Milk Supply Issues

Posted by  | Tuesday, January 20, 2009  at 2:25 PM  
Here is a list of antigalactogogues (things that decrease your milk supply):
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • drugs for colds/allergies (decongestants, antihistamines, anti-inflammatories)
  • stress
  • barley sprout (fried)
  • bugleweed (leaf/stem)
  • cabbage leaf externally applied (crumple leaf and apply to engorged breast)
  • chasteberry (fruit/leaf)
  • mint (leaf and essential oil)
  • fava bean (flower, well cooked bean)
  • flannelweed
  • greek oregano
  • jasmine (flower) externally applied
  • mugwort
  • osha root
  • parsley
  • peppermint
  • pigeon pea
  • pygeum
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • shakuyaku-kanzoto (peony and licorice)
  • urva-ursi
  • velvet bean
  • water mint
  • white sage
  • yarrow

For increasing your milk supply, La Leche League recommends fenugreek (3 capsules, 3 x per day) alone or with Blessed Thistle (3 capsules, 3x). It usually takes at least 24 hours to begin to see any effect.

In Egypt, home to the fenugreek research for increasing women's milk supply, the common wisdom is to cook fenugreek (it looks similar to wheat) like you would oatmeal and then serve with milk and honey. All new moms drink this regularly after giving birth.

For any mamas with supply issues, please let us know if you've found any of these to be true and what has worked for you!

21 comments:

Terra Jones said...

Oatmeal worked for me. I didn't really have supply issues, I just wanted to up my supply so I could pump extra for Benjamin to get a bottle from daddy in the evenings and let me 'rest' (aka - get stuff done around the house, lol)

My lactation consultant suggested trying that before the fenugreek. She said some women get an upset stomach from the fenugreek...oatmeal makes my stomach turn, but, it worked well enough, lol

erinboydodom said...

I noticed a dip in my milk supply about a month after going back to work despite pumping twice per day. I took fenugreek (3 capsules, 3 times/day), tried to eat oatmeal most mornings, and added one more pumping session in order to get the milk supply back up. It took a few days, but it worked! I also tried to nurse my daughter more frequently in the evenings when I was at home. I only had to work until she was 6 months, but it was well worth the extra work of pumping and taking fenugreek, etc., so I could continue to breastfeed. My baby is over 7 months now, and she still prefers mommy to the bottle! I hope to breastfeed as long as I can and will go back to fenugreek/oatmeal/pumping if I ever need to!

Oh--I also drank Mother's Milk tea some. I guess everything you can do doesn't hurt!

Nursing is hard work at first, but after a while it really pays off with the health benefits and is so much easier than having to prep bottles all the time (and cheaper too)!

Christina said...

I second the Oatmeal! When I was fighting hard to keep my supply up in the beginning with Will (when he was a preemie and I was pumping all the time) and when I went back to work....it always seemed a battle to me. I added oatmeal for breakfast EVERY day and it worked.

I tried fenugreek, but it did upset my stomach - but more so Will's! He had horrid green poop! I haven't needed to do any supply boosting this go 'round and I'm certain its because there has been no regular pumping involved!

I also tried the mother's milk tea...but couldn't stand the taste!

travisandstephanie said...

I had problems with supply at first because Sam was born tongue-tied and had to learn how to nurse after his frenulum was snipped when he was a few days old. I had to pump for the first couple of weeks and give him bottles to make sure he was getting what he needed while he "practiced." My OB wrote me a prescription for Reglan ($4 acid reflux med) and it did wonders! In one weekend when Sam was almost 2 weeks old, I pumped enough extra milk to fill a pint jar (maybe TMI- but just giving an example.) Now, I just use it to boost my supply when he goes through growth spurts.

travisandstephanie said...

Oops- I meant to say quart jar, but anyways...

Lauren said...

I tried oatmeal, fenugreek capsules, mother's milk tea, reglan, and pumping like it was my job, all in addition to letting my children nurse on demand and for as long as they wanted, and nothing ever worked to increase my milk supply in either quality or quantity. :o( I have had 2 unsuccessful breastfeeding experiences, with both of my children dropping well over a pound below discharge weight (even less than birth weight) by their 2-week checkup, but I remain hopeful (and prayerful!) that I will be able to breastfeed successfully one day.

