be a great natural remedy, by rubbing it on sore nipples prior to and after breastfeeding.
Garlic contains the compound allium and can help boost the immune system. Eat between 1 -3 cloves a day, just not on an empty stomach!
Cabbage leaves have long been used for the treatment of mild mastitis. Keep in fridge, break a leaf off and place inside the bra cup.
Fenugreek seed, rosemary, comfrey and dandelion have anti inflammatory & antibacterial properties, used together they make a good compress.