Galactagogues – Do you need to increase milk production?

Galactogogues - Transcript

Galactogogues – Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Alfalfa and more

Any substance that can potentially increase milk supply is called a galactagogue – it’s a very unusual name, that’s for sure! We know that these galactagogues can be herbal, e.g fenugreek, blessed thistle, alfalfa. These are all very common herbal galactagogues but you can also get prescription medications as well, which have this impact.

However, before you go racing out to buy these products, know that the majority of you can make all the milk that your babies need, and even more than that if necessary. One of the problems is that mums are looking at the changing patterns of the baby and losing confidence in their milk supply. So please look at all the information in the videos that will help you to know that your baby is getting enough milk – also, how to boost your supply by many other means FIRST before you think about galactagogues.

You may not need a galactagogue

The average breastfeeding mother doesn’t need to use galactagogues. So what are the situations where they might be warranted? You have a genuine low supply, you’ve tried everything you can to boost that supply with all the available information. You’ve looked at medical factors in yourself that might have contributed to that low supply. It may be that you are an adoptive mum trying to get that milk supply in for your adoptive baby, or relactating, getting your milk supply back in again when you had stopped breastfeeding for a time. So all of those are valid potential situations where a galactagogue could be useful.

But let me make it clear that if you are using a galactagogue, it’s really important that you do ALL of the things to boost supply at the same time. That means: double pumping, skin to skin, best possible positioning, breast compressions. All of these things, combined with the galactagogue, will have the best possible result. Without all of those other things, it’s really not going to be useful to take that galactagogue.

Side effects from galactagogues

It’s important to know that whatever galactagogue you are taking, from a safety point of view, all galactagogues can potentially have side effects, and drug interactions even, (maybe that you’re on some other medication) – so it’s important that you 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. .

How galactagogues work

We know that some will increase the prolactin hormone that helps to make milk. Domperidone, which is a prescription medication, (the other name for that is Motilium)- that has been shown by a couple of studies, to be effective. These studies show that Domperidone has few side effects but recent studies are suggesting that they shouldn’t be used for women who have a history of cardiac problems.

An example of a herbal galactagogue is fenugreek, which has been used for many 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.

I’ve only mentioned a couple of galactagogues here, but there are many more. Just to conclude, I would really encourage you that if you’re feeling that you don’t have enough milk, that you find all ways of boosting supply, getting that skilled help, and working on all of those things – and using the 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

Review Dates

V1 published June 2017. Next review date: April 2020


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