Galactagogues (things that improve your milk supply)

The word galactagogue means a herb or medication that is commonly used to increase milk supply.  Some of these have been used safely for many, many years and others are relatively new.

Different galactagogues are thought to work in different ways.  Some of the prescription medications are developed for another purpose (like controlling nausea) and the increase in milk supply was noted as a side effect.  Some of the herbs are taken as tablets, as a hot drink or mixed with food.  Prescription medications can only be obtained with a script from a doctor.

When considering starting a galactagogue, there should always be a careful look at what is actually happening with the baby and with the mother.  There are many situations which can be remedied quickly by a simple change in the approach to feeding.  For some mums, simply letting the baby access the breast more would be enough to improve her supply.

For other people, more involved strategies are needed, and these should be overseen by a lactation consultant (IBCLC).  This includes situations involving the baby not being able to maintain the mother’s supply.  When the breastfeeding management strategies are not enough, it may be time to consider a galactagogue.

One of the most important things to remember is this – no matter what/how many galactagogues you take,  IF THE BREAST IS NOT DRAINED WELL AND FREQUENTLY, THEY PROBABLY WON’T WORK.

If you are considering starting on a galactagogue, or are struggling with low supply, you might like to contact me to discuss your situation or book in for a consultation.  If you’ve used a galactagogue and have any comments about it, I’d love to see a comment from you (below).


3 Comments

  1. Hi, I’ve got what I believe to be insufficient glandular tissue of the breasts as I fit at least 3 of the ‘symptoms’ of this ‘diagnosis’… I once had my breasts examined and even the doctor noted that I have abnormal breast tissue. Ive just recently become a mother of a beautiful little boy and my breast feeding journey got off to a great start, by week 3 that had all changed… I began to notice issues with my supply, despite nursing for hours upon hours (I sat there for 9 hours on one particular day) I have had previous breastfeeding experience, however that was a stressful time as my son was born 5 1/2 weeks early and had a poor latch and sucking reflex and I never really ‘felt’ my milk coming in… i battled on for 3 weeks, eventually I collapsed on the kitchen floor and cried, I didn’t even have enough milk to give my son for his next feed… That was it, is come to the end of the road…

    Fast forward 2 years and I find myself here, I really thought I could breastfeed this time, I was determined, I had my heart set in it from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I dreamt of what breastfeeding would be like… To feel my child, suckling on my breasts, the amazing bond that only we could share… In those first 2 weeks, breastfeeding was magical… Never have I felt so complete and oddly enough, I felt beautiful… Then it took a turn for the worse… I got extremely sick, which saw me bed bound for a week, I was so unwell that I didn’t have the strength within me, to offer my breasts to my son… I began expressing my milk… And as often as I could I had him at my breasts, we went skin to skin… Eventually I got well enough to begin bresstfeeding again… However my supply had dropped, all I could think about was that it was around the 3 week mark las time, when I has supply vs demand issues… I didn’t want this to be the beginning of the end… I nursed constantly, my newborn became extremely unhappy and fussy, thrashing his tiny fists against my breast and arching himself backwards while screaming… I pulled him off my breast and tried to manually get my milk out, there was no massive gush, just a few tiny drops… I had my heart set on breastfeeding, however I knew I was going to have to supplement with formula, our ritual then consisted of breast first, formula second and to finish I would pump… Because he was born 3 weeks early, he was put on 3 hourly feeds… I’d no sooner finish the about ‘routine’ and it was time to begin again… I went to the Heath food shop and was told that blessed thistle will help, I took it and noticed a marginal increase… I spent many h

  2. Hours reading and researching… And put all of my new found knowledge into practice… I’m now at 8 weeks and my regime consists of:

    3 blessed thistle tablets, 3 times a day
    3 fenugreek tablets, 3 times a day
    3 brewers yeast tablets, 3 times a day
    2 breastfeeding multivitamins, once a day
    And 2 glasses of water with every round of tablets taken…

    I pump until nothing comes out, I then manually express until nothing comes out… All in all I get 10ml out if both breasts… It doesn’t flow out, it drips… So drop by drop I’m collecting breastmilk, from my breasts that are clearly failing me… It’s heartbreaking, gut wrenching and devestating… I’m determined though and will keep going… Anything is better than nothing…

  3. Stacey Revie

    Thanks for the comments Tamara. Every drop of breastmilk your baby is getting is so valuable, as is the experience of having your baby at the breast for part of each feed. There are other strategies that can be used to help with mothers in this situation – different ways to supplement and prescription medications are a few. If you would like to discuss your options please feel free to give me a call sometime.

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