I've had this conversation a couple of times recently, so decided to share these 5 Gentle and Effective Detox Practices you can do while breastfeeding.
But, first... what am I talking about when I say detox?
In the beauty and wellness industries detox often is synonymous with weight loss, but among the yoga community detoxing is a practice for cleansing the body. Saucha- is sanskrit for cleanliness and it's one of the Niyamas, outlined in the sutras for healthy living. But the principle of cleanliness and cleansing practices, even in yoga circles, can end up bundled in with promises of weight loss and beauty; clear skin and so on.
Women who have just grown and birthed a baby do not need to be told to get the weight off or spend time on getting their beauty regime in order. In fact having my babies has made me care less about how I look and care more about how I care for myself and how I feel. So know that when I talk about detox--
I'm talking about feeling good with clean food and other practices that generate radiant sense of aliveness and VITALITY!
Backtracking a little.... In my postpartum haze I began reaching for cakes and I know I am not alone. It seems really common in the 4th trimester to want to eat sweet, doughy comfort food, to counter the vata/ spacious energy in the belly and although I could list a bunch of things which I know are better for me than cake (Ayurvedic rice stew, for example-- warm, slightly sweet, gently spiced and so nourishing) somehow the cake got me! The sugar increased the fog of sleep deprivation, and I wanted more and more. It's so addictive for me.
When summer came I did start to think about detoxing to get rid of my sugar addiction, get clearer in the head and feel more energised in my body. I also knew that cleansing would boost my immune function, and help improve my sleep.
Though as I'm breastfeeding, doing any kind of juice cleanse or taking strong supplements is out of the question. Strong detoxes can have two majorly negative effects; a toxic dump into the breast milk, which is not great for bub; and reducing calories for me right now could reduce my milk supply.
So here I'm sharing 5 gentle and effective detox practices you can do while breastfeeding.
1) Just Eat Real Food. Your body is designed to detox. It is hardwired to eliminate waste. So rule #1 is as simple as it gets: reduce the junk you put in-- quit processed and artificial foods and go easy on the sugar. Replace this junk with nutrient dense wholefoods, fruit and vegetables.
Try to keep your sugars to low fructose fresh fruit (kiwi, blueberries, raspberries, pear, honeydew melon, lemons, limes, grapefruits) and your body will thank you. You might get a sugar withdrawal headache when you do this, so try substituting those above mentioned fruits for the other sugary things you were used to eating OR substitute with protein, like a small tub of yoghurt or a few handfuls of nuts, almonds and walnuts are good!
In terms of veggies, eat your heart out. Go for the full colour spectrum; red, orange, yellow, white, purple and green, especially green leafy veggies as they help your body to naturally detox.
2) Dry Brushing. Your skin is your largest organ and is responsible for approximately 30% of your body's detoxing. Dry brushing removes dead skin cells aiding the body's natural detoxing process and increases circulation to the skin. Use a loofah or body brush (you can get them from natural food stores) and scrub your skin in a circular motion before you shower.
3) Lemon Water in the Morning- Lemon water is a great for helping balance the PH of your body. Despite being an acid, it actually alkalizes the body. It is cleansing for the digestive tract supporting better absorption of nutrients from food and it also helps liver function, the liver being one of the chief detox organs in the body.
Take your lemon water first thing in the morning, ideally 30 minutes - 1 hour before eating breakfast. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon in your cup. Fill the cup with 1/2 cold water, then top up with boiled water from the kettle. Don't pour the boiling water straight on the lemon juice - it kills the vitamin C!
If you want to be fancy and turbo boost your morning cleansing beverage, you can also add 1/2 tsp fresh or dried turmeric (anti-inflammatory), a pinch of cayenne pepper (metabolism booster) and a crack of black pepper (to activate the curcumin in the turmeric).
4) Drink Plenty of Water. Simply put when you pee, your body gets rid of toxins. Like I said, the body knows how to detox itself-- hello clever elimination systems! Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and help eliminate the toxins filtered out of your blood by your kidneys. These toxins then get delivered from the kidneys to the bladder and down and out they go!
On top of the detox business, breastfeeding is thirsty work, your body needs water to convert to milk. Make sure you stay hydrated especially on a hot day. If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated, so drink water regularly even if you don't feel thirsty.
You can incorporate some herbal teas to help you keep your water intake interesting, try fennel and fenugreek (wonderful herbs for boosting milk supply), peppermint on a hot day, (peppermint cools the body down) or chamomile before bed to aid good sleep.
5) Meditation. Detoxing it not just about the body. Meditation helps clear the slate in the mind. Take 5 minutes a day to sit and meditate. In my 4th trimester when my baby was feeding all the time, often used breastfeeding time as a prompt, to sit in silent meditation and slow down my breathing. Now that my baby is older and day feeds are brief and rather restless I need to practice meditation early in the morning, or after the children are in bed.
Not used to meditation? Try starting by sitting in a chair or lying down. Close your eyes and notice your breathing. If it's comfortable, try to breath in and out through the nose and gradually slow your breathing down. Slow, deep breaths through the nose pacify the nervous system and calm the mind. Concentrate on the sensations of breathing. Notice when the mind darts off, then bring it back to the feelings and sounds of your breathing.
Happy Detoxing Mamas!