Monday, September 9, 2013

Why Fenugreek Isn't Working for Breastfeeding

     The truth is fenugreek is a great tool to boost milk supply in most moms.  However, in the two decades that I have been helping nursing moms, I get this comment a lot, "Fenugreek didn't work for me."  How can it be that an herb with such great success stories doesn't work for a large number of mothers.  In most cases, the answer is in the quality, dosage or delivery method.
     Many moms buy Fenugreek at a local health food or grocery store in brands that are not stored or bottled in the best way to keep them at full potency.  Also, shelf life factors into this so buying from a store that doesn't cater to the largest market for Fenugreek, nursing mothers, will not have the best turn-around.  It is always a good practice to check the expiration date on any herb before using.  Fenugreek capsules work best when taken in a quality brand like Nature's Herbs or Nature's Way Fenugreek and in the appropriate dosage or combination.   The correct dosage is essential.  If you are under 150 lbs, start with three capsules, three times daily.  Yes, that is nine capsules per day.  Possible side effects of fenugreek for mom are loose stools and you may smell like maple, but who cares if you are taking this short term for a boost and the result is more milk!  If you stools are not loose or you are over 150 lbs, you can take up to 5 capsules three times daily.  This dosage is for Nature's Herbs as it is 620 mg per capsule.  Some brands only contain 500 mg.  You should see more milk in 48-72 hours.  Always finish the bottle which is about a 10 day supply.  Don't save it for later as once you open the bottle, it begins to loose freshness.  If you are still not getting a result, combine Fenugreek with Blessed Thistle.  Take 3 Fenugreek + 2 Blessed Thistle three times daily.  You can also use Alfalfa instead of Blessed Thistle.
     What about Fenugreek drinks?  Fenugreek Tea such as Mother's Milk Tea, Earth Mama Angel Baby Milkmaid Tea tea bags should be steeped for about 15 minutes to get the full amount of herb available.  It is more difficult to tell how much you taking so I only recommend using tea bags as a supplement to the capsules or for long-term intermittent use and not for a quick three day boost.
    The best way to get the correct herbal dosage is either a capsule with a single herb such as fenugeek or a single serve kcup lactation tea that serves the same amount of herbs every time.  Anna Naturals Nursing Mama Tea comes in single serve cup for  kcup compatible brewers and is the best-tasting of all the herbal lactation teas we have found! This lactation tea cup works in Keurig and other k cup style brewers.  Drink 3 cups daily for best results or use as a supplement in taking with Fenugreek or Blessed Thistle capsules if drinking sporadically.  (Paragraph added 3/2/16)
     Remember, milk supply is usually a supply and demand issue.  Baby is not nursing frequently enough or emptying the breast well enough or you are not pumping for a full 15 minutes or every 3 hours while at work.  Another reason for low supply could be missing out on growth spurts.  If you miss a growth spurt,  add 3 extra nursing or pumping sessions with a quality double breast pump in each day for five days in a row to make up for the missed stimulation.

Best wishes for a healthy milk supply!
Tanya






28 comments:

  1. Thank you for this! I've been taking 10-12 fenugreek capsules a day for about 3 months and I've gotten no results- not even the side effects. If anything I've gotten the exact opposite, more constipation, less milk. It's been uber frustrating especially when I hear that it works for some almost immediately. The brand I've been getting is Spring Valley from Wal-Mart and I'm most sure that is the culprit. I will try this brand- I'm hoping it'll do the trick.

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  3. This is really interesting, thank you for sharing!

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  4. Is the brand simple truth fenugreek work as good as natures way?

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    1. We do not have any knowledge of that brand. The two I recommend are Nature's Herbs and Nature's Way. Best wishes!

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  6. I've been using a ton of Nature's way feenugreek and blessed thistle and still don't have enough milk. I've also tried pumping, drinking a lot of water, I take vitamin B complex. I've eaten a ton of lactation cookies, milk maid tea, fennel tea, beer, cod liver oil, pine nut oil ... with everything I've tried I notice an increase for a day or 2 then it drops back down .... Any suggestions?

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    1. Hi! It may be that your breasts are not being drained effectively. Please contact me at 800-216-8151 so that I can better understand the issue to give you accurate advice. Questions I will need answered are related to the age of the baby, your breastfeeding history, nursing and/or pumping schedule, etc. Best wishes!

