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 10-15 minute double pumping sessions with a quality double breast pump in each day for five days in a row to make up for the missed stimulation.  This simulates a growth spurt and studies show this extra hour of stimulation per day

     In addition to everything else you are doing, make sure you are drinking to thirst and make your snacks count.  It never hurts to eat a lactation cookie or boobie bar instead of donuts for breakfast or candy for a snack.

   

Best wishes for a healthy milk supply!
Tanya







41 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.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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

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

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

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  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?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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!

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    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!

      Delete
  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??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    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

      Delete
  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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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!

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  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!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
  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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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!

      Delete
  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! :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.)

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    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!

      Delete
  14. Hello,

    Like most moms on here, I am having a hard time with my milk supply. Baby girl was born almost 5 months ago 10 days early. She did have a little trouble latching at first (her frenulum under her tongue is very far forward) we worked through that issue and my milk came in BIG TIME with an over supply the whole time I was on maternity leave (9 weeks). I was able to fill my entire freezer with the excess milk that I had even after her feedings. I went back to work mid Feb of this year and ever since then my supply has been so low. I've dropped down to only producing 3-4 ounces per pump instead of what I need to produce for her intake 6 ounces. She is about 14 pounds (on the petite side), but her doc says she is growing fine. She eats a whole 6 ounce bottle when she eats from a bottle, but I try to nurse when I'm home from work. I pump 3 times a day at work for 15-20 minutes each time. I've tried it all under the sun so far and even got Reglan prescribed for this a couple weeks ago. THe relglan made the supply boost, but I felt some twitching and was advised to stop taking it due to risky side effects. Now, it's been 3 days off of the Reglan and I'm back down. I take Fenugreenk and Blessed Thistle mix supplement and the bottle says to take it 3-4 times a day max, brand is upspring milk flow. Should I try this other brand you recommend?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many times when moms have more than enough milk in the beginning, they do not stimulate their bodies enough since they get what their baby needs in less pumping sessions. When your baby is under six months of age it is imperative to pump at least 8 times per day no matter what. And for exclusively pumping moms, pump 11-12 times per day during typical growth spurt times such as 3 weeks, 6 weeks and 3 months. This 11-12 times per day schedule should be done for no less than 5 days in a row to simulate a growth spurt. As for the brand you are taking, glass bottle brands are best, but hard to find. Look for Fenugreek in 610-626mg and take 5 capsules 3 times per day for best results. If you have become immune to fenugreek, switch to blessed thistle or combine 3 capsules of one with 2 capsules of the other three times per day. Best wishes!

      Delete
  15. Hi. I will also like some help. Im taking fenugreek from a well known brand South Africa bought at a pharmacy5x 500mg three times a day thus taking 15 caps daily. No increase in milk supply. Baby is drinking every 3 hours. I have even tried powerpumping for 3 days as well as pumping from the breast he had his feed from to make sure its EMPTY. Still no luck

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The mg content on the brand you are taking is not enough for the dosage you are taking. Also, fresh herbs are best so if the bottle has been open for a while or you have had it for a while, you might buy a new bottle. The optimal dosage is 3095mg to 3130 mg three times per day so calculate that according to each capsule mg. Also to simulate a growth spurt you must add three pumping sessions for five days in a row. Best wishes!

      Delete
  16. My daughter is now 1 month old and I've been exclusively pumping for 2 1/2 weeks now. I tried breastfeeding in the beginning but she was extremely tongue tied and even after having it corrected she wasn't getting enough milk by nursing. I had 2 appointment with a lactation specialist before I decided to exclusively pump. I have a Medela double pump and I've been pumping every 2-3 hrs. Mostly every 2 hr. In the night I wake up every 4-5 to pump. I have been taking lactation plus capsules (the honest co. Brand) for 3 weeks but only 2 capsules a day which the directions said. I have been taking 9 fenugreek capsules for 6 days and after 3 days bumped up to 11 capsules a day. Some times I'll pump out 2 oz. combined from both sides then other times I'll get .5-1 oz. I'm really trying to build my supply enough to start saving for when I go back to work. At this point my baby is getting more formula then breast milk and that's not what I want to do at all. I put in so much work to only give her 1-2 oz a feeding when she's up to almost 4oz each feeding. I tried power pumping, pumping for 10 min then resting 10 then pumping 10 etc. for 60 min 3 days in a row like the lactation nurse recommended and still my supply has barely increased. Majority of the time I get about 1 1/2 oz. about every 2 1/2 hr. I never had issues with milk supply with my other kids as they were strictly breastfed I did not pump. Do you have any suggestions that I haven't tried? I read to increase the fenugreek to 15 capsules a day which I will try and I see there is other herbs I can combine with it I will try. I'm just ready to give up which makes me very sad but I feel like it's so much work for such a small amount. Please if you have any recommendations please please let me know! Thanks!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Honest Brand may honestly not be doing you any favors. Since the Lactation Plus formula combines other herbs, I cannot tell you to take more than recommended. Find fenugreek that has been freshly stocked on the shelf in 610-626 mg and start with three capsules, three times per day. If you don't get loose stools, you can move up to five capsules three times per day. Instead of power pumping, I usually recommend simulating a growth spurt. Pump 11-12 times per day for a 10-15 minutes of double pumping for five days in a row. Studies show this amount of stimulation to increase milk supply in most women. Best wishes!

