Breast milk is the best natural, healthy, and primary source of food for a baby. Therefore, it is quite understandable if a new mother frets about the supply of her milk. While some mothers are naturally blessed with a sufficient supply of breast milk, others might struggle with theirs’. Is my baby feeding enough? Is the milk supply sufficient? These questions might bog down any new mom. While feeding on-demand and pumping might help, at times galactagogues too come in handy.
What Are Galactagogues?
A galactagogue is any herb, food, or medicine that can help a breastfeeding mom improve her breast milk supply. Galactagogues are usually taken after due consultation with a doctor or lactation expert. The best way to establish and maintain a good supply of breast milk is to ensure frequent and proper removal of breast milk. This is usually referred to as ‘supply and demand feeding’ where the more milk is removed from the breasts, the better the supply. And a galactagogue will work effectively only in this kind of environment (1).
The Best Natural Supplements For Breastfeeding
Not many studies have been done on the effectiveness of galactagogues. However, there has been strong anecdotal evidence about their benefits since women have been taking them for ages to improve their milk supply. Based on this, here are some of the best natural supplements to improve the supply of your breast milk:
One of the most commonly used herbal supplements to improve milk supply is fenugreek. The extracts of its seeds are believed to quickly increase the milk supply. Usually, a daily dose of 3.5 to 6 grams is recommended by a lactation consultant or a doctor. Although it is not known to cause any side effects, avoid taking it if you are allergic to soybeans, peanuts, or if you are pregnant. Some women who have taken fenugreek noticed a maple syrup-like smell in their breast milk thereafter (2).
2. Blessed Thistle:
Blessed Thistle has been used in medicines for many years and has been known to help in increasing the milk supply of breastfeeding mothers. It works even better when taken in combination with fenugreek. It is often available in the form of tea or even as capsules. You can take them 3 times a day or as per your doctor’s recommendation (3).
Alfalfa is a type of pea that can mildly increase the supply of milk, which is why it is often taken in combination with the fenugreek extracts. Alfalfa can be consumed in a number of ways including in the form of tea made out of its leaves, sprouts or as tablets (4).
4. Goat’s Rue:
Goat’s Rue is such a powerful herb that it is not recommended to take it in its fresh form as it can be toxic. It should always be consumed in the form of commercially prepared capsules or tea. The best way to get its benefits is to use it along with fenugreek and other herbs (5).
Lecithin is one food supplement that improves milk supply by preventing the blocking of the milk ducts. It achieves this by decreasing the stickiness of the milk and increasing the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids in breast milk (6).
Worst Natural Supplements For Breastfeeding
The food that a breastfeeding mother consumes enters her bloodstream and thus makes way into breast milk too. This can affect the baby as well. While some natural foods can enhance the supply of your breast milk, others can have an adverse effect on it. Here are some of them (7):
1. Mercury-Rich Seafood
Some seafood, including fish, contains high amounts of mercury which might prove to be harmful to your baby. So, either completely avoid it if you are breastfeeding or limit the intake of such seafood.
When you drink coffee if you are breastfeeding, the amount of caffeine that enters your bloodstream might seem negligible. But it might be enough to affect your baby’s sleep. So, avoid coffee as much as you can.
Any amount of alcohol that you consume will enter the bloodstream and thus reach your baby too. If possible, avoid it completely. Or else, limit it as much as you can.
We hope that this list of best and worst food helps you in increasing the supply of your breast milk and also to make wise lifestyle choices for the safety of your baby. Of course, when in doubt, make sure you consult your doctor or a lactation expert.