Kanika Chadda Gupta

breastfeeding

Anhoni Patel – Mrs. Patel’s

If you’re a breastfeeding mom, chances are you’ve heard of Mrs. Patel’s and have tried their line of lactation teas and treats. CEO and Founder Anhoni Patel launched the company 7 years ago in San Francisco when her daughter was just 4.5 months old (inspiring, right? #momgoals). Based on age-old Ayurvedic recipes that were passed down from mothers in her family, Anhoni is keeping traditions alive while building a community of women across the globe. A former writer, she loves that she has recently tapped her entrepreneurial spirit though her passion for good coffee and baked goods.

 

What inspired you to launch Mrs. Patel’s?

I wanted to help other mothers who were struggling with their breastfeeding and postpartum healing. After I had my children my mother made me special snacks, treats and teas that aided me tremendously and I wanted to share that healing and strength with other women. These were very old recipes that had been passed down from mother to mother within our family for generations and nothing like them were available to other women.

So many of my friends had tough postpartum periods and difficulties with their milk supply, and their struggles inspired me to start Mrs. Patel’s so that women everywhere could benefit from them as I did.

Tell us about your breastfeeding journey through pregnancy and motherhood.

I tried to be as informed as possible about breastfeeding when I was pregnant with my first child. I took an excellent breastfeeding class and had an amazing midwife who was also a lactation consultant. The best thing you can do for your milk supply is to nurse as soon as you can after giving birth and to do lots of skin to skin. Drink lots of (warm) water and take a deep breathe to relax! Stress and worry can really affect supply and health. And if you are having any issues, see a lactation professional as soon as you can. It can be a lot of hard work, but if you have the goal to breastfeeding/pump, then dedication and persistence are key. Though I had several tough moments – struggling through thrush, mastitis, a bout of low supply, an accident,  pneumonia, the flu, pumping at work – I was really dedicated to breastfeeding and giving my children breastmilk due to the numerous and substantial benefits it provides.

Is your mom proud of you for launching your brand with her namesake?

Yes – she is! And, besides hearing from women around the country who we have helped, having my mother be proud of our line is one of the most satisfying and joyful aspects of the business. We still work on every single recipe together!

What is it like juggling work life and mom life? Can you take us through a typical day?

I think the most challenging part of anyone’s day- be they a parent or not, a mother or a father, is time management. And the more people, projects and commitments you have in your life, the more strictly you have to manage your time in order to be able to focus clearly, accomplish your goals and prioritize your attention. You also have to be okay with not getting through your to-do list each and every day.

Like many, my life is very busy. To keep track of everything, I rigorously plan out each month, week and day. I usually wake up around 4am; I love waking up early – the house is quiet and I relish this slow, peaceful and calm time to myself. During these hours I check and organize emails, relax, workout, meditate and get ready for the day. If the children are not already awake, I wake them up around 7am and we get their breakfasts, lunches and snacks ready. And then I drop them off at our carpool or at school. I try to get into to work before 8am. I enjoy working long hours (for the first few years I began the company, I consistently worked 80-100 hours a week), which I don’t get to do as much these days. So I like to be the first person at work and then work as efficiently as I can. I am also heavily involved in the kids’ school and if there is a field trip or class event, I am lucky to have a flexible schedule to chaperone or attend/organize school events. Either myself, my husband or one of my best friends picks the kids up from school in the afternoon. If I am not picking up the kids, I try to get home by 5pm. I spend some time with the kids and then I begin cooking dinner. We always eat dinner together as a family every night. We try to get the kids in bed by 8pm and that is also when I go to sleep! This is our current schedule but it was different when the kids were younger and it will change as they get older.

Tell us about the Mrs. Patel’s product line.

We have three lines – Pregnancy, Lactation and, our newest line, Women’s Health, which can be enjoyed by any woman no matter what stage she is in.

The Pregnancy line features teas for each trimester of pregnancy addressing the issues a woman may have during those months.

The Lactation line offers treats, snacks and teas that aid in milk production and postpartum healing. We offer 7 different flavors of our Lactation Treats, including gluten-free and vegan options, two different lactation teas – sold as loose tea or in brew bags, and a versatile Lactation Sprinkle.

As moms, we never make time for ourselves. How do you do so?

I wake up very early and this is my special time to relax – I read, watch a show, exercise and meditate. I also have a wonderful group of friends who I love seeing on the weekends.

Who is MP’s ideal customer?

ALL WOMEN. Any age, pregnant or not, nursing or not. 20 years old or 75 years old. You just have to be a woman and like good food with herbs that can help you.  

With the popularization of breastfeeding (e.g. National Breastfeeding Month, Melinda Gates advocacy), what has MP done to make its mark?

Our mission is to support women. We offer a free weekly Q & A session on our Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/mrspatels) with lactation counselor and postpartum doula where women from anywhere in the world can ask questions and be heard. We have a private community group on Facebook where women can go to share their experiences, ask questions and support one another. Through our social network platforms, we create and cultivate community and offer authentic views about pregnancy, breastfeeding, postpartum and motherhood. And soon we’ll be launching a blog section on our web site (http://www.mrsmilk.com) addressing various topics relevant to our community, featuring posts from various experts. We are also ardent supporters of World Breastfeeding Week and Black Breastfeeding Week as well as promoting breastfeeding and women’s health in communities of color.

How are you different from competitors on the market (e.g. Mother’s Milk Tea, Milky Mama)?

