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Breastfeeding has many benefits for both you and your baby.1 Breastfeeding is best for your baby because it is the ideal nutrition, it contains antibodies that protect infants from certain illnesses, such as ear infections, diarrhoea, respiratory illnesses, and allergies.1 Breastfed babies also have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).1 Breastfeeding is good for you as it triggers the release of a hormone called oxytocin that helps the uterus return to its normal size more quickly.1 It may make it easier to lose the weight you gained during pregnancy and may also reduce the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.1

Nutrition during breastfeeding

Your body needs about 450–500 extra calories a day to make breastmilk for your baby.1 Your health care professional may recommend that you continue to take your prenatal multivitamin supplement while you are breastfeeding.1 Drink plenty of fluids, and drink more if your urine is dark yellow.1 Try to limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg a day, which is about 2 cups of instant coffee.1 If you are breastfeeding and need to take a prescription medication to manage a health condition, please make sure your health professional knows that you are breastfeeding.1

If you are struggling to produce sufficient breastmilk, there are various products available (both over the counter and prescription medication) to boost your milk production (so called galatogogues). 2 One of the most widely used natural remedies in South Africa to increase breastmilk is a berry elixir, commonly known among South African midwives as “jungle juice”.2

red juice exploding upwards from glass

Suggested Recipe for Jungle Juice 3

Ingredients:

1 litre apple juice
2 litre water
60 ml Schlehen Blackthorn Berry Elixir
1 sachet Rehidrat in blackcurrent
10 drops Rescue Remedy

Method:

Have a container that can hold three litres of liquid and still have space to mix it up. Mix all ingredients up – in any order- except for the Rescue Remedy, and store in the fridge. Drink regularly, adding 10 drops of rescue remedy to each glass. Consume all 3 litres within a 24-hour period.

Seven steps for caring for your breasts during breastfeeding

  1. Practice good hygiene – keep your breasts and nipples clean by washing them each day with warm water. 4 Avoid using soap and other products on your breasts since it dries the skin. 4,5 Wash your hands after nappy changes, using the bathroom and before touching your breasts. 5
  2. Wear a supportive bra – choose a specially designed nursing bra or a regular bra that fits well but is not too tight. 5,6 Avoid underwire bras. 5 Wear a cotton bra so air can circulate. 6
  3. Keep nipples dry between feeds – if possible, use cotton nursing pads without a plastic backing. 5,6 Change them frequently. 5,7
  4. Moisturise your nipples with your breastmilk – after nursing your baby, rub some of your breastmilk on your nipples and areola then let them air dry. 4 Some women find that applying a small amount of lanolin after feeding helps. 5
  5. Make sure your baby is latching on correctly – getting your baby to latch on well from the first breastfeeding, and nursing often (most newborns need to breastfeed 8 – 12 times per day)4 can help prevent the development of painful breast problems such as sore nipples, breast engorgement and mastitis. 5,7,8
  6. Remove your child from your breast correctly – place your finger in the corner of her mouth to break the suction between her mouth and your breast.4 Do not try to just pull her off.
  7. Treat breast engorgement – if your breasts become painfully overfull, hard, and swollen, you need to feed often, apply a heat pack before breastfeeding to get the milk flowing and then apply ice packs or chilled cabbage leaves after breastfeeding, to reduce pain and swelling of engorged breasts. 8
baby suckling on breast

Mastitis: What to look out for

Mastitis is an inflammation of breast tissue that sometimes involves an infection, and often affects women who are breastfeeding. 9

Signs and symptoms of mastitis can appear suddenly and include: 9

  • Breast tenderness or warmth to the touch
  • Breast swelling
  • Thickening of breast tissue, or a breast lump
  • Pain or a burning sensation continuously or while breastfeeding
  • Skin redness, often in a wedge-shaped pattern
  • Generally feeling ill
  • Fevers and/or chills

Milk that is trapped in the breast is the main cause of mastitis. 9 Other causes include a blocked milk duct or bacteria entering your breast through a cracked nipple. 9 If you develop mastitis infection, it is important that it gets treated quickly and effectively, otherwise it can result in a breast abscess, a much more serious and painful complication of breastfeeding. 9 Mastitis treatment usually involves antibiotics and pain medication. 9 It’s important to contact your doctor if your mastitis doesn’t clear up after taking antibiotics. 9

visual: explanation of mastitis
woman holding upper chest

Please note that the information contained in this website does not replace the advice and recommendations of your midwife, medical doctor or gynaecologist.

References:  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Breastfeeding Your Baby [Online] 2016 Nov [cited 2018 Aug 21] Available from URL:https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Breastfeeding-Your-Baby. 2. N Steyn N, Zunza M, Decloedt EH. A cross-sectional descriptive study of breastfeeding behaviour and galactogogue use among private-sector patients in Cape Town, South Africa. SA J Obs Gynae 2017;23(1):S20-S23. 3. Mediclinic Infohub. Frequently asked breastfeeding questions part 2. [online] 2014 [cited 2018 Aug 28]. Available from: URL: https://www.mediclinicinfohub.co.za/frequently-asked-breast-feeding-questions-part-2/. 4. Cleveland Clinic. Breastfeeding: The First Few Weeks. [online] [cited 2018 Aug 28]. Available from: URL: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/3992-breastfeeding-the-first-weeks. 5. Canadian Women’s Health Network. Keeping Your Breasts Healthy: Breastfeeding. [online] 2013 Sep [cited 2018 Aug 28]. Available from: URL: http://cwhn.ca/en/node/44820. 6. Sore or cracked nipples when breastfeeding. [online] 2016 Jan [cited 2018 Aug 28]. Available from: URL: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/sore-cracked-nipples-breastfeeding/#self-help-tips-for-sore-nipples. 7. Australian Breastfeeding Association. Sore/cracked nipples. [online] 2016 Jun [cited 2018 Aug 28]. Available from: URL: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/common-concerns%E2%80%93mum/sore-cracked-nipples. 8. La Leche League GB. Engorged Breasts – avoiding and treating. [online] 2016 [cited 2018 Aug 28]. Available from: URL: https://www.laleche.org.uk/engorged-breasts-avoiding-and-treating./ 9. Mayo Clinic: Mastitis: [Online] 2018 July 19 [cited 2018 Aug 22] Available from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mastitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20374829.

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