18 answers

Increasing Milk Production- Fenugreek And/or Blessed Thistle

I am trying everything I can think of to increase my milk supply. I am currently either nursing the baby or pumping every two to three hours and sometimes both if I feel like she hasn't really emptied me out. I have also tried Reglan- didn't do a thing. So now I'm taking Fenugreek and have been taking it for about a month. Although the change has been small, I have noticed an increase. My question is, can you take Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle together? And how much of each? I did also buy some Mother's Milk tea, but I read that it wasn't recommended that you take fenugreek and the tea because they have some of the same ingredients.
Any other suggestions for increasing milk production are appreciated as well.

2 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

I received so many responses that I printed them all out, made a list and then started working on the ones I wasn't already doing. I added Blessed Thistle to my routine as well as the Mother's Milk tea and oatmeal for breakfast. I was in the process of exploring the possibility of renting a hospital grade pump so I called the lactation clinic at my daughter's pediatrician's office and was really lucky to get the lactation nurse on the phone. I told her what was going on and she asked me a bunch of questions and then recommended that I come in and have my pump checked (btw, a hosptial grade pump and a properly working personal pump are exactly the same in terms of effectiveness at expressing milk- I always imagined that "hospital grade" meant it was somehow more powerful). Anyway, she checked my pump and it is fine. We talked some more and, long story short, she recommended goat's rue which is another herb. She also told me that the purpose of the blessed thistle is to help you tolerate the fenugreek which can apparently cause gas. Since I had been taking fenugreek before and wasn't having that problem she said I could stop taking it. I have been taking the goat's rue for two days and I have already notices an increase. I would say it averages 1/2oz-1oz each time I pump. The goat's rue was fairly expensive (about $25 for 60 capsules), but it's worth it to me if I can keep my milk supply up. I hope this information will be helpful to someone else.

Featured Answers

I don't know about those products but I am also breastfeeding and found out that the weightloss patches I sell are also good for milk production. I signed up when my husband started using them so we could get them at half price then when I found out about the benefit for milk production I started wearing them. Now not only am I losing weight but my millk production has increased quite a bit. If you are interested let me know.

I believe you can. I took a tea called Mother's Milk that contains both ingredients I believe. It WORKED!!! Good luck!

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I had good luck with fenugreek alone, but I found a refernce on kellymom.com that says they actually work BETTER together. You should see some difference within a week if it is going to work for you.

http://www.kellymom.com/newman/24cabbageleaves-herbs-leci...

I also added lecithin to my diet. I wasn't having a big problem with blocked ducts, but it seemed to help with the expression of my milk. I went back to work when my daughter was 10 weeks and pumped (even on business trips) until she was a year old--then I continued to nurse when we were together until she was 18 months.

Try pumping BEFORE you nurse your daughter 1-2 times a day. It is estimated that a great pump only gets about 60% of the available milk. Your daughter will benefit from the extra serving of hindmilk she will get.

Also, oatmeal is reported to increase milk supply--use steel-cut or old-fashioned (not instant) for best results.

I can't resist sharing my favorite way to eat oatmeal. Best time saving tip: cook ahead, portion out, and refrigerate or freeze. It only takes a couple of minutes in the microwave and a little milk for texture.

Cook your oats as directed. About 3 minutes before done, add cinnamon, chopped dry mango, unsweetened coconut flakes, and some vanilla (or coconut or almond) extract. Sweeten with a little honey just before serving and add some toasted nuts (I love almonds or pecans).

Other combinations:
dried pear, coconut, ginger
fresh apple, nutmeg/cinnamon, coconut
dried cranberry, ginger, coconut

(Yes, I do love coconut)

Good luck!

I believe you can. I took a tea called Mother's Milk that contains both ingredients I believe. It WORKED!!! Good luck!

rent a hospital grade pump

I have taken the fenugreek AND the tea AND the blessed thistle all together.
3 of each pill 2 times a day. And a I made a pitcher full of the Mothers Milk and drank 2 cups a day with my meals.
there was an increase with the fenugreek, but more so with the blessed thistle added - and especially more so with the Mothers Milk tea as well. I believe the Mothers milk absorbs more quickly because your body is not having to break down a capsule.

