Protect your milk supply by reducing stress!

Countless studies over the years have been conducted on the impact of stress, specifically cortisol on milk quality and – production. Studies found that stress is the number ONE killer of breastmilk that causes a Mum’s milk production to reduce heavily. This all has to do with the fight or flight instincts in mothers. This happens because stress decreases how much oxytocin is released in response to a baby suckling. There is the potential that this could result in the breasts not emptying as thoroughly. A decreased milk supply can happen if there are repeated feedings or pumping sessions where there is inadequate emptying.

Stress affects not only the quantity of your milk supply, but changes the hormone- and chemical composition of your breastmilk. Studies have found that breastfed babies have approximately 40 percent more cortisol in their systems than formula-fed babies, suggesting that the cortisol found in breastmilk is responsible for this increase. Called “secondhand cortisol,” the hormone enters the baby’s intestinal tract and prompts neurotransmitter signals that go to the brain, affecting the areas that regulate emotion. Though long-term effects of secondhand cortisol in nursing infants are unknown, a study from researchers at Arizona State University found that higher levels of cortisol corresponded to babies who easily cried or became agitated when placed in unfamiliar situations. Milk cortisol has been related to infant experimentally induced emotional fear reactivity, although this behavior was only observed in girls.

Experimental studies in breastfeeding women have shown that acute physical and mental stress can impair the milk ejection reflex by reducing the release of oxytocin during a feed. If this occurs repeatedly, it could reduce milk production by preventing full emptying of the breast at each feed. The mental stress of breastfeeding mothers is found to be associated with infants’ early behaviour and temperament. The difference in infant’s behavioural development and health may be related to the change in breast milk composition.

Recent research has shown that relaxation therapy in mothers during breastfeeding can improve mothers’ psychological state. This therapy helps them to be less stressed or more relaxed and improved infants’ behaviour and growth due to reduced cortisol level in breast milk. Moreover, less stressful mothers spend a longer time with their infants to comfort their infants and subsequently improved infants’ sleep.

Decrease stress and encourage the release of oxytocin by:

  • Excercising every day- exercise releases the “feel good” hormones that can help manage and reduce stress.
  • Practice breath-conscious exercises such as Yoga, Pilates and Mediation. Boho Beautiful has the best series on YouTube with a wide variety.
  • Make sure to get out of the house and socialize- even if you dont feel like it. Bonding with other humans increases oxytocin. Get plenty of physical touch such as hugs and cuddles with your baby and partner as this also encourages the release of relaxing hormones.
  • Take a long, soothing bath soak to loosen tensed muscles. The YML Bath Soak is perfect for healing sore muscles and reducing tension in the body. Use a lavender essential oil for further relaxation.
  • Make sure to get enough sleep or take naps in 20 minute bursts.
  • This is very important: Use a Probiotic! Your gut is responsible for most of the serotonin production in your body. Serotonin reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and controls the hormones in your body. If your gut is out of balance, chances are, your hormones will be too. Rawbiotics has an all natural range, perfectly safe for Mums. It can be bought online or at Dis-Chem.

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