Several of my friends are having new babies! I’ve made a variety of nursing balms lately for some of them, so thought I’d share a few recipes with you today.
I’m trying something different by posting three difficulty levels from super-easy to a bit more involved. That way, there’s something for everyone. I’m not sure that will work for all future recipes, but I like the idea, so will keep trying to implement it.
There are a lot of ladies out there who have had negative experiences when attempting to breastfeed. Many, many, MANY problems can be avoided or quickly taken care of by consulting a qualified lactation consultant or your local La Leche League.
When I had my first child, she was born on a Saturday after two days of induced labor. I was tired and overwhelmed, the breastfeeding expert that was usually on hand weekdays at the hospital was nowhere to be found, and my nurses kept telling me they had no idea how to help me figure things out, since they had all bottle-fed their children.
Breastfeeding was a miserable experience that I endured for about six days before quitting. Unfortunately, my daughter couldn’t tolerate any types of formula we tried, so one week later, I found myself at an appointment with a lactation consultant, who patiently helped me re-lactate. It wasn’t an easy or quick feat! My daughter had developed a very poor feeding technique because of the bottles (basically, she chewed instead of suckled. Yes, OUCH) and although I continued nursing her until she was 18 months old, it was never a comfortable feeling. I went through lots of nursing balm!
I don’t say all of that to scare anyone away from breastfeeding! Nursing was natural and painless with my second child, which is how it should be. Some discomfort is normal at first, hence the helpfulness of balms, but severe pain, bleeding and cracking all indicate a deeper problem and I highly urge you to consult your local La Leche League and/or a lactation consultant for further help before you give up.
Okay, the first “balm” is super-easy level. It’s made of: unrefined coconut oil and… that’s it!
Yep. Coconut oil is fantastic for soothing irritated skin and is about as safe as you can get! Simply massage the oil into your nipples after each nursing. If there’s any oily residue left, be sure to wipe it off before nursing again.
Note: Some people experience dryness with coconut oil. If symptoms don’t abate or get worse, discontinue use.
For this second nursing balm, you’ll need:
Combine these in a glass jar or pitcher and set in a pan half filled with water, until melted together. Stir several times as it cools, then spoon or pour into containers. (See Violet Leaf Balm post for further details, if needed.)
So, as an example, for the batch I made as shown above, I used 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and a little over 2 tablespoons of shea butter.
Shea butter is a wonderful moisturizer for dry, cracked skin, but can be quite difficult to apply since it’s so solid at room temperature. The coconut oil helps counteract that.
This balm stores best in a cool area since the coconut oil melts over 76 degrees F.
You can also chill the melted balm mixture, then whip it with a mixer until light and fluffy to make a cream-like consistency.
If you’re allergic to coconut oil, try olive or sunflower oil instead.
Now, for my favorite, but slightly more complex recipe, you’ll need:
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil infused with plantain and/or violet leaf (see Violet Leaf Balm post for further information on infusing herbal oils.)
- 1 tablespoon jojoba oil
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- scant 1 tablespoon beeswax (use less for a softer balm)
Melt all of these ingredients together in a heat proof jar or small glass pitcher that has been set down into a pot of almost simmering water.
Once melted, stir and pour into clean, sterilized containers. (Specialty Bottle has great prices.)
Please, no matter which type of balm you make, resist the urge to add any essential oils. Many of them are not safe for infants or nursing mothers, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
Also, you will want to apply the balm soon after nursing and gently wipe off any residue before nursing again. If you have had trouble with cracked, bleeding nipples and your breast feels very sore along with fever and flu-like symptoms, you may be developing mastitis and should seek the attention of a physician or naturopath. Dr. Sears has a good article on that: here.
Nothing in this post is to be construed as medical advice, but is simply a retelling of personal experience and what has worked for me, in the past. Not everyone will find these balms helpful, but hopefully, some of you will!
My favorite source for high quality herbs, oils, and butters is Mountain Rose Herbs.
One last thing to remember: you can use these balms for yourself and your baby, anywhere you have irritated or dry skin – such as knees, heels, elbows, diaper area, chapped cheeks, etc.
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