Fenugreek And Breastfeeding: What’s The Relationship?
Breastfeeding is a way to nourish and bond with your baby. But some mothers are concerned that they are not producing enough milk to satisfy their little ones. When that happens, those mothers are often willing to do anything to solve the issue. One of the most common remedies is fenugreek breastfeeding capsules.
How Does Fenugreek Help Increase Breast Milk?
Fenugreek is an herbal galactagogue, meaning that it is a substance that can support breast milk production. Some women who ingest fenugreek seed for breastfeeding report fantastic improvements. However, there is limited scientific consensus surrounding fenugreek seed for breastfeeding.
Many galactagogues work by promoting the production of prolactin in a woman's body. Prolactin is a hormone that makes it easier for a woman to make breastmilk. Since ancient times women have used fenugreek for this purpose. In recent years, there has been more scientific evidence supporting the practice.
Should You Be Taking Fenugreek For Breastfeeding?
If you are struggling to produce enough breast milk for your infant, fenugreek is an option for you. Taking fenugreek pills, or herbal teas or drinks, for breastfeeding is often most effective in the early postpartum stages. But it is also possible to start taking fenugreek for milk production too early.
If you hope to use fenugreek for milk supply increases, it is best for you to wait at least five days after delivery to do so. At times it can take multiple days for a woman's breast milk to come in. But if that delay lasts longer than a few days, you may want to consider a milk-production aid such as fenugreek. Consulting a lactation expert is also a good course of action.
Benefits Of Taking Fenugreek To Increase Milk Supply
The primary benefit that most women seek is to use fenugreek to increase breast milk. At times, this supplement can cause some impressive improvements to milk production. To achieve this, there are several factors at play that make fenugreek effective.
As we mentioned earlier, taking fenugreek seeds for breast milk helps increase prolactin in your body. It may also help to stimulate your sweat glands.
At first, it may seem that sweat gland stimulation would not help you with breastfeeding, but that is far from the truth. Mammary glands are a specialized version of sweat glands. So when you take a substance that stimulates sweat glands, it may stimulate your mammary glands as well.
Some claim that there are limited proven benefits of fenugreek for breast milk. But the long history of women using this herb suggests otherwise. At the very least, taking fenugreek in the form of tea or drink mix can help with hydration levels. Better hydration makes it easier to produce milk for your baby. Along with this, there are a few other benefits unrelated to breastfeeding.
Non-Breastfeeding Benefits of Fenugreek
Beyond breastfeeding, there are a few benefits of fenugreek that we should mention. In some cases, the evidence for these benefits is even stronger than that which exists in support of improved breastmilk supply. Here are a few of the advantages that fenugreek could give you:
- Regulation of blood sugar levels
- Increased testosterone for men
- Lower cholesterol
- Reduced inflammation
Each of those benefits makes fenugreek worth exploring as a health supplement. But in keeping with the theme of this article, let's proceed to discuss how to take fenugreek for breastfeeding mothers.
Fenugreek For Breastfeeding Dosage
Now that you know some of the potential benefits of fenugreek, it is time to learn how to take this supplement if you feel you need it. Along with knowing when and how you take fenugreek, it is also important to know how much you should take.
How Much Fenugreek Do You Need to Increase Milk Supply?
Your fenugreek dosage for breastfeeding will depend on the method by which you intend to take this herb. Generally, there are two popular methods for ingesting fenugreek:
- Fenugreek tea
- Fenugreek capsules
Fenugreek tea is very easy to make and has a subtle bitter-sweet flavor. If tea is your favorite way to tailor your fenugreek for lactation dose, all you need to do is steep one teaspoon of these seeds. Steep them for around 15 minutes, then enjoy that drink up to three times each day. If you are not a tea lover, there are also flavored fenugreek drink mixes you may want to try.
If you want faster results, a fenugreek capsule may be your best bet. These fast-acting pills are easy to find and often hold around 600 milligrams each. Taking these up to three times a day can give you great results.
While fenugreek tea and fenugreek capsules are some of the most common varieties, there are many forms of fenugreek you can buy. Read on to learn more about these many fenugreek options.
Different Forms of Fenugreek
Since fenugreek is a naturally occurring substance, people have found many ways to alter it into an edible form. These experiments have led to a plethora of options for you as a fenugreek consumer. Here are some of the fenugreek forms you might find in your local store:
- Whole fenugreek seeds
- Fenugreek oil
- Fenugreek leaves
- Fenugreek powder
The option you choose is a matter of personal preference. With some of those products, you have the option to make your fenugreek a bit tastier. For instance, you can try baking your fenugreek into cookies or cakes. This can make your fenugreek dose a bit more enjoyable, especially if you find you don't like the taste of fenugreek tea.
How Long Does It Take For Fenugreek To Work?
By now, you are likely wondering how long it will take for fenugreek to work. While there are differences in effectiveness for each individual, there are some general expectations you can hold while waiting for fenugreek to work.
