Fenugreek, More Milk Plus, & Galactogogues to Increase Breast Milk Production

Every breastfeeding mother feels at one time or another during her breastfeeding journey, that she is experiencing low milk supply. Most of the time it truly isn’t low milk supply, but rather the perception of feeling as if your milk supply as dropped. See the post Low milk supply common concerns and questions for further information.  Galactogogues are herbs and other substances that support breast milk production and increase milk supply.  Most of these herbs are available to you over-the-counter, but it is strongly recommended that you seek the advice and care from a licensed Lactation Consultant to help you choose the galactogogue that is best for you and your specific situation.

Some of the most commonly used herbs are:

Fenugreek (Trigonella faenumgraecum) A member of the legume family works by affecting the smooth muscle contractions in the breasts which helps stimulate the milk ejection reflex. This herb is commonly used to increase milk supply and can increase a mother’s milk supply in as quickly as 24 to 72 hours after taking the first dose.  Mammary glands are similar to our sweat glands in our body. Fenugreek stimulates sweat production, thus also working to stimulate the mammary gland.

Once common side effect however, is that it can make your sweat and urine smell like maple syrup! It could be worse! Better to smell like I-HOP then something else! It has been reported by some mothers to cause loose stools.  It is NOT recommended to take fenugreek if you are allergic to peanuts or chickpeas or if you are a diabetic.

Suggested dosage per kellymom.com

(580-610 mg)
  • 2-4 capsules, 3 times per day
  • 6-12 capsules (total) per day
  • ~1200-2400 mg, 3 times per day (3.5-7.3 grams/day)
  • German Commission E recommends a daily intake of 6 grams
(500 mg)
  • 7-14 capsules (total) per day
powder or seeds
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon, 3 times per day
  • 1 capsule = 1/4 teaspoon
  • can be mixed with a little water or juice
1-2 mL, 3 times per day (or see package directions)
one cup of tea, 2-3 times per day

Blessed Thistle (cnicus benedictus) – This herb, native to Europe and Asia, has a calming effect on women that helps reduce anxiety, increasing a new mother’s comfort level during what can sometimes be a frustrating  and exhausting situation. This works by stimulating blood flow to the mammary glands thus helping to produce more milk.

Nettle (Urtica dioica) – This herb helps breastfeeding mothers by providing additional nutritional support that is sometimes lacking in the woman’s diet. It has been documented to be a rich source of iron, calcium and folic acid. This is however a diuretic and should be used carefully as it can result in frequent loose stools.

Goats Rue – Aids in developing additional mammary tissue for women who have PCOS, are adopting and inducing lactation, or women who have had breast reduction surgery.

Fennel (Doeniculum vulgare) – This herb has been known to stimulate feeding cues in the baby and can aid in the infants digestion relieving colic and excess gas.

Choosing the right combination of herbs to use, can be tricky. It truly is a case by case judgment, which is why you should consult with a breastfeeding specialist.  Most Lactation Consultants will evaluate the situation and then decide what level of treatment to begin with. Often times it may be a combination of herbs.

More Milk Plus Family, by MotherLove herbal company, is a wonderful combination galactogogue that is favored by many in the breastfeeding profession.  It comes in 6 different options consisting of different levels of strength and variables.

  1. More Milk Plus Liguid Herbal Extract: (fenugreek, blessed thistle, nettle leaf, fennel seed, deionized water, grain alcohol) This is the original and most productive product. It is one of the stronger galactogogues and should be used under supervision. Not the most tasty option, but very productive.
  2. More Milk Plus Alcohol Free: Same ingredients as the above with the exception of vegetable glycerin in place of the grain alcohol.
  3. More Milk Plus Liguid Herbal Capsules: The original formula but in a better tasting capsule version, and alcohol free.
  4. More Milk: (blessed thistle, nettle leaf, fennel seed) This extract does not contain fenugreek for mothers who are sensitive to the potential side effect of loose stools, or have a possible peanut allergy
  5. More Milk Two: (Raspberry leaf, nettle leaf, alfalfa leaf) These contains herbs that are safe to take while pregnant. This is best to use when tandem nursing, or while nursing one child while being pregnant with another.
  6. More Milk Special Blend: (goat’s rue, fenugreek, blessed thistle, nettle leaf, fennel seed) This is used to stimulate and increase milk production while also helping the body produce additional mammary tissue. This is available as a liquid or in a vegetarian capsule

DOSAGE:  See package for dosage details. Most commonly prescribed is 3 capsules 3x a day with food. Again, this should be used under the care of a Lactation Consultant who can monitor your response to these herbs.

**Special Note** Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle should not be use while pregnant

Another basic, and beginning option is Mother’s Milk Tea ny Nature Maid.  This can be found in most health food stores. The ingredients include fenugreek, blessed thistle.or nettle, and fennel. The fennel tends to give the tea a black licorice taste. Recommended dose is 3-4 glasses a day and it can be served hot or iced.

For further information, or to find the herb that is best for you and your baby, contact a Lactation Consultant for recommended dosage and procedures. Best of luck!

Copyright© 2011 Danielle Gauss/ JustBreastFeeding.com. All Rights Reserved

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