Providing babies with natural nutrients that are entirely beneficial to them through breastfeeding is one thing that mothers want to do right.
Q: I want to make sure I'm providing enough nutrition to my newborn, but I don't know if I'm producing enough milk. Is it safe to use herbal supplements to help?
A: Providing babies with natural nutrients that are entirely beneficial to them through breastfeeding is one thing that mothers want to do right. However, some moms become worried that they are not doing enough for their babies through breastfeeding, which leads them to seek out help from as many different sources as they can find.
One of those sources is galactagogues, which are supplements used to increase milk production in mothers. Many are herbal, including fenugreek, goat's rue, milk thistle and papaya. Some mothers worry they are not producing enough milk for their babies, and therefore they turn to these supplements in order to increase their milk production. As well-intended as these efforts may be, there are various problems that could occur from adding these supplements to your baby's diet.
Some supplements can cause blood sugar issues in mothers, while prescribed medicines could cause depression or mood disorders in mothers, both of which are unhealthy for babies. A healthy mother does not need additional nutritional supplements.
If you are worried that your baby is not gaining enough weight, try feeding them more often or talk to a doctor or lactation consultant. Always consult your child's pediatrician with concerns about your child's health.
-Michelle Ross, RD, LD, ALC, is Program Manager for Clinical Nutrition and Lactation at Nationwide Children's Hospital