As a nursing mom, are you worried about the amount of breast milk you’re expressing? Do you remain skeptical about the use of herbs to boost breast milk production? If you happened to be thinking along the same lines, reading our post below could be useful.
In many cultures, the use of herbs during and after pregnancy is quite prevalent. Many herbs help nursing mothers improve the quantity of their breast milk and help with other postpartum issues. Here however, we look at the safety of using herbs for breastfeeding.
What Are Herbs?
Herbs are plants or parts of a plant used for its healing properties, flavor or fragrance. Many therapeutic herbs are available as medicines or remedies like teas, tablets, powders, capsules and extracts. Herbs help treat various health conditions for general wellness .
Galactagogues are herbs that boost breastfeeding. A galactagogue is a medicine or herb that helps increase a nursing mother’s breast milk production .
Is It Safe To Use Herbs While Breastfeeding?
It is a popular belief that a herbal remedy is always safe. But herbs, like all medicines, have side effects. It is not safe to use all herbs during breastfeeding. There are also other concerns with the use of herbs during breastfeeding.
Herbs can interact with other drugs. Such drug interactions can reduce the efficacy of the medicines or the herbs .
Like food and medicines, herbs can also reach your baby through your breast milk. This can cause mild to severe side effects in your breastfeeding infant .
Herbs do not go through stringent safety tests like conventional medicines. So, you should use herbs with caution. If you want to use herbs for breastfeeding, do so only after the approval of your doctor .
[ Read: Alfalfa During Breastfeeding ]
Useful Herbs For Breastfeeding:
Here are some herbs for nursing mothers that can increase breast milk production. The article lists doses for each herb below to give you an general idea. But a dose of herbs, like all medicines, may differ for each person. So, ask your doctor for the correct dose for your purpose before you use any herb to help lactation.
Fenugreek is a popular herb for increasing the supply of breast milk. The plant’s leaves are edible and widely eaten in many parts of the world. But it is fenugreek seeds that are used for various therapeutic remedies. Breasts are sweat glands (modified). Fenugreek stimulates sweat production. So, the herb can also help stimulate the breast glands and increase milk flow. As per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the fenugreek herb, is GRAS (generally regarded as safe).
You can take fenugreek capsules (the recommended dose) a few times every day. You can also steep fenugreek seeds (¼ tsp) in 8 ounces of water (or 236 ml) for 10-15 minutes and drink it 2-3 times a day.
The use of fenugreek can increase perspiration. In rare cases, it can also cause diarrhea, gas and allergies. It is not safe to use during pregnancy. So, consider its use only as a postpartum solution to your nursing issues.
[ Read: Fenugreek while Breastfeeding ]
2. Milk Thistle:
Milk thistle is considered as a safe herbs during breastfeeding. It is a popular herbal remedy for various medical conditions such as liver problems, seasonal allergies, kidney disorders, heartburn, and menopause. The seeds and upper parts of the plant are used as medicinal herbs. Milk thistle is not the same as blessed thistle. The latter is a different herb.
Crush some seeds and steep them for 10-15 minutes in a medium-sized cup of water. Drinking 2-3 cups every day may suffice for your need.
It can interact with certain drugs such as fexofenadine (for allergies), birth control pills, anti-anxiety drugs and others. Interactions can also occur with other herbs like fenugreek and garlic. Milk thistle can also cause nausea, gas, diarrhea, indigestion and loss of appetite.
3. Goat’s Rue:
The stem of goat’s rue plant is used for medicinal purposes. It is a different herb than rue. There are no human studies on the effectiveness of goat’s rue for breast milk supply. But it has been traditionally used in Europe for the purpose and is known to be useful for increasing flow of breast milk.
You can make tea with 1tsp dried herb in a medium cup of water and drink it a few times daily.
Goat’s rue can trigger many side effects in your baby. It can also reduce the levels of your blood sugar and reduce the blood’s clotting abilities.
[ Read: Herbal Tea While Breastfeeding ]
Fennel is widely used in cooking all over the world. The dried seeds are used for herbal remedies.
You can drink tea made from fennel seeds 2-3 times every day.
Fennel can cause allergic reactions and interact with your birth control pills. It can also affect infants through the breast milk. Stop its intake if you notice any side effects in you or your baby.
[ Read: Foods To Avoid While Breastfeeding ]
This herb is also known as anise. But it differs from Chinese star anise and Japanese star anise. It is a fragrant herb and widely used in cooking as a flavoring agent. The oil and seed of the herb are used as medicinal remedies.
Pour hot water over crushed anise seeds. Drink the tea after 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times a day.
Aniseed can cause allergic reactions and also act as estrogen. So limit its use.
Some other herbal galactagogues are a raspberry leaf, red clover, alfalfa, and comfrey. If your breast milk supply is insufficient, ask your doctor if you can increase it with foods instead of medicines or herbs.
Herbs can interact with any medicine you are taking during breastfeeding, refrain from any herbal intake without first consulting with your doctor.
Breast milk is essential for your baby’s good health and growth. While, the use of herbal remedies may increase your breast milk supply, you may need to consult your doctor first. Did you use any herb to increase your breast milk production? Tell us about herbs and breastfeeding here.
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