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

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

Last Updated on

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 can produce sufficient quantities of breast milk to feed their babies. However, mothers can consume some foods that can help increase the supply of breast milk. Fenugreek is one such food that helps increase breast milk production.

What Is Fenugreek?

Fenugreek is a herb native to western Asia, India, northern regions of Africa, and southeastern Europe. Its scientific name of fenugreek is Trigonella foenum-graecum. India is the largest producer of fenugreek in the world. The seeds and leaves of fenugreek are commonly used ingredients in many South Asian dishes. Fenugreek is packed with nutrition and has several health benefits, especially for lactating mothers.

Let’s take a look at the nutrition value in fenugreek.

Fenugreek Nutrition Value

Fenugreek leaves contain most of the nutrients essential for nursing mothers. Here’s how much nutrition 100 grams of fenugreek has:

  • Energy – 323 kcal
  • Carbohydrates – 58 grams
  • Protein – 23 grams
  • Cholesterol – 0 mg
  • Dietary fibre – 24.6 grams
  • Fat – 6.41 grams
  • Folates – 14% of Daily Value
  • Niacin – 7% of Daily Value
  • Robiflavin – 28% of Daily Value
  • Thiamin – 27% of Daily Value
  • Vitamin A – 2% of Daily Value
  • Vitamin C – 5% of Daily Value
  • Sodium – 67 mg
  • Potassium – 770 mg
  • Calcium – 176 mg
  • Copper – 1.11 mg
  • Iron – 33.53 mg
  • Magnesium – 191 mg
  • Phosphorous – 296 mg
  • Zinc – 2.50 mg

Source – https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/fenugreek-seeds.html

In the rest of the article, we have addressed some common questions new mothers may have about eating fenugreek while breastfeeding.

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 natural galactagogue, which means the 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 Help Increase 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 also 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 eat a teaspoonful of soaked fenugreek seeds daily. The seeds should be soaked at least for 3 to 4 hours to make them soft and chewable. Some also prefer drinking the water the seeds were soaked in.

2. Fenugreek Sprouts

Soak fenugreek seeds in lukewarm water until they soften. Drain the water and keep the seeds in a sieve, and in a warm, dark place until they sprout. You can use these sprouts in salads or eat them as they are.

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. You can also use this powder to flavour dals and curries.

5. Capsules

Fenugreek capsules for breastfeeding moms are sold in most pharmacies; however, make sure you consult your doctor to determine the correct dosage before you buy any.

6. Fenugreek Rice Porridge

Pressure cook 2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds with a cup of rice, 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 them as a herb in stir-fried vegetables. You may also stir-fry just the leaves with traditional mustard seed and onion tempering, and consume it as a side dish.

8. Rotis

Fenugreek leaves can be mixed with wholewheat and made into a dough to make rotis or parathas. This is a tasty way to consume fenugreek leaves.

9. Dosas

Fenugreek seeds can be ground along with rice and lentils to make dosa batter. Dosas made from this batter can be a great breakfast recipe for lactating mothers.

10. Curries

Add fenugreek leaves to sambhar, curries, and dals to make them flavourful and healthy too.

FENUGREEK LEAVES IN CURRIES

How Soon Does Fenugreek Increase Breast Milk Supply?

Many breastfeeding moms find that their breast milk flow increases within one to three days of starting to consume fenugreek; however, in some women, it could take up to 2 weeks to see a considerable increase.

How Long Do You Need to Consume Fenugreek?

You may stop or reduce the consumption of fenugreek 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.

Let’s take a look at the quantity of fenugreek you can consume.

Suggested Fenugreek Dosage

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

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

 

If you are wondering if fenugreek seeds will only increase lactation in nursing moms, the next section will answer all your questions.

Other Health Benefits of Fenugreek Seeds

Apart from the increasing breast milk in nursing mothers, fenugreek has several other health benefits. Some of them are:

1. Reduces Menstrual Cramps

Fenugreek seeds help in reducing menstrual cramps. Consuming soaked seeds during periods can help reduce 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 help control diabetes.

4. Lowers Fevers

Fenugreek cools the body and can bring down a fever. 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 throat pain.

6. Increases Libido

Fenugreek seeds have been known to increase libido, especially in men, by boosting the levels of testosterone.

7. Lowers Cholesterol

Consuming fenugreek extract can increase good cholesterols (HDL) and lower levels of bad cholesterols (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.

So, fenugreek seeds and leaves are a healthy addition to your diet and can benefit your baby too. But, you must also know that it could cause some side effects.

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. Here are a few side effects fenugreek you must know to avoid them:

  • The mother’s breast milk and urine may smell like maple syrup.  This won’t create a problem as such for the mother or the baby, but the information helps avoid surprises.
  • 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. If you are allergic to fenugreek, it is better to avoid it completely and seek an alternative way to boost lactation.
  • Diabetics should eat it with caution as excessive fenugreek consumption 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 also.
  • Some babies may have runny stools, an upset stomach and bloating when the mother starts including fenugreek in her post-pregnancy diet.

Now that you know the side effects, let’s also take a look at some precautionary measures you must take while eating fenugreek while you are nursing.

Precautions to Take While Eating Fenugreek to Increase Breast Milk Production

Here are some precautions you need to take while consuming fenugreek to boost the production of breast milk:

  • Avoid excessive consumption as it can cause stomach pain or lead to one of the side effects mentioned above, including hypoglycaemia which occurs due to a sudden drop in the blood sugar level.
  • Ensure you are not allergic to fenugreek.
  • If you are not allergic, you must still check with your doctor before including it into your post-pregnancy diet.

CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR

  • Avoid fenugreek if you suