Galactagogues (also known as lactogenic foods or herbs) are foods, herbs and supplements that are thought to increase milk supply in breast/chestfeeding mothers. These substances can be found in many forms: pills, teas, foods and powders. While there is limited scientific evidence to support their efficacy, many mothers have reported good results from using them to their lactation experts as well as their friends.
Herbs are a popular choice for lactation support. Some of the most commonly used herbs for lactation support include Moringa, Torbangun, fenugreek, blessed thistle, shatavari, fennel, and goat’s rue. Some of these herbs are thought to increase the production of prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production, while others help increase glandular tissue inside the breasts. Most of these herbs are also know as Adaptogens which help the body adapt to and deal with stress so that the body can remain in homeostasis and work properly.
Note: Fenugreek has fallen out of favor in the past couple of years because some people have reported a decrease in milk supply when using it.
In addition to herbs, there are foods high in Beta Glucans, a fiber that can increase prolactin levels. These foods include oats, barley and brewer’s yeast. Some parents like to use these ingredients to make lactation cookies which are a nice treat to have on hand.
Here is a link for a great lactation cookie recipe: https://www.eatingbirdfood.com/lactation-cookies/#wprm-recipe-container-46145
Eating and Drinking:
Staying hydrated by drinking to thirst and eating when hungry will help your body stay on tract with caloric and fluid needs to support making breast/chestmilk. Having healthy, easy to grab snacks and ready to eat foods is a good way to eat when taking care of a newborn. Many parents like to make a cart filled with all of their lactation supplies that they can move around the house. Add a snack as well as water to this cart so that when you settle down to breast/chestfeed, everything is within arm's reach.
Before getting started:
Before starting any regimen to help increase milk supply, a breast/chest feeding parent needs to do some detective work to see if there is a true low milk supply. Many lactating parents believe that they have low supply when that isn't always the case. There are also many different reasons and outside factors that can contribute to a low milk supply that also need to be looked at and addressed. If you think that you are dealing with a low milk supply, reach out to an IBCLC first so that you can consider all of the possible factors.
If there is a true low supply, an IBCLC who is savvy in herbs can help to decide which herb is right for addressing the underlying reason. In fact, there are so many herbs to choose from and they all work in different ways. I would never recommend that someone try to navigate choosing the right herb alone. Also important is that herbs can get very expensive, so finding the best match makes sense. And finally, if there are too many things changing at once, we don't ever know for sure if a particular herb or other treatment is actually working.
So if you're feeling as if you have a low milk supply, your best first step is to reach out to an IBCLC to help get you started in the right direction.
Some of my favorite herbs and brands:
Kelsey RN, BSN, IBCLC