Having a baby is a new and exciting experience that’s full of twists, turns and learning curves. Breastfeeding is often one of those learning curves. While the choice to breastfeed is a personal one, the many known benefits of breastfeeding have led many new moms to choose breastmilk over formula.
Unfortunately, some difficulties can occur—one of which is pain and discomfort. Depending on the child, there can be varying degrees of pain associated with breastfeeding. Some children are more aggressive (hello, biters!) than others, but there are ways to help prevent and reduce the uncomfortable soreness and dryness that sometimes happens.
While nursing balm products are available for purchase, they can be pricey or, worse, full of additives you don’t want your baby to ingest. Luckily, the ingredients to make your own nursing balm are easy to find and can be quickly prepared for a solution that’s 100 percent natural, safe and usable anytime.
Before you make a breastfeeding cream
When making your nursing balm, it’ important that you keep the ingredients as safe as possible. Here are some things to consider:
- Avoid using essential oils. Although these natural plant ingredients offer many benefits, they shouldn’t be ingested (unless food-grade oil is used). Essential oils also may be irritating or overwhelming (to both baby and mom!).
- Use only organic ingredients to avoid the risk of pesticides or other contaminants being ingested.
- Stay away from ingredients that contain common allergens. When choosing a base, opt for olive oil or cocoa butter over almond oil or coconut oil, as tree nuts are a common allergen and could cause a reaction in your child. Be sure to check (and double check) labels to ensure that you aren’t putting you or your child into any harm!
What to add
The perfect base for any nursing balm is an oil or butter. These provide natural oils to help moisturize and nourish your skin. Some great (allergen-friendly) options include olive oil, cocoa butter and shea butter.
Olive oil offers triple benefits: it's moisturizing; it's antioxidant; and it has anti-bacterial properties. Shea butter is a great moisturizer due to its high levels of vitamins A and E, and it may also help reduce inflammation, a common side effect of nursing. In addition, shea butter also contains essential fatty acids and vitamins that nourish the skin.
Other herbs and flowers are beneficial for hydrating and healing skin, including calendula. Calendula is a flower that can be found in many nursing balms, and has been used for many years as an anti-inflammatory, particularly on sensitive areas of the skin.
Try making your own balm with the recipe below!
DIY Shea Butter Nursing Balm
In double boiler, heat all ingredients until just melted, stirring to combine. Pour mixture into sterilized containers and let cool. The balm should be firm, yet spreadable. If it’s too hard to spread, re-melt and add more oil.
- Try out a variety of oils, butters and herbs to find the nursing balm that works best for you!
- Recycle old lip balm containers by boiling them in hot water before refilling them with nursing balm.