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My Experience With A Menstrual Cup (Guest Post)

 

Bree Miller has been an admin of Breastfeeders in Australia since it’s creation, over four years ago.  Here she tells us about her positive experience with a menstrual cup

Menstrual management was never really high on my list of priorities. Before I had kids I was on the pill almost non-stop so I rarely ever let myself get a period.

I was never a huge fan of tampons because they were uncomfortable and made me feel dry inside, and pads left me feeling dirty and damp. I didn’t realise there were any other options so I used them out of necessity. After I had my kids hormonal birth control sent me a bit bonkers so I could no longer use it, meaning I had to contend with my monthly mess again.

With the change in the shape of my body tampons now felt incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes painful so they were impossible to use. I was desperate to find an alternative that suited me. I tried cloth pads. While they met my needs in terms of reducing wastage and cost they still made me feel damp and it meant that certain activities, like swimming, were off the agenda while I had my period.

The only other option on the market was a menstrual cup. Honestly, the thought of putting a (seemingly large) plastic cup in my vagina freaked me out a bit. So I put it off for ages. About 2 years ago I finally gave in and built up the courage to order one. It arrived within a few days and thankfully it wasn’t as big as I had imagined and very soft and flexible.

I don’t think I have ever been so excited for my period to come, I just wanted to test it out. It took me two or three cycles to get my groove and fall in love with it. I eventually worked out that I must have a shorter vagina than normal and the stalk (the part that you grasp to remove it) irritated me a bit, but this problem was easily solved by turning the cup inside out. Alternatively it could be cut shorter or off completely.

Once I worked out which folding method suited me it was a breeze. It is the most comfortable form of menstrual management I’ve ever used. I never find myself too damp nor too dry. I could wear it for up to 12 hours so I rarely needed to empty or change it outside of my own home, even at night or on heavy flow days. And I was saving a bucket load of money on disposable products not to mention that my conscious was clearer because I was no longer contributing so much to landfill. I became more aware of my bodies cycles. And my menstrual pain decreased significantly.

Yes menstrual cups do take some time to get used to (usually 3-4 cycles). They are not for everyone. But the benefits of giving it a try well and truly outweigh the bother of learning a new technique for managing our bodies.

Bree Miller

Mentrual-Cup-Pros

Green your cycle and get 20% off all JuJu products including JuJu Menstrual Cups and JuJu Cloth Pads.  Use the coupon code BreastfeedersAus at the checkout at www.juju.com.au.  Limit of 1 use per customer.  JuJu is the only Australian made and owned brand of menstrual cups.

 

There is no affiliate relationship between Breastfeeders in Australia or the Peaceful Lactivist and JuJu – the discount code is just a discount code, no commissions are being earned.

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Galactagogues

Today I wanted to take a few moments to have a chat about galactagogues. The admin team of the Breastfeeders in Australia Facebook group has noticed a strengthening trend in the recommendation and reliance on galactagogues – both perceived and proven – over the past couple of years. So I thought I would take a little time to look at the trend.

 

A galactagogue is a food or drug which increases mother’s milk.

 

There are synthetic pharmaceutical galactagogues such as domperidone and metoclopramide which increase the production of prolactin. These are generally used as a last resort when every other option has been tried and failed with the mother still experiencing chronic low supply. As with any synthetic drug the decision to use them is a serious one as the risks (dependence, cost and side effects) and benefits need to be weighed by each individual in their particular circumstance with their medical professional.

 

There are also herbal galactagogues such as fenugreek, blessed thistle, torbangun, chasteberry moringa and goat’s rue. As with many natural alternatives research is limited and preparation, purity and dosage may compromise their effectiveness. Just because herbs are natural doesn’t automatically mean they are safe. While they may have a lactogenic effect they may also have negative side effects and contradictions. Please consult an experienced herbalist before choosing to use any herbal remedies. Also remember to tell your doctor, especially if you are using any prescription medication. It is also important to note that depending on the claims made, or not, herbal supplements, vitamins, minerals, aromatherapy and homoeopathic product do not necessarily need to be register with the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) and may contain fillers or ingredients not listed on the packaging.

 

Then there are the perceived but unproven galactagogues. These are generally passed by word of mouth because one woman has experienced effect she may attribute to one particular food. Some of these we have seen purported recently are –

Oats/oatmeal

Malt

Brewers yeast

Chickpeas

Sports drinks

Leafy green vegetables

 

While consuming these foods in the quantity suggested can result in an increase in breast milk supply it is more likely that it is a result of extra calories than any lactogenic effect.

The best thing a breastfeeding mother can do to ensure a good supply, barring any diagnosed medical issues, is make sure she is drinking enough water and eating enough food. While there is no recommended daily water intake a good tip to remember is to drink a glass of water each time you feed as well as enough to quench your thirst through the day. A breastfeeding mother usually needs around 500 extra calories per day than usual to maintain her health. A balanced and varied diet packed with plenty of vitamin and mineral rich foods is essential for a healthy mum and baby. For specific guidelines the best course of action is to see a dietician to set out your personal macronutrient ratios.

 

When considering consuming galactagogues ask yourself first –

Am I experiencing low supply? (is baby having enough wet and dirty nappies, gaining weight etc)

Why do I feel like I need to increase my supply?

Can I improve my water intake and diet?

 

Please consult your medical professional if you have any concerns about your or your baby’s health. Genuine low supply is a serious issue and should not be ignored.

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