When your newborn arrives and you begin your breastfeeding relationship, a lot of concerns and questions arise including:
- Am I producing enough milk? Or is my baby getting enough breast milk?
- Am I eating healthy enough?
- Do I need to supplement with vitamins and minerals?
In most cases, you usually are producing enough breast milk, but there are supplements for breastfeeding available to help you feel more at ease or to help boost your supply if there are issues. It is also important to keep in mind that if you are eating a well-balanced diet with fruits and vegetables, vitamins and supplements for breastfeeding are not needed.
You begin taking a prenatal vitamin when you are pregnant, but it is highly recommended that you continue taking your prenatal vitamin as a supplement when breastfeeding. Even though we all strive to eat a balanced diet, becoming a new mother can be exhausting and eating healthy all the time does not always happen. Continuing to take a prenatal vitamin is a great way to ensure you are still receiving some important vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin D is also a hot topic and supplement that comes up for breastfeeding women and their new babies. Making sure your new baby has enough Vitamin D is extremely important. Your healthcare provider may recommend that either you take a Vitamin D supplement, or give an oral liquid Vitamin D to your baby. As a new mother, taking Vitamin D for yourself will help you feel better, but your baby may not receive all of that Vitamin D through your breast milk. It is recommended to not take more than 10,000 IU/day as a breastfeeding mother.
When researching supplements for breastfeeding, common supplements that will appear are galactagogues. Galactagogues are substances that are herbal, medicinal, food, etc. that help promote the increase of milk production in breastfeeding women. Although galactagogues have not been scientifically proven to increase milk production, generations and generations of breastfeeding women have passed down this knowledge and strongly believe that these supplements helped their supplies.
A lot of breastfeeding women cook and include galactagogues food in their diets to help ensure a steady milk supply. It is also common to use these foods to create lactation cookies. These foods include:
- Whole grains, such as organic rolled oats
- Dark leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach & broccoli
- Brewer’s yeast
- Spices, such as fennel seeds, turmeric, and cumin seeds
Herbal galactagogues include:
Fenugreek is generally viewed as safe for nursing mothers and seems to be the most effective supplement for breastfeeding. When taking Fenugreek it is recommended to take 2-3 capsules three times a day. Although Fenugreek is fairly safe, if taken in large doses it can drop your sugar levels. Fenugreek should be avoided by mothers who are pregnant, as it may cause uterine contractions. Breastfeeding women who decided to take Fenugreek should see results in about 3 days.
If you are taking Fenugreek as a supplement while breastfeeding, it is recommended to also take Blessed Thistle to receive the greatest benefits. Just like Fenugreek, if you are looking for an increase in milk production you should see results quickly, within a few days. As with any supplement when breastfeeding, make sure you consult your doctor and/or lactation consultant.
If using natural forms of galactagogues is not helping some breastfeeding women may turn to their healthcare provider and/or lactation consultant to be prescribed a galactagogue medication. These medications include:
Another common and more popular supplement for breastfeeding is placenta encapsulation. After you give birth, your placenta is saved and encapsulated for consumption. There are several known benefits to consuming your placenta after birth, including increased milk supply. Not only does it help with increased milk supply, but also lowers your chances of postpartum depression.
Taking supplements while breastfeeding is great, but you should always make sure you are eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, staying active, and getting enough sleep. Sometimes breastfeeding women do need some assistance with supply or supplementing. Always make sure to talk to your healthcare provider and/or lactation consultant before taking large doses of herbs and/or medications.