Breastfeeding Supplements: The Good, The Bad, and the Maybe
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Breastfeeding Supplements: The Good, The Bad, and the Maybe

Do you want to use breastfeeding supplements to boost your supply?  Or do you want to dry it out?  Believe it or not, there are many breastfeeding supplements and herbs that can help you achieve whatever your goal is.  Let us help you so that you are sure that you are taking the right one for your needs.

I, too, am a breastfeeding mom and there are so many things running in my mind.  Will this food augment my supply or hurt it?  Is this safe?  Will consuming this hurt my baby?  

The thing is that many babies are born day by day, year by year, and yet we can’t get answers for everything related to this…which is kind of weird if you ask me.

One thing is for sure though.  Over-the-counter and prescribed medications call for doctor supervision.  He or she can tell you about the benefits and risks based on the labels of the medicine (as directed by FDA).

It’s different for teas, supplements, and herbs though.  The reason is that those are not regulated by FDA.  And for that, your OB-GYN will, honestly, have no idea what to tell you and it is definitely not their fault.

Are Breastfeeding Supplements Safe?

It depends on the ingredients.  As mentioned earlier, breastfeeding supplements are not standardized by Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

There are barely enough studies and funding for them so most of the results that we get from them are based on experiences and comments from other users.  They are changeable and uncertain so there’s no telling if they are useful or not.

More often than not, OB-GYN and other medical practitioners will answer with a resounding “NO” when asked about using a particular breastfeeding supplement.  And why is that?

The unknown scares us especially when it comes to new mommies and newborn babies.  Health care providers are fearful of being blamed or sued.  The thing with this thought is that it can be disadvantageous to be scared or prohibit people from trying out things.  

However, there are still other doctors who prefer to test it out.  For them, you can use breastfeeding supplements or herbs if they work fine.  But if not, stop altogether.

Fortunately, there are studies that can prove which supplements we can use, which to walk away from, and which we can maybe try. We’ll be discussing that in a while.

Good Breastfeeding Supplements That Work

Welcome Moringa

The Moringa Oleifera is an emerging superstar in the breastfeeding world.  It has been used all over the world for many years now, but has been getting recognition lately in North America.  Many breastfeeding moms have been raving about how amazing this supplement is.  It has also become a fan favorite and commonly referred to.

It has been tested in animals, and lauded for its powerful nutritional content.  In addition to that, it also contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  

I must admit that more human studies are needed to cement the claims.  However, a study on breastfeeding mothers using moringa reported that there are no detrimental side effects.

You can get your dose of Moringa Oleifera from capsules, teas, or in powder form.  I personally like the powder form as it can be added to your soup, juice, and smoothies.  This is really great for those who don’t like its taste and smell.

By the way, it is also known as malunggay, its Filipino name.

Hail Lecithin

Lecithin is safe for pregnant and lactating moms.  It is useful in boosting milk flow, and keeping milk from solidifying in the duct.  This is specially helpful for those who are suffering from plugged ducts or mastitis.

You can pick either the soy or sunflower-based lecithin supplements.  They are both good for you.

Bad Breastfeeding Supplements

Say Goodbye to Sage

If you aim to increase your milk supply, you need to stay away from sage.  According to a testimonial of a mother with a rich supply of breast milk, she only drank a tiny cup of sage tea and she almost lost her supply.

This depends on how fast your body reacts to what you consume though.  There are many moms who need to consume bottles of sage tea everyday to reduce their supply, while others, like the mom who testified, only needed a cup.

Therefore, it is recommended that you get to know your body because our bodies respond differently to things (or food) that we encounter.  What worked for one mom may not work for you.  This is especially important if you intend to try different breastfeeding supplements.

Sage is often suggested to mothers who wish to stop breastfeeding (particularly those who have lost their babies), or to moms who want to have their child adopted.

Stay Away from CBD and essential oils

You already know that CBD and essential oils are both popular these days, albeit controversial.

While there have been many reports of the positive effects of CBD on several ailments,  it still needs to be studied when it comes to consumption during pregnancy and lactation.  Its impact is unknown yet so we need to exercise caution.

Essential oils are confusing as well.  There are many people who can attest to their efficiency as they have been used for many years without problems.  They are naturally obtained as well.

However, essential oils also have their fair share of negative side effects, and are not safe to use for pregnant and breastfeeding women, even for children until 6 years old.

You need to be careful with anything that is trendy and popular specially when it involves a baby.

No Peppermint Please

If you need to establish and increase your supply, stay away from peppermint at all costs.  It was reported in one study that it can dry up your precious liquid gold.  The culprit?  Menthol!

One to two cups of peppermint tea should not terrify you.  The good news is that teas are gentler than capsules so this is a great way to test out breastfeeding supplements.  Capsules, on the other hand, have 10 times the dose of tea.

The In-Between

Unsure with Fenugreek

I often hear of people recommending fenugreek for lactating moms before.  However, this changed after a study on 85 breastfeeding moms who ingested fenugreek.  A whopping 45% experienced negative effects.

While it is true that it is an effective galactagogue, its aftereffects outweigh its benefits.  Those who have sensitive tummies should expect excessive gas, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal issues.  Those who have diabetes should avoid this as well.

Allergic to peanuts?  If so, proceed with extra caution when dealing with fenugreek as this is included in the legume family.  The same goes for those who suffer from allergic reactions to chickpeas and legumes.

What to Do Before Trying Breastfeeding Supplements?

As already mentioned, there are some risks to taking breastfeeding supplements as each body reacts differently.  For instance, one small cup of sage tea can dry up one mom’s supply while others need to consume bottles and bottles before that happens.

Thus, it is important to try the tips below before purchasing your own supply of breastfeeding supplements:

  • Strictly follow your pumping schedule if you are exclusively pumping.  Make sure that you pump at least 120 minutes per day.
  • Try breast compressions as you pump.
  • Breast pump parts can wear out after some time of use so make sure that they are still functioning well.  If not, replace those parts if you notice that your supply dropped.
  • You can power pump for a week.  Once a day will do.
  • Hydrate as much as you can.  

Those are ways to boost your supply without the added horror and risks.

You can also talk to a lactation specialist.  He or she can give you all the help that you need before you try breastfeeding supplements.  Good luck and I hope that you can get through your breastfeeding struggles, momma!

Elkyra Park

I'm a first time mom who wants to help parents navigate parenthood unscathed. I know being a parent can be all too overwhelming and daunting all at the same time so let's help each other in this exciting journey.
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