If you’re stockpiling your breast milk for future use, you’re probably wondering how to increase your milk supply. Well, some natural herbs and supplements can help increase your supply as well as improve your milk flow in case you’re dealing with chronic plugged ducts or mastitis.
Some of the most popular products that help increase breast milk supply include nursing teas, tinctures, and fenugreek. However, do they actually work? Do they have side effects you should be aware of?
In today’s article, I will discuss some of these products to help you determine which ones work best and don’t pose any danger to you and your baby’s health.
Afterward, I will explain why some herbs and supplements, such as CBD, should be avoided while breastfeeding, so let’s begin.
What is Galactagogue?
Galactagogue covers different products that can help increase milk supply and improve your milk flow. These products include various lactation teas, herbs like milk thistle, medications, and in some cases, even cookies.
You can find all of these products online and in most grocery stores. However, as with any supplement, medication, or herb, I strongly suggest letting your doctor know that you’re thinking about consuming it beforehand.
That way, if certain ingredients in these products aren’t good for you, your doctor can recommend other options before you begin taking them – saving you not only time and money but also possible health issues. Note that these products aren’t FDA-regulated.
Therefore, you should be very careful with dosages since they vary based on manufacturers. Now, let’s take a look at some of the best breastfeeding vitamins that can help boost milk supply and improve milk flow.
Breastfeeding Vitamins to Increase Milk Supply
The main issue with breastfeeding supplements and herbal supplements is that they’re not regulated by the FDA. Thus there isn’t a big motive to study them or fund studies.
As a result, most of these lactation supplements in practice are quite anecdotal. The results are so variable that it’s hard to determine if they’re helpful or not, which is frustrating.
However, products like moringa, lecithin, Reglan, fenugreek, and maybe goat’s rue can help. Below, I will discuss all these lactation supplements in detail, so let’s take a look.
Some nursing mothers prefer moringa over fenugreek because it’s been used in lactation worldwide for many years. However, in the last 5 years, this breastfeeding supplement has become more popular in the United States.
Gina Boiling, a clinical doctor for the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington, endorses moringa. She says that it has done amazing things for some of her clients and became their favorite supplement overnight.
The Moringa Oleifera plant has been studied in animals, and it’s proven to have a great nutrient content as well as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, says a study conducted in 2017.
Although more surveys on people are required, one study on nursing mothers discovered no side effects.
You can find it in capsule or powder form, or even tea. If you opt for a powdered moringa, you can add it to your morning smoothies. It also goes by “malunggay,” which is the Filipino name for moringa.
You can choose between sunflower-based and soy-based lecithin supplements. They’re great for helping milk flow, and they’re considered safe through pregnancy and postpartum.
In food products, lecithin acts as an emulsifier, preventing coagulation in milk in the duct. Health experts highly recommend it for moms with chronic plugged ducts or mastitis.
Metoclopramide or Reglan can be prescribed by your doctor to help you increase your milk supply. This medication works by boosting prolactin levels. However, one of the side effects is depression.
I personally wouldn’t recommend it for increasing your breast milk production, especially if you have a history or family history of depression. You should always talk to your doctor to determine if this medication makes a good choice for you.
Fenugreek for Boosting Milk Supply?
I’ve placed a question mark next to fenugreek because it’s kind of a mixed bag. Some moms claim that it caused them stomach pains. Despite being one of the most commonly used galactagogues, it’s also one with the most side effects!
Therefore, if you have a sensitive stomach, avoid fenugreek. Otherwise, you might experience diarrhea, gas, or GI issues, say experts. It can also decrease thyroid hormones and blood sugar, so you should also avoid it if you have diabetes or any blood sugar issues.
Some studies back that up! For example, 45% of breastfeeding women who used fenugreek reported an adverse reaction. Furthermore, it’s a part of the legume family. So, those allergic to chickpeas, peanuts, and legumes should be extra cautious.
Goat’s Rue for Increased Breast Milk Volume?
