Galactagogues – A Boost to Breast Milk!

Breastfeeding is a natural and crucial part of motherhood. It provides essential nutrients to the baby and helps develop a strong bond between mother and child. The aim of feeding is to produce a contended, well-nourished baby and a relaxed, happy mother, a significant aspect of feeding is the atmosphere in which feeding takes place and the quality of the relationship between the parents and child

Breastfeeding is the best option for the child’s long-term and short-term health, however, at times the initiation and maintenance of Breast Feeding can be a challenging time – especially in the first six months. The new mother worries if the breast milk is enough and if her baby is satiated. A good diet and lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring adequate milk supply. If required, at these times galactagogues could be used too.

Are you wondering what galactagogues are?

Galactagogues are substances (foods or supplements) that can increase/stimulate milk supply in breastfeeding. These foods are known to support or promote milk production among nursing mothers and are known as lactogenic foods.
These types of foods play an essential role in providing a balanced diet for nursing mothers and their babies. Eating these foods can help ensure optimal nutrition for both mother and baby during breastfeeding.

But before we go ahead to explore galactagogues,

Let’s look at four prerequisites that need to be in place for an adequate milk supply.

  1. Eating a balanced diet: Remember what is in the milk cannot be more than what the mother eats. Eating a varied, healthy, nourishing, and robust diet is the key to maintaining the quality of milk. Only a balanced diet will ensure the right mix of nutrients for the baby through the mother’s milk.
  2. A balanced lifestyle is the other tool to ensure adequate supply. Enough sleep is paramount, and so is low stress. Anytime the stress increases and sleep decreases, the body changes its hormonal balance which could lead to reduced milk supply. Substances are to be avoided because whatever the mother consumes or is exposed to will be present in the mother’s milk.
  3. Adequate hydration: Breastmilk is more than 80 percent water. If the mother does not drink enough water, it will affect breast milk production. Water needs to be consumed before, during, and after a feeding session, in addition to regular consumption throughout the day.
  4. Feeding consistently and enough and on-demand: It’s very important to pay attention to the beautiful way that God has created the process flow of breast milk. The more the baby suckles, the more the production of milk and the let down of milk. So feed your baby with all the love that you feel and feed frequently with a relaxed mind. The milk will flow.

Lets now look at the variety of galactagogues that we can use to augment milk supply:

  1. Leafy Vegetables: Spinach, Methi greens and dill leaves (Shepu) can be incorporated on most days of the week thrice a week in salads and as side dishes, in parathas and chillas as well as pulaos.
  2. Seeds and nuts: Flaxseeds have numerous beneficial aspects and increasing breastmilk supply is another one of them. It can be roasted and incorporated into laddoos, porridges, salads, and main dishes or just simply as mukhwas. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistas too have a beneficial effect. Garden cress seeds in addition to being a powerhouse of iron can increase lactogenesis. It can be added to most dishes.
  3. Spices, herbs, and condiments:
    • Methi seeds, Jeera or cumin seeds as well as fennel or saunf have been known to increase breast milk production. They can be added to parathas and porridge. Jeera added to Daliya and Oats porridge is an interesting way to use this adjunct.
    • Ginger can be used in juice form or grated into dishes. Dried ginger used as a powder in dishes is also effective.
    • Garlic especially when roasted along with shallots with a small amount of ghee and served with rice is a powerful anti-inflammatory and lactogenic agent
  4. Cereals: Oats and quinoa with their specific phytonutrients can increase milk production
  5. Amla is a traditional food given to new lactating mothers. It can be added to salads, juiced into mixed juices as well as made into a chutney.
  6. Herbs: Shatavari is a powerful galactagogue. The supplement available taken twice with milk can help sustain and increase milk production.
  7. Gum Arabica or dink is served to new mothers in our traditional culture. Laddos being the most common form. It can increase breastmilk production
  8. Ghee can be incorporated into the daily diet in limited amounts for its effect on milk production.

Most traditional societies view food as part of their health strategy. Traditionally a number of preparations using food combinations that promote good health of the mother and baby are commonly consumed in our country.

The following are some of the dishes made in different parts of our country:

  • Dink Ladu, (Gum arabica ladoo), Haliv Ladu (Garden cress ladoo), Methi seeds Ladu, Kheer made of sprouted methi seeds with coconut milk, jaggery, and haldi leaf, Pola (Dosa) made of Moong-dal with Dill leaves, coconut, and jaggery- Maharashtra
  • Garlic and Shallots fried in ghee with black pepper had with red rice, Curd Kadhi with garlic, shallots and curry leaves- South India
  • Pinni with dry fruits and Dry ginger, Badam ka seera, Makhana kheer, Raab with bajra, ghee, and dry fruits- North- India, Gujrat
  • Dhuska, Mishti pulav, Santula, Thenthuk soup Sattu- Eastern India

Women have always had traditional foods for reproduction, and especially for milk production

When should a galactagogue be recommended?

When the lactating mother is facing difficulty expressing milk, despite trying all positioning, and compression techniques. Galactagogues become an invaluable tool for these breastfeeding mothers struggling to produce enough milk for their babies. When it comes to recommending a galactagogue, it’s important to consider the individual needs of the mother.

The individual needs to be considered:

  1. Different types of galactagogues may be more beneficial for different individuals. For example, some mothers may respond better by just herbs while others may benefit from calorie-dense dairy recipes or milk-boosting snacks.
  2. It is also important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to using a galactagogue. Each mother should be assessed on an individual basis and given advice accordingly.
  3. A combination of galactagogues should be safe and not evoke medical allergies in women.
  4. When talking about herbal galactagogue, the quantity should be recommended in safe quantities. To avoid any side effects during the crucial period of lactation. Breastfeeding mothers should stay in touch with their doctors and nutritionists to safely promote breast milk.

How do galactagogues benefit nursing moms?

There are a million different definitions of what it means to be lactogenic and the word has been used in various ways. Studies show that women who’ve had children have an increase of prolactin, or the hormone responsible for milk production, after breastfeeding which is helpful in building up your supply but these hormonal changes also have other impacts.

Lactating women are often susceptible to moodiness and depression because of their hormonal shifts. By consuming galactagogues, you’re giving your body the help it needs to better manage these changes.

Lactogenic herbs are those herbs that nourish, support, and enhance breast milk production. They contain a variety of nutrients that promote breast milk flow and build supply, such as amino acids and other precursors (proteins).

A lactating mother goes through a roller coaster of emotions. Post delivery, the physical recovery and emotional support to the mother are of utmost priority. Along with love, care, and support, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Hope this helps the new mothers to have a healthy start to their motherhood!

We at understand that the new mother needs support and empowerment. Write to us with your queries as well as if you are looking for detailed advice.

Feed your baby with love and positive energy and a relaxed mind.

Stay Nourished!

Stay Blessed!

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