In my work as a lactation consultant, I often see women swallowing handfuls of pills to boost their milk supply.
As I delve deeper, I discover that rather than explore and address the possible range of reasons for perceived or real low milk supply – from inappropriate breastfeeding advice and baby issues such as poor latch, ineffective sucking, tongue tie, low oral muscle tone, to maternal medical conditions such as breast surgery, retained placenta, postpartum haemorrhage, PCOS, Diabetes, Thyroid conditions and insufficient glandular tissue (IGT) or lifestyle issues such as alcohol and smoking or birth control pills - many of these women have headed straight to the medicine cabinet.
Often the advice to take supplements, medication and herbs has come from health professionals. So it must be safe, right? And natural – that is, herbs – must be better than prescription, right? Actually there can be potentially harmful side effects from both natural and prescription medications currently being advised for breastfeeding mothers to increase breast milk supply.
According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, a US based organisation of physicians specialising in breastfeeding medicine, “emerging data suggest that we should exercise more caution in recommending drugs to induce or increase the rate of milk secretion in lactating women, particularly in women without specific risk factors for insufficient milk supply.” Just as with any medication, whether herbal or pharmaceutical, women should be advised of all possible contraindications so they can weigh up risks versus benefits and make choices accordingly. It is particularly important when you are breastfeeding or pregnant that you are aware of any side effects that may be harmful to yourself or your baby.
Natural is not always better
Fenugreek, a herb commonly used in curries and chutney, is widely suggested to breastfeeding mothers who are concerned about their milk supply. Because fenugreek is ‘natural’ most women assume it’s fine to swallow a few capsules when milk supply feels a bit low. However, the dosage of a few seeds added to a curry that is shared.... LINK IN BIO TO FULL BLOG POST