Most mothers who choose to breastfeed their newborns quickly find out that it's not as easy as it may sound. That was certainly my experience. From latching issues to tongue-tie revisions to frequently clogged ducts and serious infections to struggling to maintain adequate milk supply, my baby and I had our own very unique journey with breastfeeding.
Not to mention all of the emotional issues that arise during the postpartum phase -- feelings of inadequacy, lack of confidence, uncertainty, fatigue, anxiety, depression -- to name just a few. Like many mothers, I learned so much along the way and I feel very strongly that it is my duty to pass along what I've learned in hopes that another mother will find it helpful for her and her baby to establish a healthy nursing relationship, whatever that may look like.
One of the first things I learned was that it can be hard to know where to turn for advice, and so it is up to us mothers to share our stories and resources so that it becomes easier and easier for new mothers to find the support they need. Milk circles, Facebook forums, La Leche League meet-ups and family and friends are all great ways to share and receive information. So much gets shared this way -- which health care professionals are best for each breastfeeding issue, which herbs can help support a healthy milk supply, how to best deal with clogged ducts and mastitis -- and SO much more.
FLOWER ESSENCES AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING In this article, I'd like to share information about flower essences that can help nursing mothers and their babies by supporting their emotional well-being. This is a topic that discussed very often in the typical breastfeeding forums and circles. Flower essences can be a wonderful addition to any protocol related to many of the most common breastfeeding issues because they work in a different way than other remedies. Flower essences are unique in that they support emotional well-being by addressing energetic imbalances in the body, whereas other herbal remedies (such as tinctures and teas) work on the physical body itself.
For the best one-on-one help to determine which flower essences are most appropriate for each mother's unique needs, it can be helpful to work with a Certified Flower Essence Practitioner or other health care professionals who have had additional training and experience working with flower essences. The resources below can also be a great place to start if the new mother wishes to explore flower essences on her own.
HOW TO TAKE FLOWER ESSENCES FOR BABY AND MAMA Flower essences can be taken by a breastfeeding mother to benefit her and her baby. When the mother takes flower essences, they are safely passed through her breast milk. The essences can be taken 4 drops 4 times a day on the tongue or added to a glass of water.
Flower essences can also be given to the baby on the soles of a baby's feet, palms of their hands, crown of the head, swabbed on the anus and around the belly button, forming a starfish pattern. The placement of flower essences in a starfish pattern is based on the baby's in utero starfish pattern (as described by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, RSMT). Placing flower essences in this pattern can help babies find their center and connect with the mother's body. The baby should then be held skin to skin by mother as much as possible, or by a loving primary care provider.
FLOWER ESSENCES FOR BREASTFEEDING The following list of flower essences can be helpful to address many of the most common issues related to breastfeeding:
Five Flower Formula (by FES) / Rescue Remedy (Bach Flower Remedies) -- a helpful essence to always have on hand to calm stress and anxiety, helping both baby and mama relax and bond, which encourages successful breastfeeding.
Manzanita -- to help mother and baby bond to support breastfeeding success; also to address emotions around difficulty in latching, especially if baby was fed by any other methods in the first days and weeks after birth.
Mariposa Lily -- can be helpful for both mother and baby if breastfeeding is difficult.
Shooting Star -- to help mother and baby connect and bond.
Crab Apple -- for accepting one's physical self and for help with earthy physical activities, such as breastfeeding.
Mustard -- helpful support for postpartum depression.
Walnut -- provides protection against outside influences (such as unwanted advice and opinions) and offers support during a big transition, such as becoming a parent.
Cerato -- helps us to tune in to and listen to our mother's intuition.
Olive -- assists a new mother in to restoring strength in the days and weeks after giving birth.
Elm -- helps to build confidence in a mother and baby's ability to breastfeed.Gentian -- helps to ease feeling of disappointment if things aren't going as planned.
Grace Formula (by Flower Essence Society)-- to assist with transition into motherhood and to aid the mother's body in healing after birth.
Saint John's Shield (by Flower Essence Society, not a flower essence but a very helpful oil infusion) -- to help with postpartum depression and mastitis.
RESOURCES The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy by Mechthild Scheffer
The Bach Flower Remedies by Edward Bach, MD and F.J. Wheeler, MD
Writer Amy Timmons Malek, CCN, CCH, INHC is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Certified Clinical Herbalist, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Flower Essence Practitioner. She discovered her love for plants in the Sonoran Desert while living in Tucson, AZ. She has been studying plants of the Mountain West and Southwest for 10 years. Her many teachers include Paul Bergner, Rosemary Gladstar, Dr. Aviva Romm, Lisa Ganora, Kat MacKinnon, Erin Smith, John Slattery and Charles Kane. Her career is divided between Holistic Health, Graphic/Web Design and Marketing/Social Media Consulting. She is currently WishGarden's Social Media Coordinator. She lives in Boulder County, CO. She enjoys wildcrafting and growing her own medicinal plants and making a variety herbal remedies. She sees private clients at the Inner Ocean Center for Healing in Lafayette, CO. You can learn more about her practice on her website, www.wholeheart-wellness.com.For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.