Another thing - Oatmeal for breakfast. It;s my old standby. 1 huge serving of oatmeal for breakfast, remembering to drink plenty of water daily - and I always notice a milk increase after 2 days.

The only thing that I found that worked for me was pumping more frequently. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. It took a couple of days to catch up, but pumping more frequently worked for me. Congratulations on your new baby!

Hi E.!

Congratulations on your new baby!! to answer your question, yes, you can take blessed thistle along with fenugreek.

my son is 8 months old and i've been pumping exclusively since he was 1 week old. my supply had been great but when i decided to decrease my daily caloric intake, it went down by 10 oz in a day!!! of course i freaked out, i wanted my son to have breast milk for his entire first year of life (at least). my lactation consultant told me take fenugreek and to slightly increase my caloric intake again, also to stay super hydrated. i started taking 3 capsules of fenugreek, 3 times a day, made sure to drink loads of water and juice and added a few more calories to my daily intake (easily done with the juice). my supply went back up.

i had another dip in my supply a few months ago and actually called my ob/gyn's office about it. they recommended that i add blessed thistle to what i'm already doing and gave me this helpful website to check out:

http://www.drjacknewman.com/help/Protocol%20to%20Increase...

obviously since i pump exclusively, not all the info pertains to me, but you may find it useful as you both breastfeed and pump. i am happy to say that my son is 8 months old, he is *still* a bottle-fed breast milk baby (and very happy) and i have a deep freezer full or milk and am still producing more (and have tapered my pumping to only 3 times a day by this point as opposed to every 3 hours which is what i'd started out doing). here's what i do every day to help my body make that happen:

Fenugreek - 3 capsules as least 3 times a day (sometimes i do 4 times). i do not smell like maple syrup, but i hear that you know you're taking enough when your sweat and/or urine smell of maple.

Blessed Thistle - 2 capsules twice daily (usually with my first and last pumping of the day).

Water- at least 3 liters a day. if you find water boring, add a flavoring agent like fresh fruit or juice or even powder packets (crystal light, propel and the like).

Rest - i try to sleep well at night but that doesn't always happen (my son still wakes for at least one night feeding) so i try to take at least a 30 min. nap every day. i find when i am more rested and less stressed, i produce more.

Exercise - walking is fabulous. i'm sure it helps with the stress level and my son loves being outside so its something we can do together.

Food - balance is great but doesn't always happen. i learned the hard way that you must consume enough calories for your body to create a good supply of milk. that means different things for different people b/c our body compositions/constitutions aren't all the same. i've found on days when i eat lots of fruit and veggies that i produce more. especially when i'm eating fluid rich fruits like melon or berries.

Tea - i don't drink these teas every day, but i do enjoy Milk Maid tea and Mother's Milk tea from time to time. i think according to the box you have to drink a lot of it to really get the results from the herbs. i don't really know. i think the act of preparing and drinking a cup of tea is very nurturing and relaxing so i feel that has more to do with helping my supply than perhaps the type of tea. that's just my opinion though. i do know that early on, my consumption of caffeine directly affected my son's ability to sleep so if you choose caffeinated tea, i would try to have it a few hours before you're going to feed your baby so you can get it out of your system.

Pump - i used to pump every 3 hours when i started out. i even set an alarm clock! over the months i have slowly changed my schedule omitting a pumping here or there and rearranging so that there is a relatively even amount of time between pumping. recently (as in 1 week ago) i changed my schedule again and now i am only pumping 3 times a day and while i no longer pump what i did at the very beginning, i am still pumping at least as much as my son drinks in a day. your breast pump is very important. make sure all the parts are fully functional. on my particular pump, there is a very small valve that needs changed every so often. if not, then the pump doesn't work as well and it not only takes longer to get the milk out, i also find i get less of it out in those cases. there's a store in Austin called Special Addition that sells all sorts or parts for breast pump maintenance.

i really hope this helps you. please don't give up. i know it can be stressful right now but what you are doing is important. don't let well meaning friends and family talk you into giving up if this is something you really want to do. i was told most women can't/don't pump exclusively past 3 months.... it was important to me to give my son the good nutrition of breast milk and since my body was producing, i determined i would pump as long as i could. my son is now 8 months old and i'm still pumping exclusively. it hasn't been glamorous and sometimes, it hasn't even been very easy. there have been frustrations along the way but in the end, my son is able to drink breast milk and my husband and other family members are able to participate in feeding my son, a very nurturing, wonderful time. i can definitely say the herbs and good nutrition have helped me. i hope they help you too! best wishes and don't give up!!

