Lockdown-Inspired Book for Breastfeeding Moms and Families

Lockdown-Inspired Book for Breastfeeding Moms and Families

In times of great uncertainty (as today, with lockdowns continuing to be enforced across the globe), knowing which specific herbs, weeds, flowers, trees, vegetables, and fruit support milk supply can build our confidence in our ability to nurture the next generation.

With this in mind, I wrote the book A Mother’s Garden of Galactagogues: a Guide to Growing and Using Milk-Boosting Herbs and Foods from around the world.

Lactation-boosting plants are the “living medicine” of women’s ancient heritage, stretching all the way back to the pre-history of humankind. Many families are starting to garden, indoors and outdoors, in large and small spaces, in containers, and on countertops. This is your opportunity to re-connect with women’s ancient knowledge.

Breastfeeding is natural, but in the West, we have taken the natural out of breastfeeding by asserting that a woman’s body should function like a machine, independent of what we eat, and in spite of thousands of years of lactation-diets used around the world.

Many mothers have experienced that after receiving the guidance of a lactation consultant, a lactogenic diet helps them reach their optimal supply. Many testimonies and stories are found in the reviews for Jacobson’s book Mother Food, on amazon.com

The fact is that women have been using lactogenic food and herbs since time immemorial. Our Paleolithic foremothers discerned which plants most potently supported their milk supply and they relied on this support through times of drought and food scarcity. Breastfeeding–but also the plants that support lactation–ensured the survival of our species.

We in the West once had this knowledge, too. Sadly, it was lost after the fall of Rome in the epoch known as the Dark Ages, when medical and herbal know-how came under the jurisdiction of the Church. Women’s herbs were generally considered to be evil and were associated with witchcraft and magic, including the herbs for lactation. They were made illegal, and an attempt was made to erase them from memory.

Later, as medical schools formed in Europe, the medical profession would be practiced by men who had no first-hand experience with lactation. They were puzzled by breastfeeding difficulties but did not study the use of herbs, which were still associated with witchcraft.

As we entered modern times, medicine remained a man’s profession and the use of lactogenic herbs and foods–though used to promote milk production in dairy cattle–was dismissed as being irrelevant for women.

My recently published book helps us remember what we once knew, for instance, that common weeds such as purslane and dandelions are used to boost milk supply, as are many other plants that grow in our gardens, yards, fields, meadows, and forests.

We learn as well about studies from China, India, Iraq, Iran, and Jordan, that show how these plants actually build the mammary tissue. 

In times of great uncertainty (as today, with lockdowns continuing to be enforced across the globe), knowing which specific herbs, weeds, flowers, trees, vegetables, and fruit support milk supply can build our confidence in our ability to nurture the next generation.

With this hope in mind, I wrote the book A Mother’s Garden of Galactagogues: a Guide to Growing and Using Milk-Boosting Herbs and Foods from around the world.

 

Sow thistle – a multi-purpose “weed” that is a galactagogue

Sow thistle – a multi-purpose “weed” that is a galactagogue

Would you believe that this ugly weed that overruns gardens and fields is used by nursing mothers to support their milk supply?

Sow Thistle – Super Food for Moms

Recently, while writing on A Mother’s Garden of Galactagogues, I learned that the Sow Thistle is highly nutritious and that it has been studied for its medicinal effects, especially for its ability to relieve anxiousness. [i]

Because Sow Thistles can be grown on any type of land, in a residential garden, in containers, or a rooftop garden, the Sow Thistle is viewed as a potential commercial crop. [ii]

The leaves are high in protein and fiber, potassium, copper, calcium, manganese, zinc, and phosphorus. They are extremely high in vitamin C. They are a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, so essential to a well-functioning immune system.

Medicinally, sow thistle is liver protective, anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. They are thought to help prevent kidney and heart disease.

Main use for milk supply: leaves and stems, prepared as a concentrated broth, or as food.

Harvest: Varieties of sow thistle have differently shaped leaves. They may be soft with rounded edges (see the photos above), or tough and spiky-rimmed. The spiky leaves are tender when the plant is young, as in this photo, but as they age you’ll need to cut away the rim with scissors and soften the leaf with a rolling pin.

Food: Sow thistle leaves are delicious in early spring. They taste like sweet chard. They can be eaten in salad, boiled like spinach or sautéed in olive oil.

The unopened buds are also edible; they taste like hazelnuts.

Forgotten Galactagogue – Simmer that Thistle

Lactogenic diet: The ancient Greek doctor Dioscorides, (2000 years ago), lists sow thistle as a galactagogue.

The British herbalist Nicolas Culpeper described its use in 1653: The decoction of the leaves and stalks causes an abundance of milk in nurses.

Today, the use of sow thistle as a galactagogue is still remembered by the older generation in Italy.[iii]

Recipe: To make a “decoction” (a strong broth), simmer the leaves and stalks in water in a half-covered pot for 20 minutes. Sip a few teaspoons of the bitter liquid. Don’t overdo it.

Repeat the dose some hours later. If you tolerate it well, try repeating the dose every few hours for a few days. If after four days you notice no change, this plant is not going to have the desired effect.

Does this information intrigue you? If yes, you will enjoy my book A Mother’s Garden of Galactagogues, available now on amazon. It is full of planting info plus information for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Also – good news – I am working on a book that covers the biggest and most important secrets of using lactogenic herbs and foods effectively, with information seen nowhere else before—using lots of the plants that are listed in my gardening book. 🙂

It’s exciting!

 

 

 

[i] Xiu-Mei Li & Pei-Long Yang (2018) Research progress of Sonchus species, International Journal of Food Properties, 21:1, 147-157, DOI: 10.1080/10942912.2017.1415931

[ii] Xiu-Mei Li & Pei-Long Yang (2018) Research progress of Sonchus species, International Journal of Food Properties, 21:1, 147-157, DOI: 10.1080/10942912.2017.1415931

[iii] Geraci, Anna & Polizzano, Vincenza & Schicchi, Rosario. (2018). Ethnobotanical uses of wild taxa as galactagogues in Sicily (Italy). Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 87. 10.5586/asbp.3580.

 

 

 

 

A Poem for Gardening Mothers

A Poem for Gardening Mothers

Blue Borage Time

Your furry leaves and blue starflowers

Summon bees at all the hours,

Throughout spring and throughout summer,

Summon all the honey mummers.

 

How their nimble legs alight

Upon your blossoms’ azure shade,

They stop and nip your sticky dew,

Then fly away. 

Those bumbles, yellows, tiny blues,

Drunk – imbibing your sweet nectar –

Take no note of this defector

Spellbound by the view.

 

All I long for, all day long

As here I sit and hear their song,

(the buzz and zip as they dash past,

performing their important task ) 

Is just to sit and sit just here

‘Til your blue starflower light appear.

Sweet borage light—so brief, and clear!

When furry leaves wilt and winter is near,

Restore my will to grow,

Renew my strength to grieve,

For all new life will pass,

All starflowers go to seed.

Hilary Jacobson, 2020