      Delete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi, my son was feeding with a tube when he was born, I started pumping at the hospital I got an emergency c section, I started producing some milk not much but he never wanted to latched it was very frustrating and still I never give up I been pumping and still trying to latch him they feeding later at the hospital with a bottle a heavy flow so now it's impossible for him to latched on. I'm taking fenugreek although I didn't have a problem with my milk supply, wanted to increased it I started taking fenugreek notice an incredible increase within 2 days but for some reason on my 4 th day my milk almost dried out!! I don't understand could this be the fenugreek??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. It is most likely stress induced or a lack of adequate stimulation and not the fenugreek. Make sure you are pumping a minimum of eight times per day with a good double breast pump for 10-15 minutes per pumping. Hang in there mama! Your breast milk is golden!

      Delete
  19. My daughter is 6 months old and I have struggled with milk supply since she was 2 months old. Her first month, we did great and she was gaining as expected. However, at her 2 month checkup, she was only 9lb 4oz (her birth weight was 7lb 14oz). She swallowed meconium at birth and was in the NICU, so I did not get to nurse her often in the hospital. We only tried twice and she wouldn't latch, so the LC suggested I use a nipple shield. With her poor weight gain and lack of wet/dirty diapers, we were encouraged to supplement. I work full time and pump 7-8 times a day and only get 6 total oz. She nurses great in the morning and acts satisfied, however, the rest of the day she refuses to nurse and gets very frustrated because milk isn't flowing out like a bottle. So far I have been taking 8 capsules of the 610mg capsules of fenugreek daily. Should I be increasing this? I do not want to wean but I feel like I've tried everything to increase my milk supply and it's not working. Pumping countless times a day and only getting 6oz is deflating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so sorry you have had so much trouble. A nipple shield can decrease milk supply by 10% without additional pumping stimulation, but it sounds like the supplementing caused a downward spiral. A 6 mo old infant needs approximately 24 oz of breastmilk in conjunction with her solid foods daily so while 6 oz may not seem like much, you are giving her 25% of the best milk possible. Having said that, I would love to help you increase your supply. First, unless you are having loose stools, I would either increase your fenugreek to 5 capsules three times daily or do 3 fenugreek and 2 blessed thistle combination 3 times daily. Continue pumping or nursing 8 times per day until supply is re-established, but re-position the breast shields every 3 minutes so you engage more milk ducts. Make sure you have replaced valves and filters or diaphragms as new ones will improve the suction on your pump. Finally, use a feeding tube to keep her interested at the breast. Here is a link to an inexpensive tube that can be placed in her bottle and then slipped into the corner of her mouth while she is nursing. http://www.lactationconnection.com/Jack-Newman-s-Lactation-Aid-Feeding-Tube-p/54-5036-2.htm There is also a video of this in use on the linked page.
      Best wishes!
      Tanya

      Delete
  20. Thank you for all the great tips! We quit using the nipple shield at around 3 or 4 months, so I was really happy with that. I will increase to 5 capsules three times daily and see if that helps.

    Should I be waking up at night and pumping? My daughter has slept consistently through the night since she was 5 weeks old. I want to increase my supply, but I also want to be well rested for work. It's a hard balance. I've heard that my body should adjust but I've also heard that I should be waking up and pumping. I'm not sure what to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome! That is not necessary since she is 6 months of age. The average infant that age only feeds 5 times per day, but you are pumping or nursing 8 to increase supply so as long as you get all that in during the day, there is no reason to wake either of you at night. Best wishes!

      Delete

We welcome your comments!