-S.

Hi E.. I also had some milk production problems while nursing my son. I talked to my lactation consultant (she has been a lactation consult. for 25 years) and she said I should take 3 fenugreek and 3 blessed thistle three times per day. She said the mother's milk tea may or may not increase milk production but the fenugreek/blessed thistle combination would definitely work. And it did! Within 2 days my milk production increased SIGNIFICANTLY. I know it can be quite frustrating but hang in there. Give it a try and see what happens. If it doesn't work for you, try something else but remember - it will get easier! By the way, my lactation consultant had to help me out numerous times in the first few months and she was so helpful. Maybe you want to find one with lots of experience or I can give you the number for mine. Hope this helps!

E.,
Congrats on your baby! And on successfully nursing this long!
First thing I'd like to say is that the lactating breast is never truly "empty". Pumping after nursing is one way to increase your milk supply.

Some other tips on increasing milk production:
-When nursing at home, pump on side that baby is not on. This takes advantage of the let-down reflex on that side while your baby nurses. Also, when pumping right after a nursing, you will not be able to pump as much since your baby just ate. Also, very few women (if any) are able to pump as much as their babies are able to get out. That is, your baby nurses more milk out of you in a given amount of time than a pump ever could in the same amount of time. Hope that makes sense. My body never could let down for a pump. The most I ever was able to pump out in one sitting was 3oz. Yet my daughter was 25lbs at 8mos....solely breastfed....I can tell you that what is nursed and what is pumped out are two different things.

-Wear your baby as much as you can. Do you have a sling? You can find them on e-bay/ craigslist for about $25. I use a ring sling with my babies. Co-sleep if it is safe for you to do so – even if it’s just naps. The more you can be skin-to-skin (or close to it), the better. This will help your body hormonally to produce more milk.

-LOTS of water is good.

- Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle are good herbs. When it comes to Fenugreek, you know you’re taking enough when you’re body fluids start to smell like
maple syrup. :-)

-Traditional Medicinal makes a Mother’s Milk Tea. I, personally, am not a hot tea person – so I made a half-gallon, sweetened it with sugar and drank it cold. It’s not the most wonderful tasting tea, but I’ve had teas that are much more bitter than this one! The down-side is that you have to drink a LOT. IMO, you're better off taking the Blessed Thistle and fenugreek separate from the tea.

-There are certain stretches and pressure points that you can do before nursing/pumping to aid the let-down reflex. 1.) Roll your shoulders around to stimulate between your shoulder blades and spine. 2.) Cross your arms at/near the wrists and, using your knuckles, rub your chest. 3.) Take 3 deep, cleansing breaths.
*Remember, you will be able to nurse/pump more if you are relaxed.

I’ve also heard that certain beers are handy for increasing supply, but I don’t know anyone with personal experience with this. It may be that the mom becomes relaxed enough to not stress over nursing, and then is able to let down/nurse more as a result. I've also heard that oatmeal is good, though I have no personal experience with that.

Also, kellymom.com is a good online resource. As far as I can tell it is all sound advice.

Last of all, but perhaps most important. Contact your local La Leche League leader. Phone consults are absolutely FREE. Attend a meeting if you can. That way you can hear what other moms have done that worked for them. Also it is a great source of encouragement for breastfeeding.
http://www.lllaustin.org/
Above is a link to the Austin metro meetings and the awesome Leaders who facilitate them.

I hope that you find some of this helpful. If anything I wrote needs clarification, or causes you to have more questions, please do not hesitate to email me!

K., mama to
Catherine, 5.5y
Samuel, 2.5y
Baby, 9/09

The more water or juice you drink the more milk you will have.

Omgosh! The tea is a blessing! I drank at least five cups a day! I usually don't respond but this is a passion (and a response from my gphone no less!).

Drink that tea and do it like its no one else's business...

It will also calm your stomach and your little one's!

Are you scheduling the feedings? Sleep "training"?
Both can inhibit milk production. Feed that baby as often as it needs and - I will keep my opinions about CIO to myself - if you are "training" please google the words: harvard cry it out...

