Herbs for Breastfeeding

March 19th, 2012 · 1 Comment · Herbs for

Herbs for breastfeeding can help make nurturing your child easier.

Herbs for breastfeeding can help make nurturing your child easier.

The life experiences of our employees and the natural remedies they use are something we like to share with our readers. Take a look here for Katie’s picks on herbs for breastfeeding and learn how you can incorporate certain foods and herbs into your diet to help promote a better milk supply as well as assist your body in suppressing the supply when the time comes.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful, natural, and fulfilling way to feed and nurture your newborn.  This bonding experience between mother and baby offers the perfect nutrition by passing on crucial antibodies to a baby while helping the mother’s body heal from labor and delivery.  The benefits of breastfeeding are endless but for some, they don’t come easy.  Difficulties like lack of or too much milk can be frustrating and problematic but there are many foods and herbs for breastfeeding that can help a woman adjust her milk supply to better serve her baby and her body.

Herbs for Breastfeeding: Got Milk?

There are many herbs, called galactogogues, which can help increase milk supply.  Fenugreek is one of the most common herbs used to help increase milk production in lactating women and is available in capsule, tincture or a tea form.  This herb for breastfeeding support has an aroma of maple syrup and can give the milk a mildly sweet taste. Blessed Thistle is other popular herb for breastfeeding and works well in combination with Fenugreek. Alfalfa, Anise Seed, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Goat’s Rue, Hops, Nettles and Red Raspberry Leaf all have been used to assist in milk production and there are various forms of each for consumption.

Getting a healthy milk supply is possible by using herbs for breastfeeding.

Getting a healthy milk supply is possible by using herbs for breastfeeding.

Foods that may help are oatmeal and brewer’s yeast as well as foods high in iron (like molasses).

Aside from these foods and herbs for breastfeeding, there’s also the option to seek help from an authority in the field. Lactation consultants are healthcare providers specializing in the fields of human lactation and breastfeeding and are able to offer advice and direction for mothers. These consultants can be crucial if you think you are not producing enough milk or are having difficulty in breastfeeding your child. Guidance for proper feeding times and help with latching on or massage, compression, and pumping techniques to improve supply are among the general topics they are able to assist with.  Lactation consultants can be found in private practices, on staff in hospitals or through local support groups.

Herbs for Breastfeeding: Got Too Much Milk?

Just as there are herbs for breastfeeding to help increase milk production, there are also herbs to help when it is time to wean. Herbs which help reduce or suppress milk production are Sage, Parsley, Oregano and Peppermint.  A capsule is probably the easiest way to take these herbs though cooking with them or ingesting them in as a tea, tincture, or essential oil is also effective.  Parsley, for example, can be juiced and added to smoothies or soups for an easy way to gain the benefits from this herb. While these herbs are some of the most popular in cooking, try to remember to remove them from your diet when keeping your milk supply up is of importance.

Sage, Parsley, Oregano, and Peppermint are best used only if you are in the process of weaning, though they may also be used in extreme cases of oversupply.  Incorporating essential oils of these herbs with carrier oils, as well as green cabbage leaves, can be applied topically to the breast to reduce milk supply.

Herbs for breastfeeding can be used to improve or lessen milk supply.

Herbs for breastfeeding can be used to improve or lessen milk supply.

Again, use caution with these remedies if you are not in the weaning process!  A small amount used for seasoning food should not have an effect but it is best to eliminate these herbs and foods if there is a problem with your milk production.

 

A Note about Breastfeeding and Baby’s Digestion:  Baby’s digestive systems are immature and still developing at the start of their lives.  It is important to be aware of this as every food that mom eats gets passed on to baby through breast milk.  In the first few months of breastfeeding it is a good idea to limit gassy foods such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc) and to avoid very spicy foods that may also upset a baby’s stomach.  Some moms find that dairy is upsetting to their baby’s digestion and find it helpful to limit those foods in the first couple of months as well.  Fortunately, many of the galactagogue herbs listed above are also carminatives (helpful for relieving gas).  Nourishing foods like soups and stews full of healthy proteins and vegetables are both soothing and healing to both mom and baby’s bodies.  Chamomile, Oatstraw and Lemon Balm are wonderful Nervines (herbs that are calming and nourishing to the nerves) and can benefit a baby when the mother takes them.  Mom should also keep taking prenatal vitamins and DHA while nursing her baby.

The remedies and herbs shared in this blog post are not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician. Check out out Pre/Post Natal Section of our shop and also refer to these blogs for guidance on herbs to avoid during pregnancy for the health of your baby, herbs for kids, and herbs to cure nausea.

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