There are many reasons for low milk supply and, at times, herbal supplements can help. A consultation with an IBCLC is an important step in determining the cause of low milk supply and whether herbal supplements are indicated. There are a variety of herbs that can be used, but listed below are a few all-purpose herbs and combination supplements that I suggest routinely.
Fenugreek is one of the oldest documented herbal supplements, and according to animal research studies that have been conducted, fenugreek appears to raise prolactin plasma levels and may stimulate growth hormone. Fenugreek is commonly sold in 610mg capsules and the usual dosage is 3 capsules, 3 times per day.
Blessed Thistle is another herb that has been used for centuries and is considered a hormone balancer. It is often used along with fenugreek and the usual dosage is 1 capsule, 3 times per day.
For women with a history of PCOS, Goat’s Rue is said to increase breast tissue and has anti-diabetic properties. Metformin, a pharmaceutical drug used to treat PCOS, is actually derived from one of the components of Goats Rue. As a single herb, Goats Rue can be purchased as a liquid capsule or liquid extract by Motherlove. The product label provides instructions for use.
Motherlove More Milk Plus is a combination product that contains fenugreek and blessed thistle along with nettle leaf and fennel seed, both of which are beneficial for milk ejection and hormonal balance, but are not usually used independently.
Motherlove More Milk Special Blend contains all the ingredients in More Milk Plus, but also contains Goats rue.
Mothers have been milk-sharing throughout time. Additionally, the World Health Organization states that if a mother’s own milk is unavailable, then the milk from another woman is the next best thing.
Pasteurized donor milk from a milk bank is the safest option but is not always obtainable. Informal milk-sharing sites such as human milk 4 human babies and Eats on Feets offer mothers who have extra milk an opportunity to share with families in their community are unable to otherwise provide enough human milk for their babies. These online communities also offer information on safe handling and sharing of human milk so that families are able to make an informed decision.
Some newborn babies are at risk for hypoglycemia in the first days of life. Antenatal colostrum collection is sometimes suggested to decrease the risk of formula supplementation in those babies.
It is ok to begin collecting colostrum after 36 weeks gestation, with the approval of your OBGYN and with education on collection and storage of colostrum by your IBCLC. Your IBCLC can also teach you how to correctly hand express.
It is usually advised to limit the time spent collecting colostrum to about 5-10 minutes, twice per day. It is also recommended that you stop hand expressing if it causes uterine contractions.
Other suggestions for decreasing the risk of hypoglycemia in the 1st days of life include; skin to skin care, delaying bathing the baby, and breastfeeding on demand. Click here for more information and instructions.