Native to the Middle East, this plant not only helps with lactation but digestion, liver, and adrenal glands as well. You can find goat’s rue alone or mixed into milk-increasing blends with other galactagogues.
However, note that most of the studies performed on this plant were small as well as poorly controlled. Therefore, while research doesn’t support using this plant, it can be worth a try.
The National Institutes of Health says that it’s well-tolerated. However, it might cause hypoglycemia, so nursing women taking antidiabetic drugs should be cautious.
Lactation Supplements to Avoid While Breastfeeding for A Healthy Milk Supply
The good thing about over-the-counter and prescribed medications is that they need medical oversight. Meaning, your health care provider will be able to specify the benefits and downsides of taking recipes based on labeling guidelines from the FDA.
However, that’s not the case with tinctures, teas, herbs, and breastfeeding supplements. So, you should be careful when purchasing these products. Now, let’s take a closer look at the few supplements you should avoid while nursing.
Sage tea is a herb that reduces breast milk, according to midwives and other experts. Sometimes if a mother doesn’t want to breastfeed or is giving her baby up for adoption, they give her sage tea along with some other things. So, if you’re trying to increase your supply, you should definitely stay away from safe tea.
CBD and Essential Oils
You’ve probably heard of CBD and essential oils. They’re super trendy at the moment. However, they’re also controversial. Therefore, skip CBD oils and essential oils just in case.
Some studies confirm the benefits of CBD oil. Still, it’s unclear what impact ingestion would have on pregnant women or during nursing. According to the NIH, the active substance in this oil, cannabidiol, hasn’t been studied, yet it has been detected in breast milk, so keep that in mind.
Essential oils, on the other hand, have been used for years. They’re derived from botanicals, but they’re also super-concentrated types of these natural ingredients with side effects.
I would also suggest that you pass on peppermint tea due to menthol. There aren’t many strong studies, but one 2014 report claims that peppermint has the potential to decrease milk supply.
How Can I Boost Milk Production While Breastfeeding Naturally?
There’s always some risk to taking any breastfeeding supplement. For instance, many women have seen a boost in supply when taking fenugreek, while others have experienced the total opposite.
Therefore, before consuming any lactation supplement, I would first try some other natural methods of increasing milk supply, such as the following.
Method 1: Follow Your Pumping Schedule
If you’re exclusively pumping, make sure that you’re following your strict schedule as much as possible. Also, you should at least pump for 2 hours per day.
Method 2: Massage Your Breasts While Pumping
You can massage your breasts during feeding or pumping to fully empty your breasts and, therefore, increase your milk production.
If you’re seeing your milk supply decreasing and you’ve been pumping for a couple of months, try replacing your breast pump parts because they can wear out and affect the suction of your milk and, therefore, your milk production.
Watch This Video: Breasts Massage To Increase Milk Supply
Method 3: Give Power Pumping A Try!
I recommend that you try power pumping daily for a week. It’s a good natural method to increase milk supply.
Just pick 1 hour each day or night and follow this schedule:
- Pump for 20 minutes.
- Take a 10-minute break.
- Pump another 10 minutes.
- Take another 10-minute break.
Furthermore, stay hydrated because some mothers noticed that being well hydrated seems to help them pump more. You can consume Gatorade, regular water, Body Armor, etc.
What if Nothing Works?
When nothing works, contact a lactation specialist. If you’re struggling with milk supply, you should see a certified lactation consultant for help.
They can determine if you need a supplement of some type. Or there’s a mechanics problem (latch and positioning).
Final Tips for Increased Milk Production
Most moms don’t need lactation supplements to start, build, and keep their supplies.
So, just follow your strict breastfeeding and pumping schedule as much as possible (between 8 and 12 times per day) and often check to ensure that your newborn baby is developing properly.
Also, keep in contact with your healthcare provider and your baby’s pediatrician, so your questions can be addressed as quickly as possible.
Keep in mind that a drop in breast milk supply is a common challenge among nursing moms. And if you think you need a lactation supplement, opt for a safe one. Just don’t forget to talk to your healthcare provider for approval.