Can breastfeeding supplements increase your milk supply? Chances are as new mom you’ve thought this once of twice as a decreasing milk supply weighs on your mind.
Theoretically, if you’re breastfeeding your baby and following their cues for hunger, your milk supply should remain steady. But as all new moms know–this isn’t always the case.
Stress, sleepless nights and just adjusting to your new life with a newborn can cause your milk supply to get out of sync sometimes.
So if you’ve ever thought about using breastfeeding supplements to increase your milk supply, here’s a complete guide on which supplements actually work.
How do I know my milk supply is low?
Before you rush out to buy breastfeeding supplements, make sure you really need them in the first place. Many moms worry that their baby isn’t getting enough, when in fact they really are.
Here’s how to tell your milk supply is low:
- Your baby isn’t gaining weight at correct intervals– your baby’s pediatrician will keep a close eye on your baby’s weight at every well visit.
- You don’t count enough wet diapers per day– besides weight, one of the best indicators of a healthy milk supply is the amount of dirty diapers your baby has. Count 5-8 fully wet diapers per day to make sure your baby is eating enough.
If you’re feeling uneasy, go visit a lactation consultant! Most insurance plans cover this and believe me, this is one of the best things you can do to make sure your milk supply is healthy!
Breastmilk supplements to increase milk supply
From teas to capsules to natural foods, there’s a whole host of food and beverages that fall under the Galactagogue category, meaning they can increase your milk production.
Unfortunately breastfeeding supplements haven’t been widely studied, and you’ll see below that some popular lactation supplements have been studied more than others, but still regardless of ample studies to prove they work, moms have been using supplements for centuries to increase their milk supply.
The most popular milk supplement is fenugreek, and this breastmilk booster has been around forever. Funny enough, fenugreek is used to artificially flavor maple syrup, so some moms do report that they smell like maple syrup when using the supplement.
Generally, most breastfeeding mothers will notice a supply increase within a day to three days after taking the supplement, but some women don’t experience milk-enhancing effects for up to two weeks. Once your milk supply is increased you do not need to keep taking it.
If you experience symptoms of upset stomach or loose bowels it might be the fenugreek to blame as unfortunately, some women do experience this side effect.
Mother’s milk tea
If you can’t stand the thought of taking another capsule– and really, who can blame you after 9+ months of swallowing those gigantic prenatal vitamins– you might try Mother’s Milk Tea to boost your milk supply.
Mother’s Milk is decaffeinated and has a unique taste due to the main milk-enhancing ingredients of fenugreek, fennel, anise, coriander and blessed thistle–all of which are known galagogues. Like Fenugreek, Mother’s Milk Tea won’t work instantly, but does tend to kick in within 1-3 days of drinking it.
To be effective you need to drink the tea at least 2 to 3 times a day, and while you won’t see a dramatic improvement in milk supply, it is definitely noticeable.
I was able to find Mother’s Milk Tea at the grocery store, which I liked, because a lot of these supplements must be ordered online as you can’t find them at local grocery stores. I’d suggest adding honey to the tea to give it a flavor boost, too!
Milk Dust protein powder
Milk Dust protein powder is a newer supplement mix to increase milk supply but based on amazon reviews, it not only works well to increase production, it tastes great too.
Packed with a lactation blend of Milk thistle, red raspberry leaf, brewer’s yeast, organic fenugreek seeds, and fennel seeds, this unique blend has no shortage of milk-producing ingredients.
You can either mix one serving of MIlk Dust with water or mix into a smoothie for a fuller meal. The great thing about Milk Dust is it’s formulated to decrease sugar cravings thanks to its unique formula of crucial vitamins and minerals breastfeeding moms are often devoid of.
This product wasn’t around when I was breastfeeding my daughter, but when it comes time to breastfeed again, this is the first thing I’m going to reach for, because I don’t know about you, but my sugar cravings were out of control!
A recent study indicated the combination of fenugreek tea and palm dates increased milk supply and increased their baby’s birth weight! Dates work to increase prolactin, the hormone that’s responsible for producing breastmilk.
For the healthiest option, choose the dates that you find in the produce section of the grocery store. You can also buy canned or packaged if you can’t find any in your produce section. Besides boosting your milk supply, dates are super nutritious, containing fiber, antioxidants, and important minerals that support bone health– you can’t go wrong with dates.
I like to keep dates in my fridge to have when I have sugar cravings. You just need to eat about 2-3 a day. If you like the idea of eating dates to increase your milk supply, pair this method with drinking fenugreek tea 1-2 times per day.
Milk Thistle is a herbal remedy with tons of amazing health benefits– it’s been cited to help with liver function, reversing brain decline, protects against bone loss, and increases milk production.
While there isn’t a lot of research on some breastfeeding supplements, a 2008 study did show Milk Thistle to work very well in terms of increasing milk supply. Compared to a placebo group, milk production increased by 85.94% in mothers taking Milk Thistle.
I did find research that indicated Milk Thistle may interfere with birth control pills, so if you’re on birth control while breastfeeding, make sure you talk to your doctor about that.
You need nutrients if you’re breastfeeding and besides increasing your milk supply, fennel seeds are very healthy for you can provide those vital nutrients your body needs while nursing.
You can find fennel seeds in most health stores or online. To increase your milk supply using fennel seeds, mix 1-3 teaspoons of fennel seeds in boiling water. Add honey to taste and allow the seeds to soak in the hot water for at least 5 minutes before you drink it.
You can drink this tea up to three times a day. Fennel Seeds do have a licorice taste, so if that’s not something you’re into, skip this breastfeeding supplement.
Your grandmother may have used this natural remedy to treat colds back in the day, but today most breastfeeding moms know Blessed Thistle as a supplement that helps to increase milk supply.
You can purchase Blessed Thistle as a tea, powder or capsule form. If you opt for the capsules, you have to take three per day to see any results, so you don’t like the idea of taking more pills, opt for the tea or mix the powder in a smoothie.
What to try if breastfeeding supplements don’t work for you
Some women are blown away by how quickly lactation supplements work for their milk supply, but still others notice nothing in the way of supplements works to boost their supply.
If you’ve tried a handful of supplements to increase milk production with no results, you likely will have better results using these methods:
I had never heard of power pumping before I started breastfeeding, but once I did, I was so thankful for the quick results I got using this method. The idea behind power pumping is that you pump several times in a small amount of time.
Use a double electric breast pump, get comfortable and pump for 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on and stop! Make sure you reserve about an hour for this whole process. Do this in the morning when your milk supply is largest and give this method about 3-4 days before you decide it’s not working.
Use a haakaa every time you breastfeed
A haakaa breast pump is a silicone device that’s designed to catch the milk that leaks when you have a let down.
It does have a suction, so it will pull out milk, as well a catch the letdown. It’s definitely not as powerful as power pumping, but if the idea of power pumping doesn’t appeal to you, try using the haakaa.
Drink a ton of water
Sometimes my daughter would unexpectedly want to feed in a short amount of time and I’d quickly chug at least 8 ounces of water to make sure my supply was okay.
At work while I pumped, I noticed I was able to pump much more after I had a good bit of water. Research backs this up and states that breastfeeding mothers should try to get 96 ounces of water per day!
Final thoughts on using supplements to increase milk supply
Women have used supplements to increase milk supply for centuries. The vast majority of these milk-boosting supplements are very healthy for you, so if nothing else, you’re making sure your body is well nourished while you breastfeed your baby.