- Can you have fenugreek when breastfeeding?
- Does fenugreek help increase milk supply?
- How does fenugreek improve breast milk supply?
- Are there any side effects of fenugreek on a breastfeeding mother?
- Can fenugreek have side effects on the breastfeeding baby?
- How much fenugreek is safe during lactation?
- What are the ways of having fenugreek?
Fenugreek is often recommended for lactating moms. It is considered to work as a galactagogue, a substance that stimulates the production of breast milk.
But can consumption of fenugreek really improve breast milk production? Does it have any adverse effects on the baby and mother?
Can You Have Fenugreek When Breastfeeding?
Yes, you can consume fenugreek leaves and seeds when you are lactating. The fenugreek herb, which is native to Europe and Asia, has been used as a galactagogue since antiquity (1). Fenugreek seeds have a greater ability than the leaves to boost breast milk production.
The seeds are used to manufacture fenugreek powder, teas, and capsules for lactating women.
Does Fenugreek Help Increase Milk Supply?
Yes, quite probably. There isn’t enough research on fenugreek seeds’ direct impact on the production of breast milk and the evidence in favor of it is anecdotal. Nevertheless, several incoherent, random studies have attributed fenugreek for increasing milk supply among lactating mothers (2).
The studies, which had smaller samples, have all consistently found a link between fenugreek seeds and improved lactation. In a few cases, the fenugreek seeds were so effective that the infants reported a healthy improvement of body weight in a matter of weeks.
Fenugreek, powder brewed in water as a tea or in the form of capsules, seems to work equally well.
[ Read: What Foods Increase Breast Milk ]
Are There Any Side Effects Of Fenugreek On A Breastfeeding Mother
Fenugreek can have a few side effects, although they seldom tend to be severe. Some of the side effects of consuming fenugreek are (5):
- Diarrhea and flatulence
- Urine and sweat smell different, like maple syrup
- Breast milk may also have a peculiar smell, which becomes evident when you express it
- Allergic reactions to fenugreek are more common among those who already have an allergy towards others legumes such as green peas, soybeans, and peanuts (6).
- Large doses of fenugreek may cause hypoglycemia, which is a drastic drop in blood sugar
- Excess consumption may also cause breast milk overproduction.
Side effects can appear a few hours after consumption of fenugreek. The effects are most likely to occur among women who are sensitive to fenugreek or those who consume it in large doses.
Can Fenugreek Have Side Effects On The Breastfeeding Baby?
Yes. The baby may experience the same side effects as the mother. Watch out for these signs and symptoms of allergy in your baby:
- Fussiness and irritation
- Abdominal cramps, trouble breathing due to swollen neck muscles, congestion, and hoarseness of breath
First time or excess consumption of fenugreek may lead to these side effects in the baby. As the baby becomes more tolerant to food, they may disappear. However, stop consumption if your baby develops any reaction.
[ Read: Fennel For Breastfeeding ]
How Much Fenugreek Is Safe During Lactation?
There is no standard safe limit of fenugreek for breastfeeding women. However, some lactation experts recommend a maximum dosage of 4.9g per day from any source. Some experts recommend 6g for boosting breast milk supply without causing an adverse reaction to the baby (7).
What Are The Ways Of Consuming Fenugreek?
You can consume fenugreek in the form of:
- Powder made from dried and powdered fenugreek seeds. It is a common ingredient in several condiments and can be mixed with water or other food items such as lactation cookies for ease of consumption.
- Fenugreek tea, which is prepared by brewing powdered fenugreek seeds in water and drinking the infusion. The tea is often mixed with other herbs. In case of store-bought fenugreek tea, ensure the tea is specifically for the postpartum period.
- Fenugreek capsules are a popular option for women who want to use the herb as a galactagogue. Fenugreek capsules, also sometimes called fenugreek supplements, vary in their size and dosage. Sometimes only three capsules, three times a day, would suffice to attain your daily maximum limit of 6g of fenugreek (8). The number of capsules may vary, so check with your lactation consultant if you are unsure.
No matter what form of fenugreek seed consumption you choose, stay within the prescribed limits to prevent undesired effects on yourself and the baby. Fenugreek leaves are also widely used, but they have more of a culinary use than medicinal.
If you have issues with breast milk supply, you can try using fenugreek seeds at home but do not do so for more than two days without consulting a breastfeeding consultant or speaking to your midwife.
[ Read: Herbs For Breastfeeding Mothers ]
Do you have tips on using fenugreek as a galactagogue? Share them with our readers in the comments section below.
2. Lactmed: Fenugreek; US National Library of Medicine
3. S Brechon; Estrogen And Breast Cancer; The Maurer Foundation (2012)
4. Collard, Marianne; The chemical and biological investigation of plants that target the human estrogen receptor: Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek); Cornell University (2015)
5. Fenugreek; NCCIH (2016)
6. Linh T.H. Tran; Fenugreek; UC Denver (2003)
7. T F Sim et al.; The Use, Perceived Effectiveness and Safety of Herbal Galactagogues During Breastfeeding: A Qualitative Study; Int J Environ Res Public Health. (2015)
8. Effect of Fenugreek on Milk Production; US National Library of Medicine (2014)
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