Over the course of the last 9 years, I have been very thankful that I have had the ability to breastfeed all of my children.
It has been something I truly have enjoyed – and when the time comes for the last child to move on, I’ll admit – I might be more than a little sad. I’m fairly certain that is to be expected.. and I’m sure other women have felt the same with their children.
Sometimes, for one reason or another, you may encounter some issues with breastfeeding your little one – I experienced a small hiccup when I was with baby 4, and my monthly menses came back very early. My 4th child breastfed but wasn’t as wild about breastfeeding and was a very light eater – I’m certain that was not enough to suppress my menses and when it came back early (she was 4 months old), my milk supply dropped drastically.
At the time, I used Fennel Essential Oil (which you can read about here) – but many women opt to try Fenugreek or Milk Thistle. In many cases, a prescription isn’t the best route for you or your baby, so these two options are more viable. You may have questions on which one of the two herbs is best, and which is recommended over the other.
Fenugreek is used to treat many ailments – one of which is breast milk production. The plant is native to the Mediterranean, and is grown in Egypt, Morocco and India. Although there is no science to show how it works, the herb does contain phytoestrogens that are plant chemicals (similar to that of estrogen), that increase milk production.
Fenugreek works as quickly as 24 hours – and once your supply is boosted, you can stop taking the herb and the body will continue to produce at that level. Many women will tell you that their urine emits a really sweet “maple” type odor when they are taking Fenugreek .. and aside from that, other effects are minor (loose stool, and uterine contractions).
As you would with any medication or herb, ensure you are taking your Fenugreek with adequate water and if you are diabetic, seek advice from your doctor before taking any herbal remedy.
Milk Thistle is also another herbal remedy – while it mainly serves to help with gallbladder and liver disorders, it also works much like Fenugreek in that it increases milk production in nursing mothers.
While Fenugreek can help increase production in as little as 24 hours, Milk Thistle can take up to 4 days – and once you begin to take Milk Thistle you must remain taking it to keep your breast milk levels at adequate supply.
Unlike Fenugreek, Milk Thistle has a few more side effects – it can cause allergic reaction and can have an impact on blood sugar levels (if you are diabetic, talk to your doctor before taking Milk Thistle). It can also lead to upset stomach, headache and itching.
Most people can find both Milk Thistle and Fenugreek at their local Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy or even drugstore – or nearest health food store if your grocery doesn’t carry it in stock. Amazon carries them too.
Your local grocery store may also carry Mother’s Milk Tea that you can take in conjunction with Fenugreek OR Milk Thistle to support healthy breast milk production. You can also order Mother’s Milk tea on Amazon.