I have seen more LCs (and had my breasts seen and touched by more people than I'd care to tally up), and so far no one has been able to tell me anything I haven't yet tried. I have heard of an herbal tincture called Maxi Milk (available at mountainmeadowherbs.com) that's supposed to be nothing short of miraculous, so perhaps I'll try that next time. The only thing I haven't tried is domperidone, but that's only because I can't find any doctors who will prescribe it for me, even though other countries have been using it successfully (and with fewer incidents of side effects than with Reglan) for years.

Hopefully - prayerfully - with our next child we'll have a successful feeding experience! :o)

Shannon said...

Hey, I bought Fenugreek in powder form, from a local Indian/Pakistani store. (Right here in the middle of SE Texas.) Do you know how I could incorporate that into foods? Maybe cook it with my regular oatmeal?

Lauren,
I know it must be really frustrating - even heartbreaking - to have such troubles with breast feeding. I pray that with your next little one God will touch your body and enable you to nurse as He designed. Blessings to you.
Shannon

Jessica said...

Ladies,
I just recently started back to work and have been pumping but have noticed a decrease... the doctors put me on Reglan, and it seems to be working great, it was really cheap too!

I really enjoy ya'lls blog! Keep it up!

Jessica said...

Ladies,
I just recently started back to work and have been pumping but have noticed a decrease... the doctors put me on Reglan, and it seems to be working great, it was really cheap too!

I really enjoy ya'lls blog! Keep it up!

erinboydodom said...

I second what Christina said about the pumping. I don't ever seem to have supply issues when I am just regularly nursing my daughter (like when I had breaks from school, like during Christmas break), but when I returned to pumping, things seemed to mess up. I DO think adding extra pump sessions can help get milk supply back up, but it is secondary to the baby actually nursing him/herself. I read not to even try pumping until the baby was at least 4 weeks old (unless you have to b/c of weak suck, etc.) b/c it can mess up supply. I did that, and I was so glad. The only reason I started pumping when she was 4 weeks was because I knew I would have to do it when I went back to work, and I wanted to get used to it, and put a stash away. Also, I didn't even try giving my baby a bottle of expressed milk until about a week before I went back to work. I didn't want her to get "nipple confusion" or prefer the bottle to me. I read that many babies give up nursing because they figure out they can get the milk faster through a bottle. I prevented this by using Breastflow bottles from First Years. I always used the slow flow nipple at first, too. The bottle's nipple works just like the breast. The baby has to latch on and really work to get the milk out. The only downside is that Breastflow bottles still contain bpa. To get around this, I used Avent Tempo bottle liners. They are bpa-free and work great in the Breastflow bottles! I know this may sound like a commercial for BF bottles. I just wanted to share what really worked for me. I tried everything with going back to work b/c I really didn't want to give up nursing my baby!

KC said...

My son bites instead of sucks and has in inefficient suck pattern when he does suck. It isn't teething or anything, he is only 3 months old. He just simply doesn't understand what to do. He sees a dysphasia specialist and we have exercises we do to help him learn. I ALMOST lost my supply due to his problems and had to start pumping (with a hospital grade pump) after each nursing session to make sure my breasts were "drained." I also take fenugreek and eat oatmeal. My supply problems are ongoing, but I am determined to offer my son the best nutrition possible. Please pray that his pattern improves before he gets teeth, or that will be the end of nursing!

Mark'sMeg said...

Eating quinoa regularly is supposed to help your milk supply as well. It is an ancient (Indian, I think :) cultural tradition that pregnant and nursing mothers eat quinoa every day. It gives you lots of protein as well!

Hugh & Hollie Carson said...

Meg,
Tell us where you get your quinoa. Hope your nursing days are going well with your newby! Congrats!

Christina said...

Meg - I had no idea quinoa was good for milk production! Interesting...I may try some as I'm seeing a natural dip in my supply during my period. Happened with my son and it doesn't seem to bother Adeline, but it bothers me, so I've been trying to eat more Oatmeal and be sure i'm drinking plenty of fluid! (In fact, I've got to go get our baked oatmeal out of the oven...yum!)

Maybe I'll buy some Quinoa to try next week!

Hollie - I think she said before that you can get it at Whole Foods or Earth Fare...but I've seen it at Harris Teeter. It's probably more expensive at HT though....and Target is carrying more natural foods now, so maybe they have it?

Christina said...

Oh and one more thing...

Krista - exactly how much rosemary or sage might one need to consume to see a decrease in milk?? I totally made a chicken soup loaded with those herbs....ate it for several days and now am wondering if that is what caused my milk supply to decrease so much and not just my period?!?

Krista said...

Christina,
Great question and I have no idea what the answer is! Sorry.

Mark'sMeg said...

