Breastfeeding Aids: Herbs and Milk Supply January 05, 2013 00:10
Mothers who are nursing for the first time are often concerned about the amount of milk they produce. Some mothers worry that they don’t produce enough to satisfy their baby while others wonder what to do with all their extra milk. In addition to including lactogenic (milk-producing foods) in a well-balanced diet, sometimes the use of herbs can also help to boost and maintain an abundant milk supply. A lot of mothers worry about taking supplements that might harm their infant. Simple remedies available at home or at most health food stores can help put these worries to rest.
Mothers need only look as far as the kitchen sink to help keep their milk flowing. It is easy to become dehydrated when breastfeeding a hungry newborn. A nursing mother needs to be aware of her thirst and consciously drink water throughout the day to replace the liquid the baby draws from her. Simply staying hydrated will help milk production.
Nursing mothers have used herbs for centuries and they are usually considered safe alternatives that can help nursing mothers keep up their milk production. As always, consult a health care professional before taking any new supplement. Using the wrong herbs or using herbs in the wrong way can cause undesirable side effects.
Galactagogues are herbs that are used to increase the milk supply. These herbal remedies may come in a liquid tincture, tea or pill form. Mothers may need to take these natural aids for up to two weeks to see an affect.
Relaxing with a cup of warm tea can be soothing and help ease milk letdown. Chamomile tea is said to have a calming affect while red raspberry tea can stimulate milk production. Fenugreek is perhaps the most well known galactagogue. It is taken alone or in combination with other herbs to increase milk supply. Taking Fenugreek can result in a slight maple odor in the urine. Caraway, Blessed Thistle, and Brewer’s yeast can also be used to boost milk supply. Aniseed can aid in milk production and promote healthy digestion.
If herbs don’t seem to increase milk production, try using a breast pump for 5-10 minutes after the baby is finished feeding. This additional stimulation will help mothers produce more milk. Mothers can save the pumped milk, store it in the freezer, and have plenty of milk for their baby when return to work.
Mothers who have an overabundance of milk or choose to stop breastfeeding may also seek an herbal aid. Sage is the herb of choice for mothers who wish to decrease or stop their milk supply. Taking sage is reported to help dry up a mother’s milk. Sage can be drunk in tea form or consumed in a liquid tincture available from health food stores.
Most nursing mothers will find they have sufficient milk to feed their new babies. For those who feel they need a little help, natural remedies can provide safe, attainable answers.