Nothing compares to the joy of a new mom when she sees her child latch on to her and takes in breastmilk. Breastfeeding can be quite a gratifying experience with the plethora of health benefits it renders to both mom and baby. Not only does it provide immense nutrition to the child but also fosters a priceless bond between the mother and her baby.
To promote awareness of the many benefits of breastfeeding during the first six months of a newborn’s life, every year, WABA, WHO and UNICEF observe the World Breast Feeding Week from August 1 to 7. The theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2022 is “Step Up For Breastfeeding: Educate and Support,” and it chiefly helps magnify breastfeeding to the level of a public health commitment by motivating organizations and countries to develop measures to safeguard breastfeeding.
Prized as ‘Liquid Gold’, breast milk is one of the healthiest forms of milk and the first food that is given to newborns. Apart from the presence of abundant healthful nutrients like vitamins, protein, carbohydrates, fats, iron, and calcium, the breastmilk is enriched with colostrum. This nutrient-dense, yellow, watery, pre-milk secreted during the initial stages right after childbirth acts like a vaccine as it is high in antibodies and antioxidants that are quintessential to building a newborn baby's immune system and promoting overall development and well-being.
Motherhood though a blessing can be quite demanding. While trying to cope with the sudden hectic change to routine life including sleepless nights, lack of rest, racing against time to finish endless daily duties, and frequent nappy changes, many new moms even face challenges while breastfeeding. It can be quite stressful and agonizing for a mom to see her child not being able to feed properly.
There are multiple reasons behind it. While some babies find it difficult to latch on, others may face postural issues where the baby is not held up properly. But the most common one noticed in women nowadays is an insufficient supply of milk. Just after delivery, the period of breastfeeding can be quite taxing for the new mom, both physically and mentally.
Numerous components influence the failure of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months. But more than 80% of the reasons are caused due to the psychological state of lactating mothers. The stress endured by breastfeeding moms further leads to a reduction in the synthesis of oxytocin hormone (the hormone that helps in milk production). While underlying health issues that may be a component of breast milk reduction can be treated medically if the cause of reduced breastmilk production is due to stress, trust us, when we say, Yoga is your saviour.
Since a mother's milk is the gift of nature, this timeless approach is a boon for new moms to safely augment milk production. Moreover, most new moms spend several hours a day holding their newborns in their arms. This imposes a lot of strain on the arms, back, shoulders and lowers hip. Therefore, practicing yoga has manifold benefits towards enhancing your overall health and wellness. Apart from increasing milk production, certain yoga poses not only alleviate stress and diminish body pain but also combat postpartum depression, improve bone strength and promote overall fitness.
If your gynaecologist has already given you a green signal to start with light exercises, just grab a yoga mat and start doing these yogasanas to improve the flow of breastmilk and make your nursing journey a beautiful one.
Incredible Yogasanas To Boost Milk Flow
Marjari Bitilasana (Cat/ Cow Pose)
Kneel on all fours. Bend on your knees and keep your head up. Inhale and exhale deeply and lift your chin while pushing your head a little bit back. Keep your buttocks still and stay in this posture for 30 seconds or as long as comfortable while inhaling and exhaling deeply. Next, breathe out and curve your backbone upwards towards the sky. Relax your buttocks and curve the back as much as comfortably possible. Hold yourself in this pose for some time and repeat it 3 more times.
The Cat-Cow pose is like yin-yan or two sides of a currency and one of the best postures to boost milk flow. It clears up the channels throughout the body, improves circulation, and alleviates pain in the back, neck and other muscles. By inciting a feeling of peace within the mind and body, and helps in increasing the synthesis of the oxytocin hormone that causes milk production.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing dog pose)
Come on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart. Now, slowly raise your hips off the floor and straighten your elbows and knees. See that your body forms an inverted ‘V’. Now, press your hands firmly into the ground and stretch your neck such that your ears should touch your inner arms, and you should turn your gaze towards your belly button. Hold this posture for five-eight breaths and then return to the original kneeling position.
The downward-facing dog-pose is one of the most effective yogasanas for augmenting milk flow. It not only stretches the spine, the shoulders and the back of the legs but also sets loose trapped stress, and promotes overall blood circulation. Practising it regularly remedies insomnia as well.
Sethubandhasana (Bridge Pose)
Start the stance by lying flat on your back. Now bend your knees and elbows perpendicularly. Place your hands firmly on either side of the head and your feet flat on the floor close to the hips. While supporting both your hands and legs on the ground, slowly try to lift your body into the air horizontally to the ground. Be in this arching posture for 20-30 secs and slowly pull your body up into a standing position.
This is an extremely beneficial corrective posture for not only relieving body pain but also bolstering the leg, thigh and back muscles. By lifting the heart at a raised level than that of the head, it promotes blood circulation to even the most difficult and out-of-reach places. It also unwinds trapped stress, invokes calmness of the mind and promotes patience.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Lie flat on the ground with your stomach touching the floor. While keeping your head straight, touch the ground with your chin. Hold both your hands on either side of your shoulders. By, putting pressure on your palms, gradually lift your body from the torso while stretching your back and belly muscles. Straighten out your arms and keep your shoulder blades pressed against the back. Fix your gaze at a point on the ceiling and hold this posture for about 15-30 seconds while inhaling. Breathe out slowly and come back to the initial position.
The Cobra pose is one such yogasana that helps in mitigating a lot of health anomalies in one go. Not only does it open the chest, strengthen the spine and curtail lower backache but also stimulates the breasts and helps in milk flow. This pose also reduces stress and improves sleep.
Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
Lie down flat on your back and close your eyes. Relax your body and mind and reckon happy peaceful thoughts. Take your time while you do this. Breathe in and out normally and do not hold your breath. After some time, stand up and resume other activities.