Starting a few days after Thanksgiving, and running through January, it’s not uncommon for breastfeeding mamas to flow in to the store here at Indigo Forest with a whole string of nursing concerns …..
- “Do you think the sage in the stuffing reduced my milk supply?”
- “I think I might be loosing my milk!”
- “My baby isn’t satisfied at the breast, and is getting really fussy. I’m afraid there’s a problem?”
Our experience has been that although sage IS used to help nursing mothers dry up their milk supply (for instance while weaning), small occasional amounts of sage used as seasoning rarely cause large reductions in the volume of breastmilk available.
Nearly all of customers have found their solution through these questions:
- Did you travel by plane recently, leading to greater dehydration, or disruption your baby’s schedule? Babies of certain ages (especially 6 mo-1 year) seem to be very distracted by the excitement of travel, which has them looking around at all the activity and less interested in nursing.
- Were you in a stressful family setting over the holidays? Emotional (dis)stress and tension may affect the frequency of the baby’s nursing, mom’s abililty to relax and have a milk let-down, and even mom’s comfort in settling in for relaxed eating, drinking, or breastfeeding in the presence of male relatives. Or, the effects of THEIR discomfort & snarky comments!
- Were you drinking enough fluids over this holiday to generate sufficient milk?
- And last but not least – Were you visiting with super Helpful Relatives? The kind that saw your delicious baby, and so swept in, held, entertained & passed around that sweet child of yours for hours at a time? This is a really common problem – those Grandmas can be TOO GOOD at ‘jiggling the baby!’ This especially comes up when family members are not acquainted with the normal rhythms of a nursing relationship, such as nursing frequently at the breast. When they expect to see “the baby eat” every 3-4 hours, as did their bottle-fed infants, infant hunger cues are often missed or distracted away. This has the effect of stretching out the baby’s nursing schedule from every hour or two, to every 2-4 hours.
Remember this breastfeeding is a “Supply & Demand” system! More demand (time at the breast sucking) results in more milk! Less demand (less frequent nursing), especially if over several days, results in less milk production.
The ‘cured’ in most of these situations is a ‘Nursing Vacation.’ This is where, depending on age of baby, mom and baby return to especially close contact for a day or two (or three.) A very young infant may need mom to go back to bed and do skin-to-skin contact for a few days to recalibrate. (And probably mom could use it too!) Perhaps an older baby just needs their world to slow down, a weekend at home, lots of cuddles & even baths together, reawakening a lot of breast contact and hormonal surges.
One customer was certain that she was in the downward spiral of losing her milk completely as had happened with her first baby. She was nearly hysterical to be in this frightening and stressful situation again, seeing her young baby be hungry. She was shocked when we suggested, instead of buying a bunch of lactation remedies quite yet, to brew up a pot of her pregnancy tea (it makes great milk too!), turn her master bedroom into a toasty greenhouse, and hanging out in bed with a warm nearly naked baby skin-to-skin for the day. It was a joyous phone call only a 5 hours later when she called to say she was already ‘gushing milk’ and couldn’t believe the difference!
This is world is a busy place, but babies are not on the fast-paced track. Their ‘natural habitat’ for their ‘4th trimester’, their first 3 months, is actually in the arms of their mothers (or loving parent.) This close contact helps them to stabilize their vital signs, brings them a feel of security and well-being (supporting ample weight gain and calm relaxed behavior & sleeping), and is vital in the hormonal dance for breastfeeding mothers. Moms and babies thrive in the holiday season when mamas & papas are well-nurtured by the Helpful Relatives, and parents feel comfortable being the ones to moderate the amount of time their babies are away from them. Maybe then you can find the balance of baby-feeding and even get in some wonderful ‘couple time’ too!