Increasing your milk supply with supplements
Depending what the cause of your low milk supply is, the treatment you use will differ.
Sometimes it may be as simple as rest, a good diet and frequent breastfeeds. However, some medical conditions might need more support. A lactation consultant can help you diagnose the problem and find the best course of treatment.
Lactation consultant Pinky McKay says that it is important to feed regularly along with taking galactagogues. You should also make sure your breasts are drained after feeds, offer the breast at every subtle signal, get as much rest as you can, drink according to your thirst and eat nutritious foods and snacks.
“If you are not eating enough food, or your diet is of a poor quality, addressing it can go a long way with boosting supply,” says McKay.
Galactagogues are foods, herbs or medications that can help to increase breast milk supply. They should only be used with a doctor's advice, as therapeutic levels of them can affect other areas of your health and wellbeing. Galactagogues work best for women with low prolactin levels.
It is important to keep giving regular feeds to also boost supply. Here are a few of the most common galactagogues:
Herbs and foods
Fenugreek has been used for years, but is recently becoming quite popular. So far, research has failed to show an effect on breast milk, and McKay cautions that therapeutic doses can interfere with blood sugar levels and thyroid function, which can actually reduce milk supply – not to mention making you feel unwell at a time when you need your strength!
Oats are a wholegrain rich in the protein beta-glucen, which has been found to increase prolactin. Oats also contain saponins, which have immune-stimulating and antibiotic effects and can be used by the body as precursors to the production of hormones including the pituitary hormones that stimulate lactation.
This grain-like seed is a complete protein, containing all eight essential amino acids. It’s also rich in vitamin E, selenium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, folate and riboflavin. Like oats, quinoa also contains saponins, which the body can use as precursors to the production of hormones including the pituitary hormones that stimulate lactation.
Loaded with essential minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, phosphorus, calcium and zinc (which promotes bone health and prevents osteoporosis later in life), sesame seeds are are reputed to be the most lactogenic of any of the seeds.
Domperidone is a prescription drug used to treat gastrointestinal disorders, and a number of quality scientific studies have shown that it appears to work well to boost supply. While the research says domperidone has few side effects, it is not recommended for use by women with a history of cardiac problems. McKay says it should only be used under medical supervision and you should advise your specialists of any other medications you are taking, as well as any existing health complications or conditions.
Metoclopramide is another prescription drug used to treat gastrointestinal disorders that has been found to increase supply. Unlike domperidone, it crosses the blood-brain barrier and has the potential to cause central nervous system side effects such as restlessness, drowsiness, fatigue and depression. McKay cautions against the use of Maxolon and says taking a medication that can create feelings of depression and suicide ideation at a time women may already be feeling vulnerable is a concern.
More food suggestions to boost your breast milk supply
“Eggs are protein rich,” McKay says. “Boil a carton at a time to have them ready to eat as snacks. Oats are an easy breakfast, or even toast with hummus is a quick and nutrient-rich snack to keep your body going and help it produce nutritious milk. Going back to basics is the best nutritional advice – plenty of fresh wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, lean meats, dairy and water to drink.”
And with most supermarkets now offering shopping deliveries, you can just schedule a weekly drop from your food store of choice. Many even have a re-order button so you don’t have to reselect the same foods every week.
Did you have lots of breastmilk or not enough? What did you try to boost your milk supply?