Yeah, Earth Fare or Whole Foods is the best place to get it around here. If you know you will like it, the BreadBeckers Co-op sells it in bulk for a much better price. If you want to know more about quinoa, I blogged about how I use it at:
http://megsfavrecipes.blogspot.com/2008/12/healthy-hint-why-i-love-quinoa.html

Robin Baker said...

Lauren - so sorry to hear about your troubles. The Bible talks about milk maids for a reason - not all women are able to BF and some women have extra (over supply)! You did the best you could and that's all you can do. Hoping it works out for you the next baby.

Robin Baker said...

this list would've been very helpful for me 3 years ago when I had a very painful over supply until my son was 8 months old. For some reason I had 'just enough' and sometimes not enough with baby #2 that came 20 months later. Not sure the rhyme or reason, but I'm now expecting baby #3 and looking forward to nursing again =). thanks for the list!
My mom told me her doctor said BEER was supposed to help the milk supply... hmmmm

Curt, Mariah, & Carli Badura said...

I, like Lauren, have had 2 unsuccessful breastfeeding experiences. I still tear up about it (Carli is 27 months and Cole is 10 weeks) but know God is in control and I did the best I could.

With Carli, I pumped after every breastfeeding and bottle session and the most I ever pumped was 2 ounces... for 7 months, but she got EVERY drop I could give her. She was 5 weeks early and started her life being fed thru a feeding tube. We used a nipple shield and I remember the excitement when our doula helped me stop using it. Carli would just get so MAD b/c she couldn’t get anything or enough out fast enough. Like Lauren, I tried oatmeal, fenugreek capsules, mother's milk tea, blessed thistle capsules, putting a HUGE containter of water in the fridge that was MINE so I could make sure I was drinking enough water each day, and it seems like I may have tried a few other things. 8 years ago, I had a severe stroke like allergic reaction to reglan, so I didn't try that and like someone else mentioned, several people recommended beer, but I quickly dismissed that suggestion!

With Cole, I pumped the first 2 weeks (I thought that would help my milk come in) and I still believe it did. I went up 2 cup sizes and several inches! Now I'm back to my pre-pregnancy size :-( Did that initial pumping hurt my milk supply? We did exclusive breast feeding for 7 weeks. The week of Christmas, Cole ate for over an hour then drifted to sleep. I went to fix lunch for Carli and I and less than 30 minutes later, he was screaming like he was starving. Oh how the tears flowed from he, Carli, and I! I called my husband, the lactation center, our pediatrician, our Bradley birth instructor, and our doula and got LOTS of different suggestions. Our scale at home said he had only gained 1 pound in 7 weeks. I hoped that was wrong, but knew it weighed Carli correctly… we headed to our pediatrician for a weight check. I started supplementing bottles after breastfeedings after much prayer and tears. He would drink the 2 ounce bottles like they were nothing then be content for 3-4 hours!  I was able to spend time with Carli, get some rest, and Curt could feed Cole! As much as I wanted to exclusively breastfeed, bottle feeding seemed to be best at the time. Cole gained 2 pounds over the next 2 weeks. (3 weeks later, he has gone from 7 pounds to 10.5!) We are all happier now (Cole, Carli, Curt, and I)!

I believe God has a reason for everything and I just thawed out some of the milk from those 1st 2 weeks of my pumping an hour ago to give Cole in his next bottle (I've been too emotional and busy with newby, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and settling in the new year to read about how I was supposed to thaw it properly... no memory anymore!) I still have a lot of guilt / failure issues to work thru… I feel like something is wrong with ME, but know God created me the way he did for a reason. I have 2 happy, healthy babies and a wonderfully supportive husband; what more could I ask for!! I know it is just Satan and could use each of your prayers!!! I feel like Carli was so hurt / neglected by me from 10/1 thru the week of Christmas b/c of bed rest then my focus on Cole and breast feeding! She seems fine, it is just another issue I need to keep praying about!

Sorry for the rambling, Cole just drifted back to sleep in his swing, so I'm going to turn it off and go to bed.

You can read both of their birth stories on our blog: www.cmbadura.blogspot.com ... please leave comments / questions! :-)

Mariah

Curt, Mariah, & Carli Badura said...

Oh, on our blog, www.cmbadura.blogspot.com, search for "birth story" to read their stories then search for "knot" to see the knot that Carli and Cole each had in their umbilical cords! An 1 in 1000 odd for 1 birth and 1 in a million for a 2nd birth!!! Isn't God awesome!!!

Mariah

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