Breastfeeding Herbs Used To Increase The Supply of Breast Milk

9 Herbs To Boost A Low Milk Supply

Herbs And The Supply of Breast Milk 

Herbs and other galactagogues are not often needed to increase the supply of breast milk.  You can usually increase your milk supply naturally by making sure that your baby is latched on correctly, and by nursing your child more frequently.  

See Also: The Common Causes of A Low Breast Milk Supply

However, if you notice a decline in your breast milk supply when you have your period,  you begin to take hormonal birth control, or you have additional stress in your life, a galactagogue may help. Talk to your doctor or a lactation professional to see if adding an herbal treatment is right for you. Different herbs have different actions, so getting professional advice is so important.  Your doctor or a lactation consultant can help you determine which herbs may work the best for your situation.  They can also advise you on how much of each herb you should take.  

9 Breastfeeding Herbs Used To Increase Breast Milk Supply

1
Fenugreek

Breastfeeding Herbs, Fenugreek
Dried Fenugreek Leaves. malcolm park/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Fenugreek is the most common breastfeeding herb used to help increase the supply of breast milk, and it's typically the primary ingredient in nursing teas. Fenugreek is a seed from the Mediterranean area that has a bitter taste and a maple syrup smell. It is not considered harmful when used in moderation. However, it can cause your sweat, your breast milk, and your baby's urine to smell like maple syrup. 

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2
Blessed Thistle

Blessed Thistle is often used along with fenugreek to boost a low supply of breast milk.
Blessed Thistle. janamandiuser/Wikimedia

Blessed Thistle is often used in combination with Fenugreek to increase a low breast milk supply. It is an ingredient that can be found in commercially available supplements for nursing mothers and in nursing teas. Blessed Thistle is believed to be safe as long as you take it at the recommended doses. 

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3
Fennel

Fennel is an old herb that is is used to by nursing mothers to increase milk supply.
Fennel Plant and Seeds. Brian Hagiwara/Getty Images

Fennel is an herb that has an anise or licorice flavor, and it is a common ingredient in Mediterranean foods. The medicinal use of fennel dates back to Ancient Egypt. Fennel has been used to treat a variety of health conditions including digestive problems and menstrual issues. It is also believed to help increase milk production in breastfeeding mothers.  

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4
Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle is used to increase breast milk supply, but it also treats anemia and fatigue.
Stinging Nettle. Yagi Studio/Getty Images

Stinging Nettle is a nutritious, dark, leafy green plant. It is high in iron and packed with vitamins and minerals. When taken after childbirth, stinging nettle is believed to treat anemia, fight fatigue, and increase the supply of breast milk. 

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5
Alfalfa

Alfalfa is one of the oldest crops and it's believed to support milk production.
Alfalfa Sprouts. Tom Grill/Getty Images

Alfalfa is one of the oldest and most cultivated crops in history. It is highly nutritious and full of vitamins and minerals. Alfalfa is rich in antioxidants, low in saturated fat, and high in protein and fiber. This plant is a main source of food for dairy animals because it is believed to increase milk production. You can safely add Alfalfa to your breastfeeding diet, as long as you don't overdo it.

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6
Goat's Rue

Goat's Rue is a member of the same plant family as Fenugreek. In its dried form, Goat's Rue is believed to be a safe supplement. The properties of this breastfeeding herb may help a mother to build up breast tissue and make more breast milk. However, the fresh Goat's Rue plant is dangerous and should never be used. 

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7
Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is a galactagogue of legend.
Milk Thistle. Nancy Nehring/Getty Images

Milk Thistle, or St. Mary's Thistle, has been associated with breastfeeding for centuries. The white veins of the Milk Thistle plant represent breast milk, and it is believed that if you consume Milk Thistle your milk production will increase.

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8
Brewer's Yeast

Brewer's yeast can increase your milk supply and improve mood and energy level.
Brewer's Yeast. Rita Maas/Getty Images

Brewer's yeast is a healthy, nutritional supplement that can help to increase energy levels and fight off the baby blues. It's also believed to help increase the supply of breast milk.

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9
Garlic

Garlic can help to increase your milk supply but it may also change the flavor of your breast milk.
Garlic. Multi-bits/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Garlic is a favorite ingredient used in recipes around the world. Throughout history, garlic has been used as a flavoring for food, a dietary supplement, and medication. Garlic has many health benefits, and it is considered a safe and healthy addition to your breastfeeding diet. Garlic is believed to help increase milk supply, but it can also change the flavor of your breast milk. Some babies seem to like the taste of garlic, but others may not tolerate garlic well. 

Warnings:

  • Always talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant before taking any herbal treatments. For many centuries, herbal remedies have been used as medications. And, just like medications, herbs and plants can have side effects. Depending on the way that they are prepared, some herbs can even be toxic.
     
  • After discussing the use of breastfeeding herbs with your health care provider, purchase them from a reputable company. Herbs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so use caution. Most tea preparations are not harmful, and the commercial brands that you see in the supermarket are generally safe.
     
  • It's important to let your baby’s doctor know if you're taking any herbal supplements while you're breastfeeding.
     
  • Be extra careful if you are pregnant. Some herbs can be dangerous and lead to preterm labor or miscarriage. 

Sources:

Bown, Deni. Herbal. Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 2001.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

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