The Truth About Lactation Herbs & Foods (according to IBCLCs)
Certified lactation consultants share their views about lactation herbs and foods (also known as galactagogues)
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Adequate stimulation is BETTER
“No matter how many galactagogues you take if there is not enough stimulation from latching and pumping, supply won’t change as much.
Direct latch and adequate stimulation is still the best.”
-Janice Bustamante-Aton, IBCLC at Malaak Mama and Baby Cara
Reach for food sources first, rather than pills and teas
“I always suggest food sources first, rather than pills and teas to boost supply. Foods such as oats, flax seed, brewers yeast, and root vegetables can be effective to gently boost a mother’s supply while being both nutritious and added without concern.”
-Nicole Kekesi RD, IBCLC at Breastfeeding Resource Center at Virtua
Galactogoges can work well when used appropriately
“Lactation herbs and foods have been a part of optimizing human health from the beginning of history. We’ve just lost that wisdom.”
-Laura Coulter, IBCLC at Chicago Lactation Consultants
We need a little more trust in our bodies, and a little less trust in interventions.
“Let’s turn away from the quick fixes and try to find the root of the problem. Sometimes you just need to know how to tell if a baby is getting enough to eat (if your baby has enough wet/dirty diapers, is gaining weight, and is meeting milestones, you’re golden!)
Overall, we need a little more trust in our bodies and a little less trust in interventions.”
-Tipper Gallagher, IBCLC at The Boob Geek
Galactagogues are great if it's a source of nutrition
“Results from lactation herbs and foods are anecdotal and not evidence based. However, women from different cultures have used galactagogues throughout generations! Galactagogues are great if it's a source of nutrition for mom and baby opposed to risking the dyad.”
-Ileana Berrios, IBCLC at Breastfeeding Latinas
The average mother does not need galactagogues
“The following are examples of situations when a galactagogue use may be useful:
Some working mothers use herbs to increase their pumping output, even though their supply is fine when baby nurses.
Some mothers with a genuinely low milk supply use galactagogues in combination with increased nursing/pumping to increase supply.
Adoptive moms may use galactagogues to increase the amount of milk they are able to provide for their babies.”
-Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC at Kelly Mom
There’s no magic pill that can replace feeding or pumping
“Just like a healthy diet and exercise is the best way to lose weight, the best way to make milk is to frequently empty the breasts. There’s no magic pill that can replace feeding or pumping.
Like vitamin C is good to boost immunity but won’t necessarily prevent a cold, there are herbs and supplements that when used correctly can support breastfeeding and increase supply.”
-Julie Matheney, IBCLC at The LA Lactation Lady
Consult with your doctor before using herbs
“Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider when introducing any herbs or supplements in conjunction with any medications you’re already on.”
-Lindsey Shipley, IBCLC at Lactation Link