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  7. I'm taking spring valley fenugreek, blessed thistle, and mothers milk. Don't see a change. My daughter was 37 weeks and 5 lbs 12 oz. She latched on with no problem. She likes to sleep while nursing, or her pull isn't as strong as my son. He seemed to be more aggressive than she. I have the Ameda pump that my insurance paid for. Any advice would be appreciated as I am soon to return to work.

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    1. Hi Michelle, Here is a link to find a breastmilk intake chart on how much you should be making which is contingent on your baby's current weight. http://www.lactationconnection.com/Feeding-s/1907.htm If you are average size, take 3 fenugreek and 2 blessed thistle three times per day. If you are plus size, go up to 5 fenugreek. Use your double breast pump three times daily after nursing for 5 days in a row to simulate a growth spurt. Give us a call if you still have questions at 254-728-3627.

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    2. Since this post things got better and then my now 11 pound child has figured out her breast milk comes out faster in bottle than me and doesn't want to stay latched for long. My production is almost nothing due to getting tired of taking the herbs and tea. Any help would be great! I don't like and want to use formula being that I am home with her.

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    3. There are several things you can try. I would start with changing to a brand new newborn nipple so the bottle is not as fast. I would recommend that you only breastfeed and someone else give a bottle only when you are unavailable. This may take up to three weeks of fussiness, but usually they go back to the breast after that. Best wishes!

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  8. High i am new to breast feeding thinking about trying the natures way fenugreek to help with supply my son is latching good but when i pump i just got a little over a ounce that was my first time pumping and my little guy just made a month is this good and what is blessed thistle??

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    1. Blessed Thistle is another herbal galactagogue and can be used instead of or in combination with fenugreek to increase milk supply. You should not take more than 5 capsules 3x per day of either or both herbs that contain 500-626mg. So if you want to try a combination, you can try 3 fenugreek and 2 blessed thistle capsules three times daily. Results should be evident by day 4-5 if they are helping your milk supply.

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    2. If the fenugreek and blessed thistle don't work, is there anything else that you recommended me doing? I'm just Hoping that I don't have to go to get a prescription for my milk to come in, this is honestly my last resort.

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    3. In addition to extra stimulation with a good double pump at least 3 times per day after nursing, I would recommend a lactation aid until your milk comes in. This helps with let down and keeps baby at the breast longer to increase milk supply. Here is a link to an inexpensive feeding tube with instruction to use as a lactation aid: http://www.lactationconnection.com/Jack-Newman-s-Lactation-Aid-Feeding-Tube-p/54-5036-2.htm

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  9. Hi my son is now 2 months and a week old , it was hard getting him to latch on when he was born so I end up pumping instead for only a week and a half and supplementing with formula then I started weaning and have him staright formula . I'm not happy about what's in formula so I'm trying to build my supply back up and they are almost completely dried up . I pumped once and hardly got anything , came back four days later and pumped again and got halfway to a ounce So I decided to take Natures Way Fenugreek and now there's even less milk coming out like its drying my supply out instead of increasing it . What do I do ??? Should I quit taking the herb or wait ??? I was taking 3 pills at 12:30am , 8:30pm , and 4:30am .. I just upped my dose to 4 pills because there are no side effects as far as maple smell or loose stool or increase , more like decrease HELP

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    1. It is common that you would get more milk when it has been a while since you pumped last. You need to pump on a regular basis and continue taking the fenugreek. Pump every 2-3 hours for 10 minutes of double pumping whether milk is coming out or not. By the time you finish the bottle of fenugreek if you continue with this regimin you should see results, but may need to keep it up until full milk supply is back since you are relactating. Use breast cream to easy irritation before pumping while you are "dry pumping." Best wishes!

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  11. Hi I'm trying to increase supply I had my baby at 27 weeks 4 days and I'm putting out about 40-50ml then other sessions i only get 10-20ml combined when I pump my baby is still in the hospital I ve done everything you name it is my body just putting out the amount he would consume he is almost a month old and still in nicu I'm trying to increase I'm taking spring valley brand fenugreek I don't want to give up but I feel inadequate it seems like everything working for everyone but me plus I have a very busy 3 yr old do you think its stress idk just need advice that may work for me thanks!

