16+ Herbs to Boost Lactation and Increase Milk Supply
Looking for a way to increase your milk supply?
Breastfeeding comes with multiple benefits for both you and your baby. At the same time, It’s also the main source of nutrition during the first 6 months of your newborn’s life.
Luckily, there are many ways to boost your lactation naturally.
One of the most effective ways is to include lactation-boosting herbs in your diet. That’s why we compiled a full list of the herbs that can help you produce more milk.
To gain optimal results, you can also follow these proven-to-work tips with your diet and nursing routine to boost your milk supply.
When Can Herbs Help for Low Milk Supply?
Before taking lactation-boosting herbs, you should understand the cause(s) of a low milk supply.
For example, with medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure, herbs might not be enough to stimulate your milk flow. In these instances, you might want to seek the help of a lactation consultant.
However, herbs are very helpful if you experience low milk supply due to:
- Lack of sleep
- Taking birth control
Disclaimer: To understand which herbs are most suitable for you and your baby, consult with your doctor. This way, you can determine if you need to take a single herb or combination of herbs, receive the right dosage, and ensure that the herb(s) will not cause any negative side effects for you and your baby.
16+ Herbs to Boost Lactation
#1. Pump It Up
This lactation supplement combines 4 herbs - chamomile, fennel, motherwort, and raspberry.
This powerful herbal mix can support a faster milk release and reduce the symptoms of gas that irritate your baby’s tummy.
While the fennel and raspberry promote lactation, the chamomile has a soothing effect on you and your little one. Motherwort, on the other hand, is a great herb for postpartum recovery that is safe to take while breastfeeding.
Fennel can boost your milk supply because it contains phytoestrogens. These phytoestrogens increase the levels of estrogen in your body and help you produce more milk.
Fennel is also used as a stomach pain relief medicine. That’s why when you take fennel, it will also help reduce any colic symptoms in your baby and soothe its belly.
You can take fennel as a tea (but you’ll have to drink it several times a day to get the benefits). Otherwise, you can either eat a handful of fennel seeds or take it as a supplement.
Fenugreek is another phytoestrogen herb that can stimulate your milk production when taken consistently.
Even though fenugreek is a safe herb, it might cause gas in you or your baby. Also, you should stay away from fenugreek if you’re pregnant because it causes uterine contractions.
You can take fenugreek in tea form. Just put a spoonful of fenugreek seeds into a cup of boiling water and drink it throughout the day. You can also take fenugreek as a supplement.
You’ll observe an increase in your milk supply within 24-72 hours after starting it. However, for some women, it might take up to 2 weeks before seeing any noticeable increase in their milk supply.
#4. Raspberry Leaf
Raspberry leaf extract is beneficial for feminine health and can also stimulate your milk release. It’s also especially helpful to take it during your postpartum phase because it helps the uterus to recover faster.
Raspberry leaf is loaded with nutrients and vitamins like vitamin B3, manganese, iron, magnesium, and calcium. That’s why it’s part of many lactation supplements and tea blends.
You can also find it as a single ingredient supplement or tea.
#5. Blessed Thistle
Blessed thistle is another herb that’s widely used to stimulate lactation.
That’s because blessed thistle is believed to increase the hormone levels of prolactin and oxytocin. These hormones are responsible for milk production and milk release.
You can take blessed thistle as a tea, extract, capsules, or in powder form.
Alfalfa is a very nutritious plant with multiple health benefits like lowering blood pressure, helping digestion, stimulating milk production, and increasing the volume of your breast tissue.
The many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it contains make alfalfa a great replenishing supplement for postpartum recovery. Since alfalfa contains vitamin K, which helps blood clot faster, avoid using it if you’re on a blood-thinning medication.
You can take alfalfa as a supplement, include it in your diet in its sprout form, or drink alfalfa tea.
#7. Goat’s Rue
Goat’s Rue can help you increase your milk supply especially if you’ve had breast surgery or if you want to grow more breast tissue. Because this plant can lower your blood sugar, avoid using it if you have diabetes or experience low blood sugar levels.
Also, you should take Goat’s Rue only in its dried form because its plant form is toxic. You can find it as a supplement in the form of capsules.