You are doing fine! You can pump in between as well. Part of releasing milk involves relaxing... are you hydrated? Drinking a ton of water?

My contact info is on my page should you need any further assistance!

I breast-fed for 2 years, and post birth education is my love. I'm currently training to be a post-pardom doula.

I don't know about those products but I am also breastfeeding and found out that the weightloss patches I sell are also good for milk production. I signed up when my husband started using them so we could get them at half price then when I found out about the benefit for milk production I started wearing them. Now not only am I losing weight but my millk production has increased quite a bit. If you are interested let me know.

Hi E.,

There is a book called TODAYS HERBAL HEALTH 3RD EDITION, BY LOUISE TENNEY M. H.

On page 287 is Section XVI Nursing Mothers

Blessed Thistle is know to increase mother's milk, Brewer's yeast taken daily will increase milk as well as give the mother necessary energy. Red Raspberry and Marshmallow tea is good. Alfalfa is excellent for rich milk and strength for the mother. Fennel Seeds boiled in barley water helps increase mother's milk.

You can get the book at any library or amazon.com.

On my website on the reading page is a list of books that might be of interest to you.

www.creeksideherbhouse.com

Hope this helps

Blessings
J.

E., are you eating a good balanced diet yourself and are you living as stress free as possible? I know that stress free is hard but aim for it. Don't turn down any good help, etc. Then, are you drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding most sweets? Avoid sodas. I relied on water, milk and juices. I nursed my babies a long time ago but these are the things that helped me with milk production. I don't know about the herbs you named. I weaned between the ages of 9 to 13 months. I only pumped when my breasts were too full. I wish the best for you and wish I could be more help. I can recommend a very good multi-vitamin if you want to contact me. I am a big fan of the best B-Complex on the market. It is the vitamin that helps with stress and so much more.

U have many resp. so pls excuse me if I'm reptng what someone has already said. IMO, Mother's Milk is super quick. I don't know why it's only been a slight increase in your milk supply after a full month of taking fenugreek, my heavens, you shouldn't have to wait more than a day to boost up your milk supply safely and "healthily" so I'll tell you what I've done in the past several times over. I skipped the fen and blsd thistle and only used Mother's Milk. Steeped two bags in my percolator with 12 cups of water. Poured it into a large jug like a 2 qt. container back and forth from percolator to jug over and over to cool it off (after percolating, to speed up the cooling process). Chill in fridge. Drink it by the cup like cool, refreshing iced tea. Add some sugar if desired (after awhile I was able to kick the sweet habit and now I love it plain, as long as there is lots of ice). If you drink it within 24 hours or less, I promise you that you will immediately "beef up" the milk supply and the only side effect would be a multitude of restroom breaks! Hope that helps. Just another mom's experience to consider. Best wishes and I hope you quickly find the results you're looking for. Take care!

I would take three capsules each three times a day. You can even stop when your supply is up. But the best thing to do the whole time is drink lots of water! At least 64 oz. a day, but it would be better to drink more. That has helped me. :-)

I drank mothers milk tea at krogers, fiesta, and gnc. I was able to nurse for a year.

Apologies if this is a repeat - I only skimmed the other responses. Drink lots and lots of water - it is so easy to get dehydrated when nursing, and that will suppress milk production (also why some blood donation centers won't accept lactating women - threat of dehydration). Plus, if you have allergies, some OTC allergy stuff will suppress milk production (I had this problem with both Claritin and Zyrtec). So, if this is your situation, you might want to lay off the allergy/cold stuff for a couple of days and see if that helps.

Also, if you are nursing or pumping EVERY two to three hours, take a night off and get some sleep. If she's not demanding at night, then you don't need the surplus at night-time, anyway. Sleep deprivation is not helping your body function, and milk production is sort of on the low end of your body's priority list. So, sleep. When baby finally wakes you up, let her drain one side until she falls asleep again, then pump the other side. Works for me.

Hope this helps.

If I were you, I'd nurse every 2 hours and then pump half an hour or so after you are finished. You only need to pump for 10 minutes or so. You said you are EITHER nursing OR pumping every 2-3 hours. Since a 3 month old usually nurses every 2-3 hours then you need to continue to do that and AD pumping to it. It tells your body that the baby needs more milk.

HTH!

S., mom to 4 girls

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