17th December 2017 
Topic of the month. Breastfeeding

WORKING WITH NEW MUMS & BABIES

I work with many ladies through pregnancy and postnatally. This can be really rewarding and I love being able to support women at the beginning of this exciting (but sometimes daunting) journey of motherhood. I often find my voluntary experience in supporting mums to Breastfeed on the postnatal ward at Lewisham Hospital can be really useful in the consulting room. There are some very simple practical things that can help both mum and baby with some common problems in the first few weeks after birth. In addition to using homeopathic remedies, simply looking at how a baby is positioned on the breast can go some way to resolving many issues that are commonly encountered.

It is beneficial to have a detailed consultation exploring the background of the mother, the mental, emotional & physical state before and during pregnancy - as well as the birth; this can inform the choice of remedy for the mother and baby. As a homeopath, that enables me to take a more holistic approach to prescribing. However, there are some remedies frequently indicated for some problems:

COMMON PROBLEMS FOR NEW MUMS
If you choose to breast feed your baby, the first few weeks can be amazing and rewarding - but it can take time and practice for some mum's to really feel like they have got the hand of Breastfeeding. There is a lot of free help and support in Lewisham with a drop in Baby cafe running every day during the week. Most problems are really easily resolved by tweaking the way baby is positioned and attached to the breast. However, pain that lasts for more than a few seconds suggests that mum might need help adjusting the way baby is feeding. If the baby isn't latched on comfortably, this can result in cracked nipples leaving mum open to fungal infection (thrush) and/or mastitis. Another common issue can be milk supply.

Thrush
This is indicated if there is pain in both breasts (usually) for sometime after a feed. It is more likely to be experienced if the mother has sore cracked nipples, has a history of candida infections or if she has had antibiotics during /after birth. Signs of thrush include:

- Burning nipple pain
- Shiny or flaky skin around the areola
- Stabbing pain behind the nipple
- Painful breasts (not localised)

Thrush will be transferred to a nursing baby and a fussy feeder with white patches inside the mouth is a sure sign of a fungal infection. You can wash your nipples and baby's mouth after a feed with a cloth soaked in a solution of 1/4pt of boiled cooled water with either 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar or 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. This changes the pH of the nipple/mouth making it harder for the candida to flourish. Probiotics are also worth considering.

There are a number of homeopathic remedies that might be considered for both mum and baby. Give in 30c potency, 3 times a day for 2 - 3 days:

BORAX:
Breast: Indicated when there is breast pain during a feed and aching after. The pain is in the opposite breast to the one baby is feeding on.
Oral: Baby cries with pain during a feed or will refuse the breast altogether. Thrush on inner cheeks. Mouth feels hot and dry. Excess salivation

MERCURIUS:
Excessive and profuse salivation is a prominent symptom. Foul breath. Symptoms accompanied with diarrhea.

SULPHURICUM ACIDUM
Mouth is very painful and coated in bright yellow or white thrush. Stools are bright yellow and look like chopped egg. Salivation (not as excessive as Mercurius). Baby vomits sour milk and will smell sour.


Mastitis
Signs of mastitis include:
- Red patches on your breast
- Tender lump on your breast
- Feeling achy and feverish

It is important to keep your milk flowing by continuing to feed feed feed! LaLeche league recommend applying hot compress to the breast before a feed to encourage milk flow and a cold compress for at least 20 mins in between feeds to reduce inflammation. You can massage the breast to help clear the blockage.

If left unchecked, mastitis can become systemic and a more serious threat to health. There are many homeopathic remedies which might be considered to give relief but a two common remedies may be worth considering whilst seeking out professional advice:

BELLADONNA:
Onset is sudden and intense
Pains are throbbing
Red streaks radiates from the nipple, breasts are heavy, hard, hot and red
Flushed face, fever with dilated pupils.
May have a throbbing headache

PHYTOLACCA:
Breasts painful and hard with a purple hue
Breasts lumpy and tender in spots
Pain when nursing
Cracked nipples, small ulcers around the nipples
Watery, bloody discharge from nipples
Worse cold, worse at night, Left breast worse

Milk supply
The best way to increase your milk supply is to keep putting your baby on the breast and spend lots of time skin to skin. If your long term goal is to breastfeed, don't be tempted to use a teat of any kind (dummy or bottle) until the breastfeeding is firmly established, this usually takes at least 6 - 8 weeks. Using a teat often causes nipple confusion and it can then be problematic (although not impossible) to encourage baby to take the breast. Should your baby need to supplement feeds with either expressed milk or formula, then there are other ways to feed him or her without using a bottle. Ask your health visitor, nurse or at the baby cafe for advice. Unless there is an obvious medical reason why baby does need formula, it is always worth seeking out a second opinion from an infant feeding specialist if you have been advised to 'top up with formula.' In addition, a homeopath would need to take a detailed case in order to help with this issue.