In the mother breast milk is produced by Rasa Dhatu. Rasa dhatu is the first of the seven tissues produced after proper digestion and assimilation of the food. According to Charaka Samhita, the most authentic textbook of Ayurveda, breast milk provides vitality and increases ojas, which is responsible for immunity and growth of the baby. It nourishes the child physically and emotionally, and is easy to digest. Breast-milk is directly influenced by the food we eat.
Factors promoting secretion of breast milk
- Love and affection for the baby are essential for secretion of the breast milk. Hence, looking at, handling, carrying the baby promotes secretion of milk. Sucking by the baby is the most important stimulus for the secretion of breast milk.
- Happy state of mind and adequate rest and sleep are important for increasing breast milk supply.
- Nutritious diet with predominantly sweet and salty taste and having soothing effects on the body and tissues is important for increasing breast milk supply.
- Exposure to polluted and infectious climatic conditions should be avoided, since any infection to the mother during lactation period can be easily transferred to the child.
Dietetics for lactating mother
- Intake of the canned foods, hot, pungent, and spicy food recipes should be avoided, as these decrease milk secretion.
- The best diet for a nursing mother is a simple, bland vegetarian menu.
- Also, Ghee and oils should be taken in adequate amount to improve digestion, facilitate the evacuation of bowels, nourish the traumatized tissues, and subdue the vitiated Vata Dosha, which gets aggravated during the process of childbirth.
- Milk, meat, ghee, oil, and plenty of fluids help to increase the quantity of breast milk.
Characteristic of breast milk
The milk should be whitish yellow or whitish in color, should have normal smell, taste and touch. Pure milk is free from discoloration and when put in a container of water it mixes evenly, neither produces froth nor streaks, neither floats nor settles down. This milk provides nourishment and good health to the child. If the milk sinks in water, it is heavy with Kapha (hence, Kapha provoking items have to be removed from the diet) If the milk floats, it is because of the airy Vata (the child will pass gaseous stools and suffer from gripes). If Pitta is in excess, there will be foul smell.
Factors that decrease breast milk production from Ayurvedic Viewpoint
- Ayurveda authors mentioned the causes for decrease in breast milk production and they are authenticated by modern medical science even today. They are
- Excessive dieting and physical exercise and resulting fatigue.
- Consumption of excessive dry food substances - without fat or oils.
- Excessive sexual intercourse.
- Becoming pregnant again after a short time or re-pregnancy.
- Lack of emotional support, grief, sorrow and depression.
- Anger, grief, absence of affection for the child and fear.
Ayurvedic Treatment for improving breast milk production
- This description is given in Ayurveda to improve breast milk production.
- Use food articles that can increase Kapha.
- Use cereals like shastika shali rice (rice harvested in 60 days), barley, and wheat.
- Meat or meat soup is also good. Avoid meat of buffalo and pork. Fish is good.
- Cow's milk and curd are to be taken in diet.
- One should be allowed to take the delicious food articles of one's choice. The diet should be rich in liquid, sweet, sour and salty taste.
- More of cooked vegetables and pulses should be included in diet. Include licorice and bottle gourd in diet. Avoid mustard.
- Sweet porridge and other substances prepared with cane sugar is beneficial.
- Garlic and onion are also good stimulant. It can be added in vegetables, soups, pulses and other dishes.
- Coconut is also a good supplement.
- Milk is better processed with Rasayana or rejuvenative herbs of Ayurveda like Shatavari or Pippali (Long pepper).
- The diet should have adequate fat in the form of oils and clarified butter.
- Taking adequate milk in one's diet is also essential.
- Foods that are dry, crispy, light in weight like potato chips, corn flakes, and popcorn should be avoided. Coffee, smoking, alcohol and junk food should not be taken.
- Breast feeding mother should avoid excessive exercise. She should be at rest and should take proper sleep.
- Fatigue - both physical and mental should be avoided. Excess walking, hard and tiring work should be avoided. One must take sufficient rest and good sleep.
- Mind should be happy. Anger and grief are the states of mind that might interfere with the process of lactation. One should avoid sorrow, anger, fear.
- Milk treated with black pepper and long pepper can also be administered.
- Long pepper, dry ginger, haritaki can be given with ghee and milk.
- Body massage with Bala taila or sesame oil daily is advised.
- Asthapana basti (Therapeutic enema) with suitable herbs is recommended.
Sowbhagya Shunti benefits
Sowbhagya Shunti is an effective Ayurvedic medicine used in postnatal Ayurveda care. It is prepared in herbal jam / granular form. It is also known as Soubhagya Shunti. Shunti refers to ginger. Ginger is the main ingredient of this medicine. It is used in the treatment of complications that arise during postnatal care of the mother. It improves digestion power. It is also effective in the treatment of sprue, diarrhea.