Fenugreek is used for many different reasons such as inflammation, a dressing for wounds, eczema and of course for breastfeeding. The widespread popularity of fenugreek for breastfeeding has been a bit controversial because there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support the use of fenugreek for any health condition. However, India’s traditional methods that have been used for centuries have positively impacted mothers nationwide who struggle with milk production.
What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek is a white-flowered herbaceous plant of the pea family. Its aromatic seeds are commonly used for flavoring seasonings such as curry. Fenugreek seeds have a taste similar to maple syrup or burnt sugar and are usually dried and grounded into a fine powder. Fun fact: Fenugreek extract can also be found in your favorite cosmetics too!
Fenugreek For Breastfeeding
Fenugreek Benefits of Breastfeeding
Fenugreek acts as a galactagogue to increase milk supply. Galactagogue is a substance that promotes lactation in humans. According to kellymom.com, mothers generally notice an increase in milk production 24-72 hours after starting the herb, but it can take two weeks for others to see a change. Also, it’s important to know that not all mothers notice a difference after continuous use of fenugreek. If you are not lucky with the herb, there are always other alternatives to try to increase milk production. You can contact your doctor to learn about different ways.
How to Use Fenugreek for Breastfeeding
Fenugreek is versatile and can be digested in many different ways depending on your preference. Please be sure to check with a lactation consultant and your medical provider for information catered to your specific needs. You can take the herb in the following methods:
- Fenugreek Pills (580-610mg): 2-4 capsules, 3 times a day
- Fenugreek Tea: one cup of tea, 2-3 times a day (steep tea for at least 15 minutes)
- Fenugreek Powder or seeds: 1/2 – 1 teaspoon, 3 times per day can be mixed with a little water or juice
- Tincture: 1-2 mL, three times per day (depending on package instructions)
Side Effects for Baby
If you plan on taking fenugreek one side effect your baby might deal with is digestive problems like excess gas and green, loose, frequent stools. Aside from looser stools, you can benefit from the herb without doing any harm to your nursing baby. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the herb on its “Generally Recognized As Safe” list.
Side Effect for Moms
- May be unsafe for some women. Fenugreek is dangerous for women with hormone-sensitive cancers due to fenugreek mimicking estrogen in the body.
- It may cause diarrhea and perspiration. If you’re seeing an increase in milk supply while taking fenugreek, you’ll notice an increase in sweat production as well. Looser stools are also a side effect of taking the herb. If you have any digestive complications such as IBS, fenugreek may do more harm than good.
- You may smell changes. You will notice a “maple-like” smell in urine and breastmilk if you are taking fenugreek.
- Worsening of asthma & allergies. In addition to asthma, if you have allergies to peanuts or garbanzo beans, it is advised for you to stay away from fenugreek. Fenugreek is related to these particular foods, and you may experience a similar allergic reaction while taking the herb.
- Diabetes or hypoglycemia. Fenugreek can impact insulin and blood sugar and reduces blood glucose levels. It may also lower blood cholesterol. If you do decide to take fenugreek, please use with caution.
Fenugreek should not be used whatsoever during pregnancy because it can affect uterine contractions. Lastly, it is not advised to replace any conventional medicine for ongoing health problems without consulting your doctor first.
Keep in mind that moderation is better than taking too much when it comes to herbs. Overall, the advantages of fenugreek for breastfeeding are to boost your supply not to maintain it. If you do see results, it’s essential for you to manage your milk flow by pumping regularly. Remember, fenugreek supplements are only meant to be taken postnatal. If you’re concerned about your lactation, speak to your doctor or a lactation specialist to ask about how to get started on fenugreek.