I have nursed four babies and have never needed to take anything to boost my milk supply. However, I am aware that there may be some of you out there who may need a little help. First, what is a galactagogue?
It is a long word meaning “a substance that increases milk supply”. Herbs and medications that increase your milk supply are known as galactagogues (ga-lac-ti-gogs). If your milk supply is low, you might want to try using a natural foods, galactagogues or even prescription medication to help increase your milk production. The word “galactagogues” comes from the Greek “galacta,” meaning milk.
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The best way to increase your milk supply is to take galactagogues while you increase the number of times you pump and breastfeed your baby. Note that breastfeeding mothers have been taking galactagogues throughout history to increase milk supply.
I recommend you try the natural foods and pumping 8-10 times per day, and breastfeeding . Remember a pump cannot substitute for your little star’s sucking. It is the next best thing to do while breastfeeding is being established. Our aim when we use galactagogues in one main goal and that is to increase milk supply.
What About Beer And Alcohol?
Approximately 15% of breastfeeding women use herbs when they feel they need to increase their milk production. However, with the exception of Fenugreek, most of these herbal galactagogues have not been studied much to see if they do increase milk supply.
And while beer or alcohol is a traditional folk remedy for low milk supply, current studies indicate alcohol consumption is more likely to decrease infant consumption of milk than increase it (source). We really do not want your infant consumption to decrease. So this is something you should consider.
Herbal galactagogues: Can Be Very Effective
Some of the most well-known and anecdotally effective galactagogues are herbal. Tens of herbs are believed to increase breast milk for nursing mothers.
Many of these herbs stimulate mammary growth as well as provide hormonal support. Fenugreek, one of the most well-known galactagogues, is a Middle Eastern spice. Nettle, blessed thistle, and ginger are other popular herbs that are thought to improve milk production.
Keep in mind that taking certain herbs while breastfeeding can have adverse effects. Before adding them to your diet in the hopes of increasing your milk supply, it’s important to consult your doctor.
There are many common herbal supplements available that have been shown to be effective for increasing your milk production. Fenugreek is likely the most commonly used galactagogue.
A seed extract that can quickly increase milk supply, the recommended daily dose is 3.5-6 grams depending on your doctor’s or lactation consultant’s advice. Some women notice they have a maple syrup smell when taking fenugreek. It may also cause contractions or an allergic reaction, do not take fenugreek if you are pregnant or allergic to peanuts or soybeans.
This plant has been used as a medicine for hundreds of years and has been shown to increase milk supply. It works best when taken in combination with fenugreek. It comes in capsule or tea form and should be taken three times per day.
A type of pea, alfalfa has a mild effect on increasing milk supply and is often used in combination with fenugreek.
You can take alfalfa in pill, tea, or food form. Alfalfa sprouts have a pleasant, nutty flavor and have a number of health benefits. You can also make tea from alfalfa leaves or take as a tablet.
This herb can be a powerful galactagogue and is often taken along with a blend of fenugreek and other herbs. Do not use it in its fresh format as it is considered toxic; use only commercially prepared dry leaves for tea or capsules.
These herbal supplements are readily available online or at your local health food store. Talk to your doctor or lactation consultant before taking any supplements, particularly if you have allergies or are taking any prescription medications.
Let A Galactagogue Be Your Last Resort
Mama give these tips a try first
If you’re concerned about your milk supply, the first step is to contact a certified health professional to help you.
It may turn out that you’re worrying unnecessarily, and that both your milk supply and your baby are just fine. If your supply is on the low side, a lactation consultant will be able to make recommendations for improving production.
These might include:
- Skin-to-skin contact, which will release prolactin and stimulate oxytocin, two hormones that can help milk production
- Breast compression, a method of gently squeezing the breast as you nurse to encourage milk glands to let down more milk
- Comfortable positioning during breastfeeding
- Frequent feedings or regular pumping sessions- 8-10 times per day or every 2-3 hours.
- Pumping sufficient milk to meet you little star’s needs.
- Drinking lots of fluids- Never allow your body to get thirsty.
Most women will find that these methods are enough to improve milk production. Give them a try first.
It’s also important to avoid habits and behaviors that can inhibit your milk supply, such as:
- wearing bras, tops, or slings that bind your breasts too tightly. (Paid link here).
- using certain allergy medications, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or cetirizine (Zyrtec)
The cold and allergy medications can reduce your milk supply if you are on them a long time, but if you need them, its ok to get you well again. Make sure that you discuss with your healthcare provider.
Master Your Diet for Good Nutrition
The LLLI, nursing mothers is of the persuasion that breastfeeding mothers don’t need special diets to produce milk for their babies. Instead of worrying about incorporating certain foods, La Leche advises following a healthy, sensible diet.
Try to include:
- fresh fruits and vegetables e.g. Yams, beets, dark, leafy greens(kale
- Swiss chard
- collard greens and carrots which have added iron and minerals. These greens also supply the compound phytoestrogen, which may support lactation.
- a variety of whole grains
- protein sources from animals and plants
- high-quality fats.
Note that green papaya is the unripe fruit. It must be simmered until it’s soft enough to eat.
Fennel and fennel seed
In addition to their reputed antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, oats are a well-known comfort food. It’s thought that eating something associated with comfort may cause a woman’s body to release oxytocin, a hormone involved in the production of milk.
Chickpeas and lentils
Mamas there is nothing like breastfeeding your baby directly from the the breast. Breastfeeding your baby consistently is truly the best way to increase your milk supply. No foods or herbs have been reliably shown to increase milk production.
There have however been many testimonies of moms who testify that their milk supply have increased as a result of taking these herbs. I sure hope your breastfeeding However, most of the foods listed above are nutritious and safe to add to your daily diet.
I hope your milk production is getting better and better as time goes on. Thanks for stopping by today. Do visit again. Please like, or comment. I would love to hear from you. Remember God loves you. Ask for His help in all things. Before adding specific galactagogues to your diet, be sure to discuss them with your doctor.
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