Breastfeeding is widely recognized as the optimal way to provide nutrition to infants. Breast milk contains all the nutrients a baby needs to grow and develop during the first six months of life. It is easily digestible and provides the right balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
A good diet is essential during breastfeeding because it can help ensure a mother can produce enough high-quality milk to meet her baby's nutritional needs. Exposure to various flavors and nutrients through breast milk may help infants develop a diverse palate and reduce their risk of developing food allergies later in life.
There are many lactation supplements specifically designed to support breastfeeding mothers. These supplements are made from natural ingredients, such as herbs, vitamins, and minerals, that support milk production and supply.
What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek, or Methi, is a herb commonly used in Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African cuisine. It's an annual plant belonging to the Fabaceae family and is native to the Mediterranean region and Western Asia.
The fenugreek seeds and leaves are edible and have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. The seeds are used as a spice in cooking, and the leaves as fresh or dried herbs.
Fenugreek is also used for medicinal purposes. It has been used traditionally to increase milk production in breastfeeding mothers, lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, and promote digestive health. Additionally, fenugreek is sometimes used as a dietary supplement to increase testosterone levels and improve exercise performance.
Why is Fenugreek in Lactation Support Supplements?
Fenugreek is believed to increase milk production in breastfeeding mothers due to its high content of phytoestrogens and galactagogues. Galactagogues are substances that promote lactation, and phytoestrogens are plant compounds with estrogen-like effects on the body.
Fenugreek seeds contain a compound called diosgenin, which is structurally similar to estrogen and has been shown to stimulate milk production in lactating women. In addition, fenugreek seeds are rich in polysaccharides and saponins, which are believed to further enhance milk production by increasing prolactin levels in the body.
The Bitter Truth About Fenugreek
Although fenugreek is considered safe for most people when taken in recommended amounts, some women, including nursing mothers, may experience adverse side effects when using fenugreek to support lactation.
Here are potential risks and drawbacks associated with fenugreek that people should be aware of:
- Fenugreek can cause increased sensitivity in some people, particularly those allergic to peanuts or chickpeas. Symptoms can include hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis.
- Fenugreek can interact with certain medications, including blood-thinning medications, diabetes medications, and medications affecting thyroid function.
- Fenugreek is known to lower blood sugar levels, which can benefit people with diabetes. However, it can also cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), especially when combined with other diabetes medications.
- Fenugreek has a strong, bitter taste and a pungent, unpleasant odor. Some people may find it difficult to tolerate, especially when used in large amounts.
- Fenugreek can cause gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, bloating, and gas. These symptoms are usually mild and go away on their own, but some people may experience more severe digestive issues.
Finally, while fenugreek has traditionally been used to stimulate milk production in breastfeeding women, research on its effectiveness is limited and conflicting. Some studies suggest fenugreek may increase milk production, while others have found no significant effect.
5 Ways to Get Fenugreek Benefits Without Taking the Herb
As a nursing mother, there are several ways to get the benefits of fenugreek to increase milk production without taking the herb itself. Here are some alternatives:
1. Breastfeed or Pump Frequently
Pumping or breastfeeding frequently stimulates the production of prolactin, a hormone responsible for breast milk production. When a baby breastfeeds or a mother pumps, nerve receptors in the nipple send a signal to the brain to release prolactin.
Additionally, frequent milk removal helps signal to the body more milk is needed, encouraging the breast to produce more milk. This is why pumping or breastfeeding regularly, such as every 2-3 hours, can effectively increase milk supply.
However, while frequent milk removal is a critical factor in milk production, it is not the only factor. A mother's overall health, nutrition, and hydration affect milk production. Therefore, breastfeeding mothers should care for themselves and maintain a healthy lifestyle to ensure an adequate milk supply.
2. Eat Foods Promoting Milk Production
Eating foods that promote milk production can help stimulate milk production in several ways. These foods contain nutrients important for breastfeeding mothers as they have properties that can encourage milk supply.
For example, foods high in protein, such as nuts, seeds, and legumes, provide the building blocks the body needs to make milk. Calcium-rich foods like dairy products or fortified plant milks can also support milk production.
Additionally, some foods, such as oats, barley, and fennel, contain compounds that can stimulate milk production. Oats are high in iron, which can help support milk production, while barley is rich in beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that may promote milk supply.
Fennel contains phytoestrogens, plant compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and may help to increase milk production. It's also vital to stay hydrated and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can negatively impact milk production.
3. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Drinking fluids is essential for milk production because breast milk is mainly made up of water. When a breastfeeding mother is dehydrated, her body may struggle to produce enough milk because there is not enough water available to create the milk.
Drinking fluids such as water, herbal teas, and coconut water can help keep a breastfeeding mother hydrated. It's recommended that breastfeeding mothers aim to drink at least 8-10 cups of fluids per day or more if they feel thirsty.
In addition to helping with milk production, staying hydrated can have other benefits for breastfeeding mothers, such as improving overall health and energy levels.
4. Resting and Managing Stress
Resting and managing stress can help increase breast milk production by reducing the production of cortisol, a hormone that can inhibit milk production. Stress and fatigue can also affect a mother's let-down reflex, making it more challenging to release milk during breastfeeding or pumping sessions.
Therefore, breastfeeding mothers should get plenty of rest and practice stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. These stress management techniques can help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation, which can support milk production.
In addition to rest and stress management, nursing mothers should have a support system in place. It may include partners, family members, or friends who can offer assistance with household tasks or caring for the baby, allowing the mother to get the rest she needs.
5. Take Fenugreek-Free Supplements
Fenugreek-free supplements can help support milk production in various ways, depending on the specific ingredients included in the supplement. One example of a fenugreek-free supplement is the Binto Milkmaid gummies.
Binto Milkmaid gummies contain a blend of herbs, vitamins, and minerals believed to support milk production in breastfeeding mothers. Some of the key ingredients in these gummies include:
- Blessed thistle is a herb believed to stimulate milk production and increase milk flow.
- Fennel seed is a herb that may help to increase milk production and improve digestion.
- Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for bone health and may also play a role in breast milk production.
- Iron: A mineral that is important for red blood cell production and may also support milk production.
Binto Milkmaid gummies can help breastfeeding mothers but are not a substitute for a healthy diet, adequate rest, and regular breastfeeding or pumping. It's also important to talk to a healthcare provider before taking supplements, as they may interact with other medications or have side effects.
Revolutionize Your Health and Wellness Journey With Binto
Binto offers a range of personalized supplements, including supplements designed to support milk production in breastfeeding mothers. We also offer customized nutrition plans and consultations with registered dietitians, which can help breastfeeding mothers optimize their diet and nutrient intake to support milk production and overall health.
Our personalized Binto personalized quiz helps us tailor the supplements just for you. If you have specific questions about Binto's Milkmaid supplement or other products, book a telehealth to consult with a registered dietitian.