Before I started breastfeeding, jungle juice was a party cocktail made in large buckets or cooler boxes, and dished out with a ladle. Only when I started doing a little bit of research into preparation for breastfeeding and maintaining a good milk supply did I stumble across this far tamer, but more valuable version!
The concept of Jungle Juice seems to be mainly a South African thing, perhaps other countries have different names for it, but any midwife, doula or lactation specialist that I’ve spoken to (and I’ve spoken to many) have recommended it in one form or another as a supportive measure to maintaining milk supply.
The concept behind it is to keep the mother hydrated and well supplied with essential vitamins that are crucial to the milk making process. There is some debate as to whether all the added ingredients are actually necessary, and some claim that just water will do the same trick, but speaking from experience I definitely found the days that I had Jungle Juice rather than plain water I produced far more milk and had a lot more energy than normal!
The traditional recipe calls for almost one liter of fruit juice, and almost half a bottle of Schlehen Blackthorn berry elixir, among other ingredients, which besides becoming very expensive, is also packed full of sugar and can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from thrush to high blood sugar to difficulty losing baby weight. I took a look at the recipe, and adapted it to my own tastes (and pocket!) and found that it worked superbly!
It is recommended that you drink 2l of the magic juice every day, but I often stretched my 2l batch over 2 days and supplemented with water or herbal/rooibos tea in between and found that it worked just fine! If Dad wants to get involved in breastfeeding and helping you out, making a batch of this every evening to chill in the fridge is a great job to ask him to do. I know I was so grateful to be able to go to the fridge every morning and know that my jug of juice was ready and waiting for me.
My recipe differs a little to the traditional recipe, but worked fantastically for me, and all of my friends that have tried it.
Rooibos Jungle Juice Recipe
1 Litre of Rooibos tea (3 or 4 teabags left in 1 litre of boiling water and allowed to cool)
30ml (2 tablespoons)Blackthorn Berry Elixir (Generic brands like this one from Clicks are far cheaper and often on special)
1 Sachet of Rehidrat (or generic) powder
1 Berocca or Cal-C-Vita tablet (make sure to get the one without caffeine)
1 cup of clear fruit juice (Apple or litchi or cranberry were my favourites)
Cold water to top up to 2l
Leave the rooibos teabags in boiling water and allow to cool. Once lukewarm, remove the teabags and add the berry elixir, sachet of rehydration powder, Berocca or Cal-C-Vita tablet and fruit juice. Allow to dissolve and then mix well. Add the fruit juice and top up to 2l with cold water and leave in the fridge to chill.
Decant into juice bottles to have handy throughout the day. Have 1 glass on waking and drink with every nursing session and meal. You may still find yourself thirsty as breastfeeding is very thirsty work, so remember to top up with water throughout the day.
The bulk of the recipe is made up of Rooibos tea, a delicious naturally caffeine free tea, packed with antioxidants to help keep your system clear of free radicals, rather than costly fruit juice. Black Rooibos also has no sugar, so the total sugar content of the juice is far lower than the traditional recipe, while doing the same job! The Blackthorn berry elixir is a well known galactagogue (substance that encourages milk production) and can be taken on it’s own if you’re having a particularly rough day! The rehydration powder helps to keep you well hydrated and your electrolytes in balance – which is crucial for milk production. The Berocca or Cal-C-Vita tablet are optional, but I found that they were a huge help in keeping my energy levels up. I chose to avoid caffeine while breastfeeding (although some research shows it’s not necessary) and these were great at helping with flagging energy levels! The fruit juice is for taste (and a few antioxidants and vitamins), so isn’t entirely necessary, but does make the Jungle Juice delicious. Try to use pure fruit juice rather than processed juice that is packed with added sugars and preservatives. Some people add 10 drops of Rescue Remedy to their juice, but I’ve never found that it’s helped me, so I decided to forgo that option.
I drank this religiously every day for the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding, and then cut down after my milk supply was established and continued to drink it on and off until my baby was about 3 months old. Once I returned to work, after 6 months and had to express, I noticed a big dip in my supply, and so I started drinking it religiously again and was amazed by the difference one day of drinking it made! On the Monday I expressed about 500ml in total during the day, I made sure I drank my jungle juice throughout the day on Tuesday and managed to express over 1200ml!