Labor, delivery, and recovery can be a stressful time in any woman’s life, and this stress may impact your milk supply. If you’ve tried nursing your baby more often and that doesn’t seem to be increasing your supply, it may be time to investigate other avenues. Several natural options exist to help you increase the quality and quantity of your milk. Here are five natural lactation enhancers to help you create the best possible breastfeeding experience for you and your baby.
Although no conclusive scientific studies exist examining the effects of blessed thistle and lactation, many mothers and lactation consultants support its use through first-hand accounts. Many herbalists consider blessed thistle to be a galactogogue, which is a substance that can increase milk supply. It should be noted that blessed thistle is a member of the ragweed family; women who suffer from severe allergies have reported experiencing the same reactions when taking this herb.
You’re probably already familiar with fenugreek; it is a common ingredient in artificial maple syrup as well as curry powder. Fenugreek has long existed as a successful galactogogue for centuries. This herb is available over-the-counter and is typically taken in pill form; however it can also be consumed as a powder or tea. Dosage should be discussed with a health care professional such as a doula, lactation consultant, or naturopath. Typical dosage includes several capsules a day or two to three cups of tea daily. Women report seeing a notable increase in their supply after several days, though it may take up to two weeks. Fenugreek comes with an interesting side effect: your sweat and pee may begin to smell like maple syrup!
Other reported side effects include nausea and mild diarrhea, although these side effects are less common. Women with peanut or chickpea allergies may wish to avoid fenugreek as it is in the same plant family. This herb can also reduce blood glucose levels, so mothers with diabetes or hypoglycemia should monitor their blood glucose levels while taking this herb.
Fennel seed is a popular herbal support for low milk supply in many European countries. It is often combined with anise seed and brewed as a tea. Fennel contains a compound called anethole, which behaves similarly to estrogen in the body. Since estrogen is responsible for supporting the mammary glands and their production of milk, consuming fennel can lead to an increase of milk supply. Most evidence suggests that teas are the most effective method of enjoying fennel seeds; two to three cups daily should provide an increased milk supply over the course of two weeks. Fennel possesses a distinct licorice taste that some women find unappealing.
Lactation cookies offer moms a tasty way to enhance their milk supply and quality. Nutrient dense and full of galactogogues, they can be easily created at home or purchased through several companies online. The main ingredients found in lactation cookies include whole oats, brewer’s yeast, and milled flax seed. Although recipes may vary slightly, all recipes contain these core ingredients. Others may include a variety of ingredients such as fenugreek , fennel seed, kelp, nuts, and chocolate chips!
Although this is the cheapest way to enhance your milk supply, it may also be the most difficult. Adjusting to a new schedule, functioning on much less sleep, and general worrying can all take a toll on both the mind and the body. However finding just 30 minutes to mediate or otherwise relax can ultimately help your milk supply. The less stress your mind feels and the less tension your body experiences, the more likely your body is to produce milk on demand. Napping, enjoying a quiet moment with a cup of tea, or taking a thirty minute walk in nature are all wonderful ideas to help increase your milk supply.
When pumping or putting your infant to your breast more frequently just aren’t helping your milk supply, try one or more of these five natural lactation enhancers. The key to achieving results is consistency; you must take the supplements as recommended. It’s also good to keep in mind that natural supplements are not regulated by the FDA and their quality may greatly vary; your lactation consultant, midwife, doula, or OB should be able to recommend a quality brand. While you won’t see results overnight, you should notice a change within two weeks of adding these natural supplements to your diet.
For more information regarding natural lactation enhancers, consider visiting the following websites:
Kathryn is a baby-wearing, cloth diapering, DIY mom to her quickly growing and pretty cute toddler. When she isn't researching and writing about natural approaches to pregnancy and parenting, she's acting out her favorite children's books or singing off-key made-up songs.