How Long Does it Take for Fenugreek to Increase Breast Milk?
Most people want to get fast results from their fenugreek. In that case, capsules are the best option. These fenugreek capsules give the fastest results for breastfeeding mothers. Often it can take just one to three days for a woman to notice the effect of the fenugreek pills.
In other cases, it can take longer. That extended length can arise from a woman's unique biological reaction to the herb. It can also come from the manner in which you take your fenugreek. As noted above, methods like fenugreek tea can take longer to work. Still, if your fenugreek is not effective after two weeks, you may need to seek another remedy.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Taking Fenugreek For Lactation?
As with any remedy, some are hesitant to take fenugreek for fear that there may be some unwanted side effects. Mothers are especially wary that there may be fenugreek side effects on babies. But that does not mean that this herbal remedy is completely harmless. Instead, there are a few instances where fenugreek can cause some unwanted outcomes. Nonetheless, for those who fenugreek might not be a fit, there are also fenugreek-free breastfeeding supplements available.
General Fenugreek Side Effects
Negative side effects are more common among those who have taken fenugreek for a prolonged period. Side effects may include:
Remember that those symptoms are somewhat rare and typically arise after taking excessive amounts of fenugreek. But along with those symptoms, fenugreek can also cause some issues with those who are sensitive to allergic reactions.
Allergic Reactions to Fenugreek
As with any substance, it is possible that someone could have an allergic reaction to fenugreek. In rare occasions, individuals allergic to peanuts or other legumes may experience allergic/asthma symptoms due to fenugreek. In those cases, a person may feel these issues after taking fenugreek:
Again, the odds of an allergic reaction to fenugreek are low. But you should know about them in case they come up after you start taking this supplement.
Fenugreek and Pre-Existing Conditions
Along with producing general side effects and allergic reactions, taking fenugreek can also cause an issue if you have certain pre-existing health conditions.
Most notably, if you have a hormone-related cancer, you should not take fenugreek. There is also some research that suggests those with hormonal imbalances related to thyroid issues should not take fenugreek.
Mixing Fenugreek with other Medications
It is always best to be extremely cautious when mixing multiple treatments and remedies. This is as true for fenugreek as any other supplement you can take. As always, consulting your doctor is the only way to ensure that you are taking fenugreek safely.
There are some blood thinner medications with which fenugreek does not mix well. Also, you should be cautious about mixing fenugreek with other herbal remedies. Considering there is no FDA approval for fenugreek, it is difficult to determine how it will mix with other supplements you take.
Still, the majority of people who take fenugreek do not experience such debilitating results instead. There is another side effect of fenugreek that is odd but benign.
The Maple Syrup Smell
Many people report that taking fenugreek can alter your body odor. Often, this includes a maple syrup scent for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. This scent is somewhat strange but is not overwhelming. The presence of this smell can be a sign that the fenugreek is taking effect in your body.
The maple syrup smell that fenugreek has is an indication of one of the original uses for this herb. In Indian cuisine, fenugreek is a common spice in some recipes. That quality opens the door for some experimentation in the kitchen if you are taking fenugreek for lactation.
The fact that fenugreek has a maple scent means that adding maple syrup can be a good way to make tasty fenugreek baked goods. Adding maple syrup can enhance the natural flavors in the fenugreek herb.
Don't Take Fenugreek if You Are Pregnant
Lastly, women who are pregnant should not take fenugreek. This is true even if they are breastfeeding as well. The reason pregnant women should avoid fenugreek is that it can cause contractions. This well-known effect is what has led people to use fenugreek as a means to induce labor.
Key Takeaways About Fenugreek For Breast Milk
Fenugreek is an herb and not a proven medical treatment that the FDA recognizes. But that does not mean that it has no effect on breast milk production. The many centuries of women using this herb seem to indicate that it is effective.
It appears that taking fenugreek in the early stages after birth may help women feed their newborns. As more studies on the topic emerge, this outcome seems to be increasingly prevalent.
But while fenugreek works for some, it is not ideal for everyone. When you ingest this substance in excess, you can experience some discomfort. Likewise, some conditions may preclude you from taking fenugreek supplements.
However, for many women, fenugreek seems to be useful in promoting breast milk production. Whether you take it in tea or in a capsule, fenugreek may help boost your milk supply in a few short days.
Where Can I Buy Fenugreek For Breastfeeding?
If you are convinced that fenugreek is the way to improve your breastfeeding experience, consider consulting your doctor. Talking to a medical professional or lactation expert is the best way to know if fenugreek is right for you.
If so, there are plenty of ways that you can find this herb. Since it is not an official medical treatment, you don't need a prescription to get fenugreek. You can buy fenugreek in its many forms from your local pharmacy. You can also find plenty of fenugreek products from online vendors.
Regardless of how you buy your fenugreek, it may prove to be the best decision you make. After all, feeding your baby is your top priority. Anything that helps you do that could be worth the effort.