You should only use fenugreek for lactation support under the guidance of a lactation consultant or a medical doctor. Although there are no known health risks for taking this herb, you may have other problems with milk supply that you aren’t aware of, so to get the best results be sure you are treating the correct condition. Once you have approval to begin supplementing with fenugreek, take the recommended dosage and then increase it from there until it’s effective.
The use of fenugreek dates back hundreds of years. It is used as a galactogogue, which is a substance that helps stimulate prolactin production within the body. Prolactin is the hormone which triggers a woman’s breasts to make milk. Normally, an infant’s suckling alone is enough to trigger this response, but those who have low prolactin may need additional supplementation.
In a study of women it was found that nearly all breastfeeding mothers noted an increase in milk supply when taking fenugreek for lactation. Most women find that milk production increases within a few days, although for some this can take longer. Between six and 12 capsules are generally needed per day in order for this herb to work correctly. That is a maximum dosage of about 3000 mg.
Using fenugreek for lactation has not shown to be harmful for mothers or infants, but if you still do not get the results you desire, you may have an underlying health condition. Thyroid disease and other hormonal problems can all hinder breastfeeding success. If you have any other symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, you should consult your doctor for necessary tests.
You can use additional herbs and supplements when taking fenugreek for lactation. These can include hops, milk thistle, and alfalfa. Some commercial brands offer premixed combinations of these herbs. Speak with your doctor before taking any drugs or dietary supplements.
Occasionally a woman simply cannot produce enough milk to feed her baby, even with the support of fenugreek for lactation. If you did not engorge when your milk came in, had few or no changes in your breasts during pregnancy, have large areolas, and produce milk in lumps or patches, you may have insufficient glandular tissue. The symptoms generally occur in combination with certain physical traits, so speak with a lactation consultant for a firm diagnosis.
Some women never have glandular production during pregnancy, either because their breasts are not fully developed or due to hormonal complications. In these cases, there is simply not enough room to store milk. This is rare, although it is estimated that 4,000 women per year who give birth will have insufficient glandular tissue.