A: We are the only woman-owned & mom-owned company out there using Ayurvedic herbs for pregnancy, lactation and women’s health in handcrafted, artisanal foods and teas which meld the ancient with the modern. Our special products are also based on family recipes which are hundreds of years old and have many years of wisdom behind them.

What advice do you have for mompreneurs?

Just go for it. Make a plan, of course, and go slowly, but there is only one way to start a business – and that is actually starting it and going for it.

Tell us the mantra you live by?

A:  You can’t lose if you don’t quit.

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk – Increase Your Supply!

One night, around midnight, I was feeling especially exhausted from the long day of work and “change-feed-put down to sleep” (repeat 11x times 2) routine. Half asleep, I propped up my hospital grade Medela breast pump on my night stand, plugged in the necessary parts (which look like you’re about to build a handheld periscope or a mini beer funnel), plugged in and was ready to go. After my session completed, I took the bottles off without their caps and placed them in my lap for just a second. As I turned to put away my phone, I noticed that I spilled the milk on me, the comforter, and onto the floor. “Nooooooo!!!!” I literally cried over spilled milk. That stuff is liquid gold! I wasn’t producing as much as I had hoped at the time (especially since I had two mouths to feed who were a month old), so I decided to take my milk production into overdrive. Here’s what I did:

  1. Supply and demand. I got on a breastfeeding & pumping schedule where I would alternate nursing the kids, pump, or tandem breastfeed when the three of us were up for it (using a Twin-Z pillow. It’s amazing!). Any lactation consultant will tell you that breastfeeding increases one’s supply since a child can extract more milk than a pump, and the more you do it, the more you produce. I didn’t exclusively breastfeed since my babies were given bottles at the hospital, but I nursed and continue to nurse as many feeds as I can and pump the rest. I just listen to my body’s cues and take breaks if I need to rest.
  2. Water. This seems like a no-brainer, but believe me, good ol’ H2O works wonders. When nursing, you need the additional liquid intake to flush out toxins and keep your body hydrated in order to produce milk. I drink a pitcher of water a day (8-10 eight oz. glasses). I always drink a full glass during a feed or pump session.
  3. Oatmeal. Oatmeal is an excellent source of iron and since many mothers face maternal anemia, the high doses of iron in oatmeal and bran cereals help increase supply. I eat oatmeal (I love Red Mill Rolled Oats) with walnuts, blueberries, and a touch of honey every morning.
  4. Warm Compress. Sometimes low blood circulation is the reason for inadequate milk supply. You can combat this with warm compresses with a small towel or Lansinoh Therapearl 3-in-1, which I highly recommend. You can use it as hot therapy (for plugged ducts and let down), cold therapy (for pain relief from soreness), or as an aid while pumping.
  5. Fenugreek. Fenugreek contains phytoestrogens that are believed to stimulate sweat gland activity and since mammary glands are modified sweat glands, consumption can create an increase in milk supply. Methi is the Hindi term for fenugreek and it’s a staple in Indian cooking. I take methi seeds raw (1/2 a tsp) swallowed with an 8 oz. glass of water every morning. If you can stand the bitter taste, you can also soak the seeds in water overnight, boil the solution with the seeds, strain it, and drink the tea. You can even ask your mom or mom-in-law (God bless them!) to make you methi ladoos which are an age-old cure-all for new moms. Here’s a recipe we used. When you make these ladoos in a big batch, put half in the fridge and the other half in the freezer (they last for 6 months!)
  6. Fennel. Fennel seeds are a known galactagogue, or substance that helps the body produce more milk. In addition, fennel seeds aid with digestion and prevent colic pain in babies. Add a tablespoon of fennel to one cup of hot water and let it steep for 30 minutes. Drink this tea twice daily for best results. You can also mix 1/2 cup of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and rock candy (misri) in a bowl and grind it all up into a powder. Have one teaspoon with milk three times a day. If nothing else, you can add fennel into your cooking and masala chai. It’s the best.
  7. Cumin Seeds. Cumin seeds are believed to stimulate milk production and also combat acidity, constipation, and bloating. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds with a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Take this mixture with a warm glass of milk before bed. If you want a solution that’s more concentrated, you can add 2 teaspoons of cumin to 1/2 cup of boiling water. Strain the cup and add 1/2 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of honey for taste.
  8. Cinnamon. According to Ayurveda, cinnamon may help improve the flavor of your breast milk and babies seem to like it. Mix a pinch of cinnamon powder with 1/2 teaspoon of honey and drink it with warm milk. You can also add cinnamon to your tea. 
  9. Garlic. Garlic is also a known galactagogue. According to studies, nursing mothers who eat garlic tend to feed longer and babies seem to like the flavor of the milk. Grate 3 garlic cloves. Boil the garlic in water so that it is reduced to 1/4 the portion. Add a cup of milk and bring it to a boil again. Remove from heat, strain, and 1/2 teaspoon of honey. Drink this elixir in the morning. 
  10. Supplements. I take a lot of pills. Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, Fennel Seeds, and Malunggay are meant to increase milk production. For good measure, I also take my prenatal capsule, Immune Support gummies, and a probiotic. I know my body only retains what it needs and discards the rest, but I feel this miracle mix is working for me.
  11. Lactation Cookies. These special cookies contain ingredients like brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, flax seed, and whole oats, will all impact milk production. Shout out to What’s Up Moms’ awesome recipe. Watch and bake along here.

These Ayurvedic home remedies have been passed down for generations in my family and I managed to find variations of these recipes online. What I love most is that they are all natural, which means no side effects! Let me know if these tricks work for you. And if nothing else, make sure you close your pump bottles so you’ll never have to cry over spilled milk!

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