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    1. Don't give up mama! Premature babies health is greatly affected by whether or not they receive breastmilk. Every ounce or ml counts! Email me with specifics about your baby's weight at birth and how old your baby is now and what the current weight is so I can give you specific advice. Contact me through my website here: http://www.lactationconnection.com/articles.asp?ID=252

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  12. Hi I am trying to increase the amount of pumped milk. Baby is two months old, about 14 pounds. He never latched, so I just pump. I eventually just went to 4 pumping sessions a day and he is formula fed for the rest. I went to 4 sessions bc it was just too much to feed him, hold him and try to spend quality time with him if I was also pumping every 2 to 3 hrs all day. I was getting 16 oz total over those 4 sessions and now it has gradually dropped to 12 oz and I'm afraid it will keep dropping. I've been taking natures way fenugreek 5 capsules 3 x a day for a week and haven't noticed an increase. Some days I try to add an extra 15 min pumping session but that totals in maybe another oz max. Any suggestions? I am fine with him being 50/50 formula and breast milk, but I am nervous my supply will just keep dropping to nearly nothing. Thanks! Laura

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    1. This often happens when pumping moms get what they need in less pumping sessions, but your body thinks you are weaning unless you are pumping 8 times or more per day with a baby under 6 months. My recommendation is to pump every 2 hours during the day for 5 days in a row and then go to every 3 hours until your baby is 6 months. Make sure you get at least 8 10-15 minute double pumping sessions with a good double pump such as Ameda, Spectra or Hygeia. Pump even if milk is not flowing as the principle of supply and demand applies. If you day gets busy and you miss a pumping, put the next two closer together as little as 1 hour apart to get in 8 per day, but pumping for 30 min does not equal two 15 min pumpings. They need to be spread apart to be effective at telling your body your baby needs more milk. Best wishes!

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  13. Hi! I have just delivered my baby girl 2 weeks ago and have been breastfeeding her exclusively till few days ago, I really had to supplement with formula milk as she just refused to sleep at night and woke up every hour for feeding. Gave her both breasts and still insufficient and cried for more feeds. Almost every night she has been doing that and at the same time, Im also wondering if Im really producing enough milk for her. She did pass urine and stools. The thing is, whenever I did not latch and chose to pump instead, I could only get 5-10mls out of each breast. Shouldnt milk supply gets more when we latch often? Im really into breastfeeding and hoping that with my pumped milk, i could use it for night time if she needs extra milk instead of using the formula. However, my milk dont seem to increase and it really saddens me. Baby latches well and in day time, she slept 2-3hrs after every feed before waking up again for the next. May I know why my milk just dont come out when being pumped out? Am I really producing that much of milk only? & I wonder why baby refused to sleep despite hourly feeding. Im amazed with how other mothers can get 2-3oz everytime. ohh and i always get a let down every time during the start of latching. I thout i had an oversupply but when i pumped, its just the same little amount. help! :(

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    1. In order to best assist you, I will need a little more information. What was her birth weight. When was her check up and how much did she weigh? What pump are you using? What time of day did you pump and how long had it been since the last feeding when you got the 10ml? Was your 2 week hold having 6-8 wet diapers and 3-4 mustard colored stools before you began supplementing? (As a side note, please know that it is not common for babies to sleep through the night at that age.)

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    2. Her birth weight is 2.53kg. Last check was yesterday and weight was 2.62kg. Im currently using Avent single pump and usually I pumped in the day time but not often as Im always getting that little amount which always demoralised me thus, I chose to latch on demand throughtout and used formula at night when she just wont sleep despite the hourly feeding and crying for more milk. If I pumped, I would do it 3hours after last feeding. I did tried to pump post feeding and of course, amount was even lesser than 10mls. I did ever pumped at night and its just the same. I had no issue with baby wetting diapers eversince birth and before supplementing with formula as she has been able to wet diapers both urine and motion up till now and yes, 6-8 diapers with 3-4 mustard coloured stools. I do know baby will wake up for feedings at night but what makes me wonder and tires me is that she tends to want more even with hourly feeding and dont really sleep much as she does in the day time where she slept at least 2-3hrs before nxt feeding.

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    3. It sounds like she is right on target having regained her birth weight by 2-3 weeks. Although if she was premature, they might be wanting her to gain more rapidly. The pump you are using may not give you an accurate reading and it needs to be 3 hours since you fed to get an accurate amount that you are producing. My recommendation is to use a good double pump such as the Hygeia EnJoye, Spectra S2 or Ameda Purely Yours. To get her to do a longer stretch at night, wake her every 2 hours during the day and make sure she is not sleeping at the breast, but rather actively sucking and swallowing. Massaging the breast towards her mouth helps with this. She should gain at least 0.141748 kg which is 5 oz each week right now. Supplementation with formula can decrease your milk supply so it is better to put her on the breast frequently as long as she is wetting and pooping well as discussed previously. IF you supplement, make sure you pump for 10-15 min with a good double pump or your milk supply will be compromised. Best wishes!

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