Breastfeeding can be such a tough topic for many reasons. Among them? Some women aren’t able to produce enough milk to satisfy their baby (through no fault of their own). Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to remedy the situation. First, you can always supplement or switch to formula — because no matter what, fed is always best. But if you feel like you’d rather try upping your supply using additional supplements, fenugreek could prove to be a big help. Using it for lactation is something some breastfeeding moms have found to be a reliable remedy.
Before talking about fenugreek, it’s important to know not to shame yourself or feel bad if breastfeeding isn’t going as planned. All women are different, and new moms often feel a lot of pressure to do things a certain way. It’s okay if it’s not working out. That said, many women with low milk supply do want to try anything and everything to make the most out of their nursing or pumping sessions. And if that’s the case for you, fenugreek for breastfeeding may be worth a try.
If you’re on the hunt for all things breastfeeding, look no further! Our pages on caffeine and breastfeeding, clogged milk ducts, breastfeeding positions, sore nipples, and baby rooting should give you a strong latch, er, grasp.
What is fenugreek?
There’s a good chance that you’ve never heard of it before. And that’s probably because fenugreek isn’t something you can find in a daily vitamin. Fenugreek is an herb that’s often been praised for its medicinal qualities. It’s also sometimes used in cooking, shampoos, and soap, proving how versatile it is. Using fenugreek for breastfeeding is a safe way to try to increase breast milk production, and it’s been scientifically proven to work. Of course, you should ask your obstetrician if you have any questions or health issues prior to using it.
What foods is fenugreek often used in?
Fenugreek is a popular herb to add to many European and Indian food dishes. If you eat curry, you’ve likely had it in your system before. Both its seeds and leaves are edible, and the herb itself tastes a little like maple syrup. Many dishes depend on fenugreek to give a subtle sweetness.
Where can you find fenugreek?
The good news is that you don’t have to look long and hard to find fenugreek. Most drug stores carry it in pill form, and you can also get it on Amazon. It comes in forms outside of capsules, though, in case you find pills hard to swallow (hello, pregnancy gag reflex!). Since fenugreek can also be used in recipes — or to make your own breastfeeding-friendly treats and snacks — you may be able to find fenugreek leaves in the produce aisle at your grocery store.
Which fenugreek supplement works best?
Based on the reviews, many breastfeeding moms on Amazon seem to like Whole Foods supplements, which are both kosher and vegan. But, any type you try should have some effect. If it happens to work, you can consider boosting your fenugreek intake in other ways, as well. Since fenugreek is used for other reasons aside from breastfeeding, many fans of the herb find it tasty to sprinkle fenugreek seeds on a salad. You can also grind fenugreek seeds to add flavor to meat. And some people prefer to eat raw fenugreek first thing in the morning to help aid with hunger and digestion.
Does fenugreek have any side effects?
Now, for the unfortunate part. Like all herbs and supplements, fenugreek may hit your system differently. Luckily, none of the side effects — which include diarrhea, flatulence, vomiting, maple syrup scented urine, and body odor — are that serious, but they still merit caution. In rare cases, people have also had an allergic reaction. If you’re sensitive to products like this, it’d be in your best interest to chat with your health care provider before adding it heavily to your routine.
Now, the good news: It’s generally very safe for breastfeeding moms, meaning that you don’t have to worry about passing it in your milk. Since breastfeeding moms know that many allergens can pass through milk, it’s always good to know whether something ingested will have any effect on your newborn.
How long does it take for fenugreek to increase milk supply?
Fenugreek capsules generally work faster than the tea. So taking about two to three, which is about 580 to 610 milligrams per capsule, you should see results in about 24 to 72 hours. Milk production may also boost after two weeks or, sadly, not at all. Fenugreek doesn’t work for everyone. You can also boil some water and treat the herb like tea. Place a tablespoon in your cup and drink this about two to three times a day if you want results.
What are some fenugreek substitutes?
If the side effects of fenugreek prove too much, there are plenty of other ways to increase your milk supply. Palm dates, fennel seeds, and blessed thistle are all proven to increase milk production. But apart from the foods and herbs that you can digest, it also helps to breastfeed frequently, pump between feeding, and practice feeding your baby from both breasts.
It doesn’t hurt to double-check that your baby’s breastfeeding position and latch are correct. A quick look at a photo online can help you fix your positioning. During feedings, try to get your baby to drink all the milk out of each breast and try not to time it. Just let your baby tell you when they’ve had enough. It also helps to stick to a schedule. Try feeding your baby every two to three hours.
You also want to avoid putting too much pressure on your chest. Sleeping on your stomach can put weight on your breasts, which can slow down your milk production. Also, eliminating formula or pacifier sucking while breastfeeding may also help. Make sure you drink tons of water and stay hydrated as well.
What are fenugreek capsules good for?
We know that fenugreek can boost your milk supply, but it has several other medicinal purposes. It can settle constipation, upset stomach, and gastritis and reactivate your loss of appetite. Fenugreek can also manage menstrual cramps, diabetes, obesity, and polycystic ovary syndrome. This herb prevents atherosclerosis, which is what causes your arteries to harden. It’s also a great way to get rid of heartburn because fenugreek is basically an antacid. It soothes chest pain and indigestion.
Here’s a snapshot of just how super fenugreek seeds are. One tablespoon packs a punch and contains about 35 calories. It has three grams of fiber, three grams of protein, six grams of carbs, one gram of fat, and iron.
Fenugreek keeps your cholesterol in check, and your kidneys aligned. It can also manage skin problems like mouth ulcers, boils, chapped lips, and baldness.
Fenugreek isn’t just for the ladies, either. Men can use it for erectile dysfunction, infertility, or hernia. It has amazing effects on your lungs and can treat bronchitis, tuberculosis, and coughing.
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