Increase your Milk Supply Naturally
Will that tea REALLY increase my breast milk supply…?
If you are a new mom and breastfeed your baby, you have likely come across hundreds of Pinterest pins dedicated to recipes for lactation cookies. Or, you may have noticed the shelves at your local health food store stocked with pills and teas marketed toward nursing mothers. Will sipping on herbal teas and eating cookies loaded with oats and flax seed automatically cause your milk supply to increase? Not quite. A galactagogue — a substance that increases milk supply — will not increase breast milk supply on its own. It works best when combined with increased breast feeding frequency and/or milk removal from the breast. In other words, you have to keep stimulating the breast by either nursing your little one or using a breast pump every 2–3 hours (or 8–10 times in 24 hours).
A galactagogue can be of three types — prescription medication, food, and herbal remedies. The combination of pumping breast milk or breast feeding and consuming these galactagogues help increase the levels of Prolactin in the bloodstream. Prolactin is a hormone that stimulates production of breast milk, and is made by your pituitary gland.
Let’s take a look at some of the commercially available herbal supplements:
Fenugreek: The most commonly recommended herbal galactagogue. It has been a staple of the Indian and Middle Eastern diet for thousands of years, and used for its Medicinal properties as well. Its ability to increase milk production in humans has not been proven. It can be taken in capsule form or as a tea. Recommendations vary on a recommended or maximum dose. Beware — your sweat and urine will start to smell like maple syrup when you consume Fenugreek, because it contains an aromatic compound also found in molasses. Consult with your Physician before using this herb if you are on Anticoagulants (Blood thinners), or are being treated for Diabetes Mellitus.
Blessed Thistle: Also known as Milk Thistle or St. Mary’s thistle. Used widely throughout Europe. It is consumed as a tea, either alone or in a mixed tea blend.
Fennel Seeds: A staple of the Mediterranean diet, it has been used to increase the Milk Ejection. Be careful with using too much of this seed in your cooking or as a supplement; it has been found to mimic estrogen and may actually decrease your breast milk production in large amounts.
Goat’s rue: Widely used in Europe after it was discovered in the 1900’s to cause an increase in milk supply when fed to cows. It is commonly used in the form of a tea. Effects on lactation in humans has not been studied. If you are Diabetic, consult your doctor first before taking this supplement.
Still have questions about herbal remedies and breastfeeding? Get in touch with your Pediatrician or a local La Leche League leader to find a Lactation Consultant. Stay tuned for next month’s post, where I discuss Nutrition for Breastfeeding Moms! ❤
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