Breastfeeding is a special time! You not only get to nourish and love your little one, but also form that special mom-baby bond. Just like every pregnancy is unique, your breastfeeding experience is also different from other moms.
For some moms, breastfeeding is rather natural, while some have to struggle with it. Then there are some who may not have enough milk but have to try and increase supply. If you fall into this category, you may be interested to know that fennel, yes fennel, can increase breast milk supply. But, what if it has side effects? Well, read our post and put your doubts about consuming fennel during breastfeeding to rest.
What Is Fennel?
Fennel, scientifically termed Foeniculum vulgare, is a rather common spice. It is mostly used in cooking and has many healing properties. This sweet flavored spice, which tastes a little like licorice, originates from Europe. One of the earliest uses of fennel was to treat digestive disorders and help women overcome problems during monthly periods. In ancient Greece, fennel was referred to as ‘marathon’ and later given a Latinized name of ‘feniculum’ because once dried, it looked like hay. The Latin name ‘feniculum’ was later changed to ‘fenol’ in the Old English language and from then to ‘fenel’ in Middle English language. It was later changed to the modernized version ‘fennel’.
In Roman tradition, fennel was a herbal remedy used to help improve vision and eyesight.
Some of the most common parts of fennel that are used are the fruits and the leaves. The fruits are often referred to as the seeds, because they look so.
Does Fennel Increase Supply Of Milk In Breastfeeding Women?
For centuries, fennel has been used as a natural method to increase the supply of milk in lactating women. It was regarded as a galactagogue, which was thought to kick start and increase the production of milk after birth. The term galactagogue is a Greek word that derived from the words ‘galact’, meaning milk and ‘ogogue’ meaning ‘leading to’ or ‘promoting’.
Fennel has certain properties that are strikingly similar to estrogen, the hormone which is responsible for boosting your body’s breast milk. It contains something known as anethole, which is somewhat similar to phytoestrogen, which has similar properties as that of the hormone estrogen. Using fennel along with its component of anethole in a moderate dose will help you to naturally increase your body’s supply of breast milk. Fennel is looked upon as a herbal remedy to increase breast milk.
How Can You Use Fennel To Increase Your Supply Of Breast Milk?
Before you take fennel in any form to increase your breast milk supply, make sure you speak to your doctor and get a confirmation. You can use fennel in the following ways to help increase the supply of breast milk:
1. The Traditional Way Of Using Fennel:
In its most traditional form of usage, soak the fennel seeds in hot water to create a herbal fusion. Strain this water and add a dash of honey or any other natural sweetener to give it a sweet and delicious taste.
2. Dried Or In The Form Of Capsules:
You can dry the fennel seeds at home and eat them raw, or grind them into a powder, mix it in a glass of warm water and drink. You can also have it in a capsule form that you can buy from your local medicine store.
3. Use It As A Vegetable:
You can use the vegetable part of the fennel plant and eat it in both a raw form as well as in cooked form. You can also add fennel to various other dishes such as soups, vegetables or other dishes.
4. Use It As Tea:
You can also use fennel to make some fresh fennel tea at home. Boil a cup of water and add about one to three tablespoons of freshly crushed fennel seeds. Let it boil and steep for about ten minutes. Strain the liquid and have it as tea.
5. Use It As A Herb Or As A Spice:
You can also use fennel as a flavoring herb or spice in various dishes, such as sauce, dips and salads.
Are There Any Other Benefits Of Using Fennel?
In addition to increasing your breast milk, fennel seeds have various other health benefits. Here are some of the added benefits of fennel during your lactation period:
1. Can Help With Indigestion And The Problem Of Gas:
Fennel can help to take care of your digestive issues and will help prevent and treat any symptoms of indigestion. It is especially helpful to reduce any gaseousness or bloated feeling that you may have.
2. Take It With Fenugreek For Best Results:
Speak to your doctor if you can also take fenugreek along with fennel. When you make a combination of both the herbs, it will help boost your milk production even more.
3. Can Increase Your Libido:
It is true that many women lack interest in sex once they are pregnant or are lactating. You may be tired all the time and hardly get to rest or sleep. Add to that the many changes that your body is going through, and it can get quite difficult to feel the urge for sex. Using fennel during such times can be a major help as it will help to boost your sexual appetite.
What Are The Side Effects Of Using Fennel?
While herbs are mainly good for use on a regular basis, in some cases, they can turn dangerous and cause some serious side effects. Before you start using fennel while you are still breastfeeding, make sure you speak to your doctor or your lactation consultant and use it only once they tell you to do so. Also, if you are buying it as a supplement from the store, make sure that you buy it from a reputed store and brand.
Here are some of the side effects from using fennel:
1. May Induce Drowsiness And Sleepiness In Your Baby After A Feed:
If you use fennel during your lactation period, it could induce some amount of drowsiness in your baby. You may notice that your baby falls asleep more easily or stays asleep for longer hours than usual. If you feel your baby is falling too sleepy or is sleeping for longer than the normal hours, speak to your doctor about it and stop using fennel for some time.
2. Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels:
If you are a diabetic or have had diabetes in the past, even during your pregnancy, make sure you first speak to your doctor about it. Using fennel if you have diabetes or if you are hypoglycemic can lower the levels of your blood sugar. In severe cases, it may even cause you to faint.
3. Can Increase Your Risk Of A Seizure Attack:
If you have ever suffered from epilepsy attacks in the past or if you have any seizure disorders, stay away from using fennel. Do not take fennel in such cases, as it will put you at a higher risk of suffering from a seizure attack. Speak to your doctor about it and understand what will work best for you.
4. May Decrease Milk Supply If Used In Excess:
Your main aim of using fennel is to increase your breast milk supply, but if you start using it in excess, it can do just the opposite. If you take too much fennel, it will lower the supply of your breast milk instead of increasing it.
5. Can Cause Allergic Reactions On Skin:
If you use fennel as cream or in the form of any topical application, it may lead to skin allergies in some cases. Avoid doing the same if you have any skin conditions or if you have sensitive skin. In case you do use it as a topical treatment and feel any discomfort or notice any allergic reaction, immediately stop using it and get checked by a good dermatologist. Make sure you tell them that you are breastfeeding.
The best person to guide you about using fennel while you are breastfeeding is your doctor. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of fennel and follow your doctor’s advice on the usage and dosage.
Moms, if you used fennel while you were breastfeeding, do share your tips and suggestions with others readers here.
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