Many breastfeeding moms worry about making enough breast milk for their babies. Sometimes improving baby’s latch, fully emptying the breast, and breast compression and massage is enough to help promote an increased supply. When mom needs more help, she can use galactagogues (ga-lac-ti-gogs) – teas, supplements and foods that can support her breast milk production.
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.
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There are many herbs and foods that have been used traditionally for their lactogenic (milk-making) properties. The most popular include:
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.
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Compiled from the following References:
ABMProtocol.(2011). Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Clinical Protocol #9: Use of galactagogues in Initiating or Augmenting the Rate of Maternal Milk Secretion.
Mylove, M. (2013). Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Herbal Galactagogues. Journal of Human Lactation. May 2013 vol. 29 no. 2 154-162
Use of Herbals as Galactagogues. Journal of Pharmacy Practice April 2012 vol. 25 no. 2 222-231 Murray, D. (2014).