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 Pregnancy & Motherhood

September 2010
Ayurvedic Supplements for Lactating Mothers
Dr. Panchali Moitra
While nothing can actually compare the exhilaration felt by a mother, when she holds her newborn after an eager wait of nine long months; it takes some time to realise that the little angel also brings in the baggage of post delivery stress, specific nutrition needs and a never ending assortment of responsibilities.
Ayurveda and its use of specific herbal supplements and natural medicinal herbs come to the rescue of the new mothers. If chosen correctly under the guidance of a qualified ayurvedic practitioner and combined with a well balanced diet regime, these herbs may tremendously impact not only the post delivery healing process of the mother, but also help to improve the breast milk production. A few common herbs advised during this period are
  1. Shatavari kalp- It is a wonder herb for lactating mothers, as it helps to improve the quantity and quality of breast milk. It is rich in B complex vitamins, zinc and calcium; all of which work wonderfully to provide strength to the new mother. A couple of tablespoons of this powder should be added to hot milk and had twice a day.
  2. Chamomile and Alfalafa- While chamomile aids in calming the nerves during post partum phase; the alfalfa seeds are powerhouse of nutrients and must be taken as a rejuvenating herb.
  3. Ginger and caraway seeds- Both qualify as effective lactating herbs, owing to their favourable effects on digestion and milk production.
  4. Fenugreek and Fennel- A regular feature in our kitchen closets, the good old methi seeds or fenugreek and saunf (fennel) are excellent galactagogues (herbs that improve breast milk secretion). They help to alleviate common digestive troubles like flatulence and can be dried, powdered and added to tea or soups.
Ayurvedic Diet
A diet which must be advised to the mother should necessarily be based upon her body constitution or prakruti, along with other factors such as age, medical condition and lifestyle. Understanding the prakruti will help to identify the predominance of specific doshas (Pitta, Kapha or Vaata) in the mother. The suggested dietary modifications would be aimed at bringing about a balance among all doshas. A typical diet must be a simple, lightly spiced and well balanced menu with increased indulgence in fresh vegetables, cow’s milk and fruits. Clarified butter or ghee may be added to the diet, so as to improve bowel movements.
  • Soak 10-12 almonds overnight and then blend it with milk, elaichi powder, kesar, poppy seeds or khus khus and dates. Drinking this mixture hot, helps in improving the flow of breast milk, especially for mothers with scanty milk production.
  • Drink 2-3 glasses of antioxidant rich anar or pomegranate juice. It is excellent for women with pitta or kapha doshas. Those with vaat may however replace this with carrot and orange juice.
  • Rich sources of fibre (needed for proper digestion), good proteins (milk, dals, sprouts, soybean or eggs) and 10-12 glasses of water (to increase volume of breast milk) are recommended.

Most importantly, an optimum dose of good sleep and a calm state of mind shall surely ensure that the new motherhood becomes a joyful journey to embark upon.
Dr.Panchali Moitra is a Weight Management Consultant and Specialist in Alternative Medicine


    
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