Breastfeeding is a topic that I am very passionate about and I plan to blog about it about once a week. I have breastfed all four of my own children and had different experiences with each one due to differences in their feeding styles and my work schedule. I was and continue to be committed to doing everything possible to avoid using formula. There are lots of topics for later posts on breastfeeding.
But, today I am going to talk about galactagogues and link up with the breastfeeding blog hop.
First, what is a galactagogue? It is a long word meaning “a substance that increases milk supply”. Both kellymom and breastfeeding-problems.com have extensive webpages dedicated to the subject. The two medications that are prescribed as galactagogues in the United States, Canada, and Europe are Reglan (metoclopramide) and Nauzelin (domperidone). However, domperidone is not available in the United States. Reglan has the possibility of increasing anxiety and depression which can make some hesitant to prescribe it (source).
Approximately 15% of breastfeeding women use herbs when they feel they need to increase their milk production. . However, with the exception of Fenugreek, most of these herbal galactagogues have not been studied much to see if they do increase milk supply. And while beer or alcohol is a traditional folk remedy for low milk supply, current studies indicate alcohol consumption is more likely to decrease infant consumption of milk than increase it (source).
So what about me? I have had a different milk supply with each baby. I had the least milk with my younger daughter. Ironically, I stayed home with her until she was 4 months old and then only worked part time. But she had seizures in the newborn period, which decreased the how often she nursed and how well she emptied my breast when she did nurse. I was able to make enough milk for her to gain appropriate weight when I was home full time.
When I went back to work, I worked for a very busy pediatrician’s office. They were very supportive of breastfeeding and my pumping, but I only had time to pump once a day at lunch. I worked Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 8-10 hours a day depending on how many sick kids there were each day. My daughter was taking 12-16oz of bottles breast milk a day while I was gone. I noticed that on Monday I could pump 16oz at lunch in about 15 minutes. But, by Friday I often had trouble getting more than 8oz. On the recommendation of my pediatrician, I used Mother’s Milk Tea which had both Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle in it. I usually only had one or two cups of the tea a day, and I definitely noticed an increase in my milk production. By using the tea I was able to continue working without giving my daughter any formula supplements. So I would say it worked for me!