By Wendy Colson, RN, IBCLC, RLC
Considering adding a breastmilk supplement or galactagogues to your breastfeeding routine? Between herbs, breastmilk supplements, teas, bars and lactation pills and cookies there are plenty of products on the market touted to support lactation. You may be wondering how effective these breastfeeding milk production supplements actually are in increasing your breastmilk supply.
Any lactation consultant will remind you that milk supply is a supply and demand system. Always work to explore if your suspected low milk supply is real vs perceived first. Your lactation consultant and pediatrician can help provide guidance and reassurance as to whether you might need additional tools to support adequate milk supply and identify the root cause.
Since lactation supplements are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, results about increasing milk supply are anecdotal and vary among lactating mothers. The use of breastfeeding supplements becomes somewhat of a game of trial and error; what works for one breastfeeding mom may not work for another. We like to refer to our line of lactation supplements as lactation boosters. Since the use of ingredients in our products are part of a clean, healthy diet overall they can be an additional boost to your breastfeeding routine as you work to build up your supply overall. Supplements are not regulated so be sure to work closely with your healthcare team to customize dosage and frequency recommendations. Typically you can see lactation supplements work within 3-5 days, if after taking them consistently for this time doesn’t show an increased milk supply it can be helpful to experiment with other galactagogues.
All in all, when working closely with a healthcare provider, lactation supplements, foods and herbs that are rich in galactagogues can be a great boost in your breastfeeding toolbox to help increase breastmilk production.
Where Do I Find Galactagogues & How Do I Use Them?
With all 3 types of galactagogues the goal is to increase the production of the hormone prolactin to trigger milk production in conjunction with the adjustments to strategies above. Galactagogues can be synthetic, plant-based or endogenous.
Here’s a breakdown below:
Synthetic galactagogues are prescription drugs provided by your doctor. The most popular are domperidone (Motilium), metoclopramide (Reglan), and chlorpromazine (Thorazine). These medications may carry side effects for both mother and baby and need to be evaluated carefully for use in breastfeeding difficulties.
Endogenous galactagogues are self-generated and come from within your own body. By increasing nursing or pumping frequency, endogenous galactagogues kick in and start ramping up breast milk supply. Working on targeting the primary cause of low milk supply will activate these endogenous galactagogues available to you by releasing prolactin.
Plant-based galactagogues come in the form of galactagogue herbs, galactagogue foods and teas and can be taken as part of a well balanced diet with little side effects making them the most popular category of galactagogues.
There are lots of popular plant-based galactagogue herbs available so ensuring you are purchasing from a reputable source is essential. Every brand has different dosing quantities and different indications so it’s important to follow the instructions carefully for each supplement in guidance with your healthcare team. You can purchase these lactation supplements individually at a natural foods store or look for products which contain a combination of these herbs designed to increase breastmilk production.
Common plant based galactagogue herbs that help with breastmilk production are:
- Fenugreek: this herb is similar to clover and its leaves are commonly used in cooking. The seeds smell and taste similar to maple syrup. Fenugreek is a very widely used herbal galactagogue used for increasing breast milk supply however should be evaluated carefully for use as it is contraindicated if you have a history of asthma, chickpea/peanut allergy, diabetes, use blood thinners or are pregnant.
- Moringa: moringa leaves are a natural galactagogue with a slightly bitter, grass-like flavor and is frequently used as a galactagogue in Asia.
- Cinnamon: just a dash of cinnamon to sweeten your milk and give it a little extra production nudge.
- Turmeric: considered a powerhouse to stimulate milk production and blood circulation.
- Shatavari: originates from India and is known to support hormones and increase prolactin.
A host of foods are also known as being galactagogue foods and supportive of increasing breastmilk production. Some examples include: whole grains such as barley, oatmeal and brown rice, fennel seed and dark leafy greens. These foods are nutrient packed and can give you a double edged sword of boosting nutrition and milk supply!
What Supplements Help with Breastmilk Production?
Lactation treats, such as cookies, bars and shakes are another effective, healthy, and yummy way to add in lactation supplements. There are lots of options to purchase these snacks online or you can make your own version. BOOBIE* Superfoods offers delicious alternatives to messy teas and capsules that can be hard to swallow or stomach. Our Milk to the Max BOOBIE* Bars are specially formulated lactation bars that contain a proprietary blend of Organic Moringa, Organic Shatavari Root, Turmeric, and Spice in addition to Oats, Flax, Chia Seeds, and Brewers Yeast (all galactagogues!) that help increase breast milk production and amp up breastmilk production.
How Long Does it Take for Lactation Supplements to Work?
How often should you use it to see an increase in breast milk production? You’ll see results within 3-5 days of consistent use alongside frequent feedings.
Protein powders can be another option to boost lactation. BOOBIE* Body is an all-natural, organic, and non-gmo protein powder filled with milk-boosting ingredients and healthy fats and fibers superfood to add to your daily routine. You can incorporate protein powders in smoothies such as our immune boosting lactation smoothie, drink it as a shake, add it to baked goods such as cookies or our lactation brownie recipe for some inspiration! Learn more about choosing a protein powder here.
Lactation gummies provide another boost to your milk supply as they are packed with galactagogues and superfoods. BOOBIE* Bears pack in an additional punch by providing zinc, elderberry since we know that moms can’t take sick days. We’ve also added 5000 mcg of biotin as literature supports that low biotin levels can often accompany hair loss that occurs postpartum.
As a breastfeeding mom, adding in breastmilk supplements can be a great way to support your milk supply. Continuing to work with your healthcare team, doing plenty of breastfeeding and adding in some supportive lactation supplements and foods and herbs rich in galactagogues can all work to help you meet your breastfeeding goals. Being able to know ahead of time what to expect and how to handle these dips can help you feel like the empowered supermom you are!