One of the issues likely to come up in any group of breastfeeding mothers is low milk supply. Once the topic has been raised, often quick on its heels are suggestions for how to boost breast milk production. These might include foods, herbs, and even prescription medications. All of these qualify as galactagogues as they help increase milk supply.
The word “galactagogues” comes from the Greek “galacta,” meaning milk.
Before you decide on any type of galactagogue, consider your reason for doing so.
Galactagogues won’t replace lactation advice or regular nursing. The best diet for a breastfeeding mother is a balanced diet rich with fresh fruits and veggies.
If you are having difficulty producing milk, your doctor can recommend a lactation consultant. Your body will only produce as much as it needs. If you often skip feedings, you can count on having low supply. This is also true if you feed only a little or don’t pump when you bottle feed.
Any mother goes through an emotional, physical transition in her life as there are huge hormonal changes. All this can affect the milk production and overall supply. Galactogogues here can be helpful to deal with this transition by increasing milk supply.
Following are the 5 reasons why mothers should incorporate galactogogues in their diet.
- Increase Production of Oxytocin: Oxytocin is a hormone responsible for the milk production. Unripe papaya is a galactogogue that helps to elevate the production of Oxytocin, Thus, regular consumption of unripe papaya (in moderation) works wonders to trigger a rise in breast milk production.
- Provide Antibacterial, antifungal, anti inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties: garlic is a herbal galactogogue which has all the above mentioned health benefits needed for a lactating mother.
- Antioxidant effect : Another herbal galactogogue ginger is laden with antioxidants and also has antibacterial and antifungal effects. Ginger is a wonder herb that comes as a blessing for women with low/decreased milk supply. However, it is always advisable to consume ginger (be it as a flavouring agent in foods or health drinks and tea) in moderation for maximum benefits.
- Helps to maintain a healthy gut : A Galactagogue herb called Fennel seeds has immense health benefits for the mother as well as the baby. It improves digestion, increases metabolism and helps to strengthen the gut along with boosting the production of milk.
- Speeds up postpartum recovery: Another galactogogue called fenugreek seeds help to speed up the postpartum recovery and healing. It also reduces the symptoms and discomfort associated with postpartum anaemia, fenugreek seeds will never fail to amaze you with its health benefits. In addition to being laden with diosgenin, a phytoestrogen, fenugreek seeds also help to elevate the production of progesterone as well as prolactin, all of which contributes towards an increase in the production of breast milk.
If you have tried the actions and foods listed above, but you are not able to increase the amount of breast milk that you’re making, then you have to consult your gynaecologist and lactation consultant. Sometimes, medical issues such as underdeveloped breasts, or previous breast cancer treatments prevent the production of a healthy breast milk supply and the body is not able to respond to the galactogogues. In that case, you may have to supplement your baby with additional nutrition as prescribed by the gynaecologist.
Over to you
In spite of all the health benefits, it is still advisable to consult your attending physician before incorporating these foods and herbs into your diet. Last but not the least,take care of your own health both physically and mentally. You can only breastfeed properly if you are healthy.