The mum behind the little capsule giving big lactation support.
When Two Islands founder Jules Matthews posted a call-out for people to try her new lactation support product – which at that point was still in its testing stages – she was flooded with responses from mothers who were keen to try it.
While the engagement and interest was exciting, it was also tinged with sadness, because it reiterated to Jules just how common milk supply issues are for women in New Zealand – an area of women’s health that was about to become personal, as she was pregnant with her first baby.
“I’d heard about friends’ struggles with milk supply when breastfeeding,” says Jules, who, three years ago, launched Two Islands, a supplement company perhaps best-known for protein and collagen products. “Finding wellbeing solutions or people really fills my cup,” she smiles, “as well as giving me ideas for Two Islands.”
It’s no surprise that busy and sleep- deprived mums need convenient and fast- working products that are backed by quality and trust. So Jules and nutritionists Jess Blair and Emily Jensen started formulating.
The perfect formula
The trio researched therapeutic plant extracts that support healthy breast milk supply, along with ingredient ratios and daily dose requirements for their casually labelled “milk maker”, which eventually became the official product name!
“It was always a given that we’d have our formulation in capsule form; I’m all about convenience,” laughs Jules, who has Milk Maker’s ingredients tested and made at a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) in Hamilton. “The main ingredient is fenugreek, one of the most popular herbs used to enhance healthy breast milk supply and volume. It’s also a digestive aid, supporting gastrointestinal comfort. Fenugreek is slightly bitter, so popping one capsule a day rather than drinking it in powder form means women aren’t put off by the taste and we don’t have to add any unnecessary sweeteners.”
ANXIETY SUPPORT: Milk Maker also contains Shatavari, a herb to help combat stress and overwhelm.
The women who trialled Milk Maker prior to its launch were impressed, with all bar one enjoying an increase in milk supply, some in as little as four hours. “The physical success of the product was everything we’d hoped for,” Jules acknowledges. “But what also hit home was the emotional support the product gave to mums – because not having enough breast milk for your baby can make mums feel like a failure.”
Breastfeeding journey for Jules
Since Jules and her partner Cam welcomed their own baby into the world, they very much relate to the challenges that parents face. Their plan of a water birth for their own little lad changed when specialists decided a Caesarean section would be the safest option, due to their baby’s size. A 5kg (11.1lb) baby, Lenny, was delivered “out the sunroof ”, unfortunately with a broken arm which meant that he was taken away for x-rays immediately. “Lenny’s broken arm definitely made skin-to-skin contact, general snuggles, and breastfeeding more difficult, with feeding happening mostly from one side.” After a few weeks of breastfeeding and giving it her all “pumping”, Jules decided that Lenny was feeding better on formula.
“Breastfeeding just wasn’t for us. I did have a lactation consultant come over to help us, and that help was wonderful. But I don’t know if many new parents know that kind of support is available. If people feel like there isn’t any support and, in turn, stop breastfeeding sooner than you’d like, the emotional effects can be really damaging.”
Jules wants to continue to be a voice for mums struggling with breastfeeding or lactation issues, saying, “Milk Maker is not a solution to all the causes, but rather a helpful option for one of the many speed bumps that women experience postpartum. There’s so much more work we have to do as a country to help parents post-birth in the newborn stage, particularly those who have little support around them.”
There are a number of reasons why a mother’s breast milk supply may be affected. These include:
- Infrequent or short feedings
- An incomplete latch
- Some medications, antihistamines, or oral contraceptives
- Health conditions
- Premature birth
- Previous breast surgery or trauma