Ayurveda gives importance to breast feeding from two viewpoints- nutritional and psychological aspect. Nutritional value of breastfeeding has been recognized even by the modern medicine.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Ayurveda calls breast milk nectar because
- It is naturally sterile and breast feeding protects baby from many infections and diseases by making him/her immune to basic health hazards.
- Breast milk always stays at right temperature that is suitable for the child.
- Breast milk is a good store of IgA ad lectoferrin (not available in such high concentration in any other milk.) It makes the child against a variety of bacteria and protects the infant from many diseases.
- The milk available through breast feeding has got many digestive suitable for the newly developed digestive mechanism of the baby.
- Breast feeding also inhibits growth of E. coli, and poliovirus due to the presence of milk lactose, thus protecting the baby.
Ayurvedic Concept of Quality Breastfeeding Milk
As for normal ayurvedic diet, breast milk is also affected by the three doshas described by Ayurveda- Vata-Pitta-Kapha dosha. If there occurs any health problem in baby then the feeding mother should watch her diet. The quality of milk depends on mother’s diet as breast-milk is ‘Upadhatu’ of ‘Rasadhatu.’ Rasadhatu is made up of the food we eat. The big question here is-
How to know the quality of milk given through breastfeeding?
For this, place a drop of milk into a container with water and watch its behaviour.
- If the milk drop disappears into water, it is of good quality.
- If it sinks, it is heavy due to Kapha dosha. So, avoid Kapha provoking foods in diet.
- If the milk drop floats, it has Vata dosha and can result into child suffering from gaseous stools and gripes. The herb ‘Dashmoolarishta’ can be taken as its remedy.
- If the milk bcomes yellow, it has Pitta dosha. Take ‘Shatavari’ herb as remedy to excessive Pitta.
Ayurvedic Diet Tips for Breast Feeding
There are certain dietery regulations prescribed by Ayurveda for breastfeeding
- Breast feeding mother should take adequate amount of Ghee (clarified butter) and oil in order to improve digestion, smooth bowel movement, for nourishing stressed tissues, and to subdue the vitiated Vata Dosha (that generally gets aggravated during the process of childbirth.)
- The best breast feeding diet, according to ayurveda is a simple, bland vegetarian food with lots of vegetables and fruits. To make the food tasy, one can use natural harmless spices in moderate amount such as turmeric, black pepper, cumin, carrom seeds etc.
- Too much of canned foods, hot, pungent, and spicy food should be avoided by breast feeding mother because they decrease milk secretion.
- If breast milk is scanty, mother should take mixture of almond milk and herbs. For this, soak ten almonds in water overnight, peel and grind them by adding a cup of hot milk to make puree. Pour the almond milk into a glass and add a pinch each of ginger powder, cardamom and saffron along with a teaspoon of date sugar or honey. Drink this milk twice a day for better quality and quantity of breast milk.
- If having pitta or kapha doshas,breast feeding mother must drink three to four cups of pomegranate juice daily to regulate lactation. Women having Vata dosha must avoid pomegranate juice as it can aggravate this dosha.
- Vegetable and pulses soups should be taken in adequate amount.
- Breast feeding diet should be rich in fluid, sweet, sour and salty taste.
- Jaggery, asfoetida and jatiphala should be added to diet as also garlic and onion as they are also good stimulant. They can be added to vegetables, soups, pulses and other dishes.
- Cow’s milk and curd should be included in diet.
- Dalia- broken wheat – is a good option for increasing quantity of breastmilk. Add some dalia with rice, pulse (preferably moong dal), sesame seeds, carrom seeds (ajwain) and salt with water. Pressure cook or boil them till tender and have it once or twice daily.
Ayurveda says that quality and quantity of breast milk is negatively affected by such factors as anger, grief, lack of feeling of love or relatedness toward the baby, excessive dieting and physical exercise, fatigue, having too much of dry foods – without fat or oils, excessive sexual intercourse, too much use of purification processes of Ayurvedic panchakarma, becoming pregnant within a short time period. So, alongwith paying attention towards ayurvedic breast feeding diet, one must also avoid having negative feelings and too much stress – physical or mental- and must relax body and mind through meditation etc.