Fenugreek (Methi) and Breast Milk Supply – Does It Really Help?

FENUGREEK

Doctors recommend that newborns should be fed exclusively with breast milk for the first six months of their lives. Breast milk contains all the necessary nutrients your baby needs for proper growth and development. It also contains antibodies from the mother which help build the baby’s immunity and resistance to infections. Unfortunately, not all lactating moms are able to produce sufficient quantities of breast milk to feed their babies. Breast milk supply can be increased by taking natural foods that help the mother’s body produce greater quantities of breast milk. Fenugreek is one such food that helps increase breast milk production.



What is Fenugreek?

Fenugreek is a herb native to South and Western Asia. The scientific name of fenugreek is Trigonella foenum-graecum and India is the largest producer of fenugreek in the world. The seeds and leaves of fenugreek are commonly used ingredients in South Asian dishes. Fenugreek has several health benefits and contains several nutrients that are beneficial for lactating mothers. The leaves contain phosphorous, potassium, calcium, dietary fibre and iron. The seeds contain vitamins A, C, and B-complex vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, niacin, and pyridoxine.





Is Fenugreek Safe For A Breastfeeding Mother and Her Baby?

Fenugreek is completely safe for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. However, diabetic women, pregnant women, women who are allergic to peanuts and chickpeas, and women with hypothyroidism should check with their doctor before adding fenugreek to their diet.

FENUGREEK FOR BREASTFEEDING MOTHERS

Does Fenugreek Increase Breast Milk Supply?

Fenugreek is a well-known galactagogue, which means this herb increases breast milk production in lactating mothers. Seeds and leaves of fenugreek have been used by lactating mothers to boost breast milk supply for hundreds of years.




How does Fenugreek work for Increased Breast Milk Production?

Fenugreek contains several flavonoids and vitamins which are beneficial for lactating mothers. It also contains phytoestrogen which is similar to the female hormone oestrogen which stimulates the breast milk ducts to grow. Fenugreek contains a compound called diosgenin which increases milk flow in lactating women.

Consuming Fenugreek To Increase Breast Milk

Consuming fenugreek is a natural and safe way to boost breast milk production in breastfeeding moms. Here are various ways in which you can add fenugreek to your diet:





1. Chewing Seeds

You can chew or swallow a teaspoonful of fenugreek seeds daily.

2. Fenugreek Sprouts

Soak fenugreek seeds in water until they soften. Drain the water and keep in a cool, dark place until they sprout. Use the sprouts in salads.




3. Fenugreek Tea

Drinking fenugreek tea for breast milk production helps increase the milk flow in lactating women. To make the tea, add hot water to a teaspoon of seeds and allow it to steep. Drink this with honey.

FENUGREEK TEA

4. Powder

Having fenugreek powder for breast milk production is another way of consuming fenugreek to boost lactation. Dry roast a handful of seeds and grind it to make a powder. Use this powder to flavour dals and curries.





5. Capsules

Fenugreek capsules for breastfeeding moms are sold in most pharmacies. You can buy the fenugreek capsules. However, make sure you consult your doctor to determine the correct dosage.

6. Fenugreek Rice Porridge

Pressure cook 2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds with a cup of rice with water and salt until it turns soft. Consume this porridge to boost breast milk production.




7. Stir Fried Leaves

Thoroughly wash and de-stem fresh fenugreek leaves. Use this in a stir fry along with other vegetables or stir fry the leaves on their own and use it as a side dish.

8. Rotis

Fenugreek leaves are mixed with chappati dough to make rotis or parathas. This is a tasty way to consume fenugreek leaves.





9. Dosas

Fenugreek seeds are ground along with rice and lentils to make dosa batter. The dosas made from this batter contain fenugreek which boosts lactation.

10. Curries

Add fenugreek leaves to sambhar, curries, and dals to make them flavourful and to boost breast milk flow.




FENUGREEK LEAVES IN CURRIES

How Soon Does Fenugreek Increase Breast Milk Supply?

Breastfeeding moms find that their breast milk flow increases within one to three days of starting to consume fenugreek. It has been found that it could take up to 2 weeks to see an increase in breast milk production in some women.

How Long Do You Need To Take Fenugreek?

The fenugreek can be stopped once the breast milk flow has increased to the required level. The flow will be maintained if the baby is fed regularly. It can also be used long-term to increase breast milk supply for mothers who want to pump and store breast milk.





Suggested Fenugreek Dosage

Fenugreek should be consumed in the correct dosage to increase lactation. Make sure you ask your doctor to determine the correct dosage for you. Here are the appropriate dosages:

Item Dosage
With Water 3-4 grams of fenugreek in warm water
Powdered Form ½ to 1 teaspoon or powder or seeds 3 times a day
Tea One cup of tea twice or thrice a day
Capsules 6 capsules amounting to 3500mg

 

Other Health Benefits of Fenugreek Seeds

Apart from the fenugreek’s benefits of breastfeeding, this herb has several other health benefits. Some of them are:




1. Reduces Menstrual Cramps

Fenugreek seeds help in reducing menstrual cramps. Consuming soaked seeds during painful periods can help reduce the pain.

2. Anti-ageing Properties

Fenugreek contains antioxidants that fight signs of ageing in the body.


3. Controls Diabetes

Fenugreek can lower blood sugar in the body and thus helps control diabetes.

4. Lowers Fevers

Fenugreek cools the body and can bring down a high temperature. It is used as a natural medicine to reduce fever.

5. For Sinus Problems

Fenugreek can treat sinus congestions and also soothe sore throats. Gargling with fenugreek tea can soothe the throat pain.

6. Increases Libido

Fenugreek seeds have been known to increase libido, especially in men.


7. Lowers Cholesterol

Consuming fenugreek extract can increase good cholesterols HDL and lower levels of bad cholesterols or LDL in the body.

8. Stimulates Appetite

Fenugreek has been found to increase appetite. It has been recommended as a natural appetite stimulant for people with eating disorders like Anorexia nervosa.

9. For Weight Loss

Fenugreek is good for people trying to lose weight. The cholesterol-reducing properties of fenugreek can also reduce abnormal levels of lipids in the body and thus fight obesity.

FOR WEIGHT LOSS

10. Helps in Digestion and Reduces Inflammation

Fenugreek can help in digestion and in combating gastrointestinal issues. Fenugreek is a herbal diuretic and is also used to treat dysentery, stomach ulcers and gastritis. Fenugreek also reduces inflammation in the body. It is therefore helpful to reduce inflammation in people suffering from mouth ulcers, boils, cough, tuberculosis, tissue infections, kidney problems, and even cancer.


Side Effects of Fenugreek

Though fenugreek has a great number of health benefits, excessive consumption can cause problems in both the mother and the baby.

1. For Breastfeeding Mother

The mother’s breast milk and urine may smell like maple syrup. People who are allergic to chickpeas and peanuts may be allergic to fenugreek also. It can cause allergic reactions like hives, swollen tongue and throat, and breathing problems. Diabetics should use it with caution as it can cause blood sugar levels to drop drastically. It could cause runny stools in some people. It is not safe for pregnant women as it can trigger uterine contractions and cause a miscarriage or preterm delivery. Eating more than 100 g of fenugreek seeds in a day can give you stomach cramps.

2. For Breastfed Baby

Some babies may have runny stools. It can cause some babies to be fussy because of the upset stomach and gas.

Precautions To Be Taken While Using Fenugreek To Increase Breast Milk Production

Here are the precautions to take while using fenugreek to boost breast milk production:


  • Avoid excessive consumption as it can cause stomach pain.
  • Women allergic to peanuts and chickpeas could also be allergic to fenugreek. So, check with your doctor before adding it to your diet.

CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR

  • Avoid fenugreek if you suffer from hypothyroidism.
  • Diabetic mothers should use it with caution as it can rapidly lower blood sugar levels and cause hypoglycaemia.

Does Fenugreek Work For Every Breastfeeding Woman?

Fenugreek has been found to increase breast milk production in most women and doctors regularly recommend fenugreek capsules for lactating moms. However, fenugreek may not work for every woman. There are some women who reported that they did not see a change in breast milk production levels after taking fenugreek capsules. However, low breast milk production in mom could be due to various reasons such as low nutrition, stress, hormonal imbalance, and improper latching of breastfeeding baby. If these problems are addressed, the breast milk supply could increase after taking fenugreek supplements.

Fenugreek has been used in Asian cultures for ages to improve breast milk production in lactating mothers. Fenugreek can cause the mother’s milk, sweat and urine to smell like maple syrup. It also passes through the breast milk into the baby and can make the baby’s sweat and urine also smell like maple syrup. However, fenugreek has a great number of health benefits apart from increasing lactation. It has been used both as a flavouring agent and as the main ingredient in many South-Asian cuisines. It is beneficial for lactating mothers to include fenugreek in their diet after checking with their doctor.

Also Read: Caffeine during Breastfeeding