#8. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle has been used for centuries to aid milk production. That’s because milk thistle contains the active ingredient Silymarin, a chemical that stimulates lactation.
Milk thistle is also beneficial for your liver because of its detoxifying properties and it’s also good for your heart health.
You can take milk thistle as a tea, capsules, or liquid extract.
Shatavari is beneficial for women’s reproductive health and can also boost fertility in both men and women.
For nursing moms, Shatavari can stimulate the milk supply and can also maintain a consistent milk flow in women who want to conceive while breastfeeding.
Additionally, Shatavari can maintain your hormone balance and regulate your menstrual cycle. It is widely used to relieve menopause symptoms and tone the uterus.
You can take Shatavari in powder form, as capsules, or as a liquid extract.
#10. Brewer’s Yeast
Even though brewer’s yeast is mostly used in the making of beer and bread, it’s also a very popular galactagogue (breast milk supply stimulant).
Not only does it boost lactation but it’s also very nutritious. Brewer’s yeast is rich in iron, biotin, folic acid, selenium, and protein. It’s a great supplement for postpartum recovery and also makes your hair, nails, and skin shinier.
You can take brewer’s yeast in the form of capsules.
Anise seeds contain the phytoestrogen anethole and can help with blocked milk ducts and generally boost your milk supply.
You can take anise as a tea 2-3 times a day. Just put a handful of anise seeds in 3 cups of boiling water. This should be enough to last you throughout the day. To add some sweetness, just put a spoonful of honey into the mix.
#12. Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle is a dark green leafy plant and similarly to alfalfa it’s rich in nutrients. Stinging nettle can increase your milk supply and you can start taking it right after birth.
Its high iron content also helps fight off anemia and fatigue, giving you some extra energy.
You can take it as a tea or in the form of capsules.
Moringa is a very nutritious plant native to Africa and Asia. The plant can improve your immune system and also treats anemia because of its high iron levels.
It also has a beneficial effect on breast milk supply and can be taken during pregnancy after the first trimester.
However, you should not take moringa if you’re trying to get pregnant because the plant can make conceiving harder.
You can take moringa as a liquid or powder extract, capsules, or tea.
Cinnamon is widely used by moms who want to increase their milk supply. You can mix a pinch of cinnamon in your tea, or with a little bit of water and honey.
It’s also a common ingredient in many lactation cookie recipes.
#15. Cumin Seeds
Cumin is another spice you might want to add to your diet if you want to boost your milk supply. Cumin seeds also have high iron levels and can give you some extra energy.
You can either mix cumin seeds with a little bit of honey and add it to your tea, water, or a glass of warm milk. Or you can use it as a spice for your meals.
Vitex (also known as Chasteberry) can help you regain your hormone balance after giving birth. This way, your body can adjust faster to its changes and you will observe a steady milk supply. With this herb, you don’t have to worry about your little one being underfed.
Vitex can also help you normalize your menstrual cycle while breastfeeding.
You can find Vitex in the form of capsules and as a liquid extract.
#17. Foods That Increase Milk Supply
You can also try to add these foods to your daily diet:
- Oatmeal - It’s a great source of iron, an important mineral for maintaining a high supply of breast milk. Just have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast or make some oatmeal-based lactation cookies.
- Garlic - Many moms believe that garlic increases their milk supply. Just add 1-2 cloves of garlic to one of your daily meals. Garlic also gives a distinguished taste to your milk which many babies like. However, if you notice that your baby feeds less, it might not like the flavor and you can try another milk boosting herb.
- Ginger - Adding this spicy ingredient to your tea or food can boost your milk supply since ginger has lactogenic properties.
Herbs to Avoid While Breastfeeding
There are also some herbs that might decrease your milk supply and you certainly want to stay away from them while breastfeeding.
- Lemon balm
Other herbs can even be harmful to you and your baby.
Some of them are:
- Dong Quai
- Kava kava
Many herbs can boost your milk supply. To choose the herbs that are the best fit for you and your baby, you should consult your doctor.
Once your treatment is approved, you can start taking the right lactation herb and you’ll soon see an increase in your milk supply!