Galactagogue – Do you need to increase milk production?
Any substance that can potentially increase milk supply is called a galactagogue – it’s a very unusual name, that’s for sure! Common herbal galactagogues are fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa.
There are also galactagogues, which are prescription medications, e.g., Domperidone or foods such as oats.
Before you decide to buy these products, know that the majority of women can make all the milk your babies need and even more than that, if necessary. However, it’s common for breastfeeding mothers to begin to doubt their milk supply and lose confidence.
Before you start to consider the use of a galactagogue, look at the information that will help you to know that your baby is getting enough milk, and also, how to increase your milk supply by many other means FIRST before you think about galactagogues.
The average breastfeeding mother doesn’t need to use galactagogues.
So what are the situations where they may be warranted? You may have a genuine low supply, which hasn’t increased even after doing all of the necessary things to boost it and using all the available information.
You may need to consider the information relating to some other possible causes of low milk supply.
It may be that you are an adoptive mum trying to stimulate your milk supply for your baby or relactating, i.e., getting your milk supply back in again after having stopped breastfeeding for a time.
All of the above are valid potential situations where a galactagogue could be useful.
However, if you are using a galactagogue, it’s important to do ALL of the necessary things to boost supply at the same time.
That means double pumping, skin to skin, best possible positioning, and breast compressions.
All of these things, combined with the galactagogue, will enable you to produce the best possible result.
Without all of those other things, it really will not be useful to take the galactagogue.
From a safety point of view, it’s essential to know that all galactagogues can potentially have side effects.
It’s also important to consider drug interactions, (if you are taking other medication) – so seek out information from your doctor, and from people who are knowledgeable around lactation to check that these are okay for you to take, on an individual basis.
Some galactagogues increase the prolactin hormone that helps to make milk.
Domperidone, which is a prescription medication (the other name for that is Motilium), has been shown by studies to be effective.
These studies show that Domperidone has few side effects, but some recent studies suggest it is not suitable for women who have a history of cardiac problems.
An example of a herbal galactagogue is fenugreek. Fenugreek has been used for many years across the world and often used in cooking as well.
It has been shown, anecdotally, to increase milk supply, although there aren’t any formal scientific studies to back that up.
While only a few galactagogues have been mentioned in this article, there are many more.
To conclude, if you believe that you don’t have enough milk, ensure that you gain knowledge first and work at all the known strategies that will help you to boost your supply.
Seek out skilled help, and only use a galactagogue as a last resort. If you DO use a galactagogue, use it alongside ALL of those tried and tested ways to boost supply.
Review dates, references & further resources
Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022
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