Your body has just completed the amazing journey of bearing and giving birth to your child. And now, your body continues its job by providing your baby with nourishing breast milk. For support during this often challenging but rewarding phase, turn to lactation supplements.*
In this article, we’ll discuss four of our favorite herbs for maintaining a healthy milk supply and share how you can easily take them in supplement form.*
But before we get to these herbs, let’s do a quick review of everything your body has been up to so you’ll know how to best care for it at this stage.
You, Your Body, and Milk Supply
A woman’s body is beautiful, powerful, and resourceful. After bearing and birthing your child, your body is ready to make breast milk so that you can feed your baby day in and day out. This is no small feat, and it doesn’t happen all at once.
In fact, early in your pregnancy, your breasts began the preparations to nurse, and by the time your third trimester rolled around, they were ready to breastfeed your baby. 1
Now that your baby has arrived, hormones kick in to start milk production, which continues on a supply-and-demand basis. 1
We say this to remind you that your body has undergone a lot and is still doing amazing work! This is a time to respect it and all it is doing, and to have compassion for it if things don’t go quite as you had hoped.
That being said, if you have concerns that you aren’t producing enough milk or that your baby isn’t eating enough, check in with a lactation consultant or your pediatrician.
They can help you make sure your baby is latching on correctly and offer other tips to encourage your body to keep producing milk. It’s also a good idea to talk with them or with your naturopathic physician if you’re thinking of taking lactation supplements or herbs.
Philippa Pearson-Glaze, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, says, “If your milk supply is still not increasing despite good positioning and attachment, plenty of skin-to-skin contact, breast compressions, frequent breastfeeds, or regular pumping, you may wonder whether to try a galactagogue.” 2
A galactagogue is simply a food or herb (or medication) that is used to encourage breast milk production. 2 Herbal galactagogues are exactly what we’ll discuss now.
4 Lactation Herbs to Support Milk Supply*
Kristi Gulledge, RN, MSN, a board-certified lactation consultant at UAB Medicine, notes that breastfeeding moms often turn to galactagogue foods like oatmeal, quinoa, and atole to help with breast milk production.* 3
When it comes to herbs, she cites Fenugreek and Goat’s Rue as a couple of examples that moms have successfully used.* 3
You may eat oatmeal in lactation cookies and quinoa in your favorite dinner dish. But you might not be as familiar with herbs like Fenugreek, Goat’s Rue, Nettle, and Fennel. We’ll discuss these four lactation herbs and how to take them in the form of supplements.*
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), a member of the Leguminosae family and similar to clover, is native to the Mediterranean, southern Europe, and western Asia. 4
In addition to being highly nutritious, Fenugreek is used as a spice and as an herb for digestive support, heart health, and blood sugar support, which is why you’ll find it in our Glycemic Health and Microbiome Food formulas.* 5,6
Additionally, it acts as a galactagogue, which is what we are most interested in.* 5
Goat’s Rue (Galega officinalis) is a small flowering plant that grows in the Eastern United States.7 It has been put to use since the early 1900s, when it was found to aid milk production in cows.* 5
Today, it’s still turned to as a galactagogue herb but is also used by naturopathic physicians for blood sugar support.* 6
Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a prickly, stinging plant that won’t be your friend if you rub up against it while on a walk! However, it’s nutritious and loses its sting when cooked. Nettle is native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America.
This flowering plant is a multifaceted herb and used in an array of Gaia Herbs products for everything from Energy Support to Immune Support, Foundational Support, Men’s Health, and Beauty & Radiance Support.*
Erika Krumbeck, ND, says, “Nettles are truly an amazing herb… Best of all—they also stimulate milk production. (Maybe simply because they are so nutritious!)”* 6
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) can be found in many parts of the world, though it is indigenous to the Mediterranean. With feathery leaves, this plant was historically eaten by humans and fed to goats to boost their milk supply.
You may use this herb as a spice in your own kitchen, but it’s also a traditional herb. Fennel, a phytoestrogen, is now used as a galactagogue and for digestive support (find it in Gas & Bloating) as well as other health concerns.* 6
Lactation Supplements and Herbs
We wanted to introduce you to these four herbs so you can get acquainted with a few of the many natural galactagogues that nursing mothers turn to.*
But now, without further ado, we’ll share three lactation supplements that you can use to support your milk supply.*
They’re made with the four herbs we mentioned above (among others), and you can rest assured that these supplements are purity-tested and made with breastfeeding women in mind.
Lactation Support Capsules*
To provide your hardworking, breastfeeding body with extra nourishment, turn to Gaia Herbs Lactation Support capsules.*
The capsule format of this supplement provides a convenient and easy way for nursing mothers to get needed herbal support at home or on the go.* Simply take one capsule three times daily between meals.
At Gaia Herbs, we are firm believers that the quality of an herbal supplement can only be as good as the quality of the herbs that go into it. That’s why many of the herbs in our products are grown on our farm, where we can cultivate them exactly the way we want.
For plants used in our supplements that we cannot grow on our farm or in the quantity that we need, our network of organic and sustainable communities allows us to source herbs from where they grow best and where conditions are ideal to produce the highest possible level of botanical compounds.
To learn more about the herbs in your supplements and where they come from, visit meetyourherbs.com, the world’s first herb traceability platform. Here, you will discover the origin of your herbs; learn how they were grown, harvested, and extracted; and see validation of your product’s purity and potency.
Fenugreek Seed Capsules
If you prefer to take pure Fenugreek as a lactation supplement, opt for Gaia Herbs Fenugreek Seed.
Made with organic and vegan Fenugreek seeds, this formula helps support healthy breast milk production.*
For ease of use, this herbal supplement comes in Liquid Phyto-Caps®. These unique capsules are 100% vegetarian, tested to be free of heavy metals, pesticides, and microbes—and contain no animal by-products (including gelatin). They offer a liquid extract in the convenience of a capsule.
To put Fenugreek Seed capsules to work for your body, take two to three twice daily between meals.
Lactation Support Herbal Tea*
Lastly, we want to mention Gaia Herbs Lactation Support Herbal Tea.* This herbal tea is not only full of lactation-supportive herbs, but it’s also a delicious, soothing way to help you consume the extra water you need while nursing your baby.*
To support healthy production of breast milk, this tea includes the organic herbs Goat’s Rue, Fenugreek, Marshmallow, and Nettle.* Fennel and Lemon Balm are also included and provide a subtly sweet, aromatic flavor that makes this tea satisfying and delightful.
Rest assured that Lactation Support Herbal Tea is Certified Organic, purity-tested, and free of common allergens like dairy, gluten, and soy.*
To enjoy a warm cup of tea, pour one cup of freshly boiled water over a tea bag. Cover and steep for 10 minutes, then enjoy a relaxing, mindful moment as you sip.
You can drink this tea daily as needed and, for added support, combine it with Lactation Support Liquid Phyto-Caps.*
Lactation Supplements to Support Your Body*
Remember that your body has nourished, birthed, and is now breastfeeding your little one. This incredible feat is accomplished regularly by many women around the world, but that makes it no less impressive.
To support your body on this journey and when you are seeking to encourage milk supply with lactation supplements, turn to the galactagogue herbs we listed in this article.*
After talking with your doctor, provide for your body with Fenugreek, Goat’s Rue, Nettle, Fennel, and other herbs through Gaia Herbs Lactation Support capsules, Fenugreek Seed capsules, or Lactation Support Herbal Tea.*
And don’t forget to have compassion for your beautiful, strong body throughout the whole process!
REFERENCES:1. Sara Novak, What to Expect, November 4, 2020, https://www.whattoexpect.com/poor-milk-supply-breastfeeding.aspx.
2. Philippa Pearson-Glaze, Breastfeeding Support, February 5, 2020, https://breastfeeding.support/what-is-a-galactagogue.
3. UAB Medicine News, UAB Medicine, accessed on June 17, 2021, https://www.uabmedicine.org/-/pump-it-up-6-tips-for-increasing-breast-milk-production.
4. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, August 2020, https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/fenugreek.
5. Antonio Alberto Zuppa et al., J Pharm Pharmaceut Sci 13, 2 (2010): 162-174, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20816003.
6. Erika Krumbeck, Naturopathic Pediatrics, July 5, 2015, https://naturopathicpediatrics.com/2015/07/15/herbs-to-increase-milk-supply-a-guide-to-galactagogues.
7. Larry Stritch, U.S. Forest Service, accessed on June 17, 2021, https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/tephrosia_virginiana.shtml.