One of the key reasons women cease breastfeeding is low supply, but did you know there are ways of boosting your milk? Mel Hearse introduces you to galactagogues - foods, herbs or medications that can help to increase breast milk supply.
Low milk supply can be caused by many factors – some easy to fix and others requiring the support of a lactation consultant. Rest, an adequate diet and plenty of frequent breastfeeds can all help you boost your supply, though some medical conditions may need specialised support, such as diabetes and thyroid problems, or insufficient glandular tissue (breast hypoplasia).
Lactation consultant Pinky McKay says the first step in boosting supply is to diagnose the issue, and a lactation consultant can help you with this.
As well as taking galactagogues, McKay and the ABA advise they work best with regular feeding. Ensure your breasts are drained after feeds, offer the breast at every subtle signal, get as much rest as you can, drink according to your thirst and eat nutritious foods and snacks.
“If you are not eating enough food, or your diet is of a poor quality, addressing it can go a long way with boosting supply, ” says McKay.
What are galactagogues?
Galactagogues work best for women with low prolactin levels, and should be used with caution – therapeutic levels of them, including herbal remedies, can affect other areas of your health and wellbeing, so should only be used in consultation with your doctor.
As well as taking lactation supplements, you’ll need to work on boosting supply by giving regular feeds to promote milk production, and consuming a healthy diet with plenty of water to drink.
There are a number of medications that can be prescribed, most of which work to increase levels of prolactin – a woman’s main breast milk-producing hormone.
Domperidone is a prescription drug used to treat gastrointestinal disorders, and a number of quality scientific studies have shown that it appears to work well to boost supply. While the research says domperidone has few side effects, it is not recommended for use by women with a history of cardiac problems. McKay says it should only be used under medical supervision and you should advise your specialists of any other medications you are taking, as well as any existing health complications or conditions.