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Natural remedies for breastfeeding difficulties


Breastfeeding provides many benefits to mothers and babies. For mothers, nursing helps the uterus to return to normal size and decreases the risk of hemorrhaging from the site of the placenta. For babies, mothers milk provides lactobacillus reuteri (L-Reuteri) which is an important strain of friendly bacteria native to the human digestive system.

Common difficulties in breastfeeding include sore nipples, engorgement, plugged ducts and mastitis.

Sore nipples can be prevented by toughening the skin during pregnancy. This can be done by either gently rubbing the nipples with a cloth, using a jet stream or a direct hard cold stream of water from the shower.

During nursing, keep the nipples dry and do not use soap when cleaning. If cracking, redness or inflammation still occurs, try applying aloe-vera gel.

Stick with a regular schedule for feeding time. Allow your infant to nurse unrestricted whenever your baby is hungry. Do not skip feeding times. Alternate breasts at each feeding. Make sure your baby’s mouth encloses the entire areola and rotate the pressure often.

Drink plenty of liquids to help maintain milk production. Herbal teas can be helpful during lactation. Fennel tea helps stimulate milk production. Steep 2-3 teaspoons of fennel seeds in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Fresh fennel can also be added to plain yogurt, cottage cheese, salads or soups. If there is an overabundance of milk, use sage tea. Pour 2-3 cups of boiling water or 3-4 teaspoons of dried sage leaves. Steep for 10 minutes and drain. Fennel or sage capsules can also be used if fresh fennel or sage is not available. The capsules may either be opened and steeped as a tea, then drain, or take 1-2 capsules straight as directed on the bottle.

Echinacea is a natural antibiotic and can help stimulate the immune system. It has been found helpful in healing mastitis. Simple heat applications such as a heating pad or hot water bottle can also be applied in cases of mastitis.

Folic acid and Vitamins B12 and B6 are important nutrients to take during pregnancy and lactation.

To ease colic in your baby or to promote lactation, use a water extract of dill. Mix 1 tablespoon of crushed dill seeds in ½ cup of boiling water, steep 5-8 hours. Pour off liquid and add 1 tablespoon of honey. Use 1 tablespoon about 15 minutes before feeding. Nature’s Sunshine liquid Catnip & Fennel is also helpful for colic in babies. It can be used by either the mother or administered to the baby. For infants, use 3-5 drops straight or mix in water and use as a tea.

Do eat a healthy, whole foods diet. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs, over-the-counter medications and herbs that may adversely affect the fetus during pregnancy or the infant while breastfeeding. 

St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center offers a Breastfeeding for Beginners class. This is a one-time 2 hour session. The cost is $15 per couple. The next class meets August 25 from 7:00-9:00pm. To register or for more information and additional dates call (208) 367-3454. St. Alphonsus Family Resource Center also offers a free lactation and support group for parents and their babies. This class meets each Tuesday from 11:00am to Noon. For more information on the support group call (208) 367-7380

For more info:; Moondragon Birthing Services;; Baby Center; To purchase Nature's Sunshine product visit