Gone are the days of having your baby while unconscious under anesthesia in a hospital and then having the baby taken away to be fed formula on schedule every four hours by a nurse.
The crying of a newborn who has only been able to ingest enough milk for a three-hour stay would be enough to drive any new mother to distraction.
No baby seemed to fit the descriptions in the literature, and feeding on demand could spoil a baby. This attitude was prevalent among intellectual moms like mine.
In her day, there were many unknowns about the new being. Modern medicine declared that babies don’t feel pain or have sensitivity until much older, contrary to the observations of parents and those less educated than physicians and researchers.
Now midwives have returned with doulas (birthing assistants). Birthing is looked on as a sacred event. Mother and baby are considered as a unit, sharing life together. Under ideal circumstances, bonding starts right after birth with a feed from the breast and continues from there.
What would help Mom to heal and adjust during the weeks after birth? The first thing to do for the birth trauma would be to take a dose of Arnica 200C (200C indicates the potency). This homeopathic remedy reduces swelling and relieves pain.
If one feels better after taking Arnica, one takes it again upon feeling worse. The baby will get Arnica through the mother’s milk.
Breastfeeding a baby even for just a few days when one only has colostrum but no milk can give the baby’s digestive and immune systems a good start. A longer course of breastfeeding, as my grandmother told my mother, is very cozy.
For mothers who have questions about breastfeeding, there is a breastfeeding hotline run by La Leche League (877-452-5324). Ask the doctor about lactation consultants who come to the home to give on-the-spot advice and encouragement.
The advantages of breastfeeding are uncountable. For the mother, breastfeeding helps her lose some extra pounds accumulated during pregnancy. And the release of oxytocin brings the uterus back to normal size. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis. It is also an easy way to bond and saves all the time that bottle washing would require.
Breast milk is digested faster than formula, so there will be more-frequent feedings, at least every three hours. Formula takes about an hour longer to digest, so there may be fewer feedings.
If formula is used at all, care must be taken that it does not contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has caused metabolic syndrome in babies. Moreover, some HFCS is adulterated with mercury. Also avoid organic brown rice syrup, which has been found to have unacceptable levels of arsenic.
When the baby can take a bottle, whether of breast milk or formula, someone else, like Dad, can give the bottle, giving Mom a much-needed rest.
A mother’s diet, whether breastfeeding or not, requires wholesome food for rebuilding her strength and health. One of the most important nutrients a mother needs after birth is omega-3 fats. A primary source of omega-3s is wild-caught salmon, which has the lowest mercury levels of the larger fish.
Other good fish sources are albacore tuna, mackerel, and halibut. Vegetarian sources of omega-3 fats are walnuts, flax seeds, and hemp products. Omega-3 fats stabilize moods and keep the brain and heart in good shape.
B vitamins are also very important. The modern American diet tends to be deficient in B vitamins because our current diets are not high in liver or other organ meats.
Our love of sugar and alcoholic beverages deplete the B vitamins. Everyone needs B vitamins for the nervous system, brain, skin, conversion of food and fat to energy, and maintenance of a tranquil mood.
With the exception of B12, brewer’s yeast is a very good source of all the B vitamins. It can be added to soups or savory dishes. Start with a teaspoon a day if one isn’t used to it, and work up to 3 tablespoons a day.
Brewer’s yeast is also a great source of protein. One rounded teaspoon contains 5 grams of protein. Breastfeeding mothers need about five times the amount of B vitamins than if they were not breastfeeding. Vitamin B12 can be obtained from eggs, cheese, milk, shellfish, and special supplements.
A very pleasant way to increase milk flow and get more B vitamins is to drink unpasteurized beer. This should be done at the end of the day since hops bring on sleep. One should drink only one beer a day.
Mothers with candida or who are taking medication should consult their doctors before drinking beer or taking brewer’s yeast. Wheat germ and lentils are other good sources of B vitamins.
Minerals necessary for the bones and the body’s electrical systems come from leafy greens such as kale, collards, broccoli, and Swiss chard. The greens can be included in soups, stir fries, vegetable juice, or quiches. To absorb the vitamin A in green vegetables, a fat-soluble vitamin, add or eat with olive oil, butter, or some other fat.
The healthy mother will be resilient, tranquil, and able to enjoy her new experience.