Breastmilk production is designed to work in perfect concert with your baby’s needs. If you are feeding your baby ‘on cue,’ or whenever he shows signs of hunger rather than based on a predetermined schedule, your body will make just the right amount of milk to satisfy him.
One of the most common reasons for supplementation and weaning, however, is thinking that you don’t have enough milk. Whether you simply perceive your supply to be low or your body is truly not making enough milk, what can be done?
Galactagogues – substances that are thought to increase milk supply – are often recommended for moms with supply issues. There are different categories of galactagogues – and many choices in each category depending on your individual needs.
You’ve probably seen recipes for lactation cookies or smoothies that take advantage of the lactogenic properties of particular foods. Lactogenic foods are typically easy to add to your diet, and don’t have many side effects. So they are a good first try to help increase your supply. Consider adding oats, quinoa, hops, brewer’s yeast, almonds, garlic, and sesame seeds to your regular meals. Remember, though, there’s no ‘dose’ for these foods – what works for one mom may not work for another.
Fenugreek is the most common herb used for increasing milk supply, and it’s sometimes paired with blessed thistle. But other herbs may be better for your particular situation. Other common herbal galactagogues include marshmallow root, goat’s rue, alfalfa, fennel, raspberry leaf, moringa / malunggay, and shatavari. Do you research and be sure you are taking the right amount to make a difference. Herbs, like medications, do have side effects and precautions, so work with an herbalist or naturopath to be sure you’re using the herbs safely.
Metoclopramide (Reglan) and domperidone (Motilium) are the two medications most often prescribed for milk supply problems. You’ll need to work closely with your doctor, your baby’s doctor, and a lactation consultant if you are using one of these options. But for some moms, medications make a huge difference in milk production.
How to decide what’s right for you
No galactagogue will work if milk isn’t being removed from the breast often. Milk removal is the key to milk production. When milk isn’t removed often enough, your body sends out chemical signals to slow production. But when the breast is emptied and refilled regularly, production increases. Nursing your baby more often, or adding pumping to your daily routine, may be necessary along with the galactagogues. A visit with a lactation consultant may be warranted – he or she can help you decide if your supply is really low, if your baby is able to transfer milk, and how to go about improving your breastfeeding experience.
Have you purposely added any lactogenic foods to your breastfeeding diet?
Written by Michelle, Lamaze instructor, lactation consultant, and mother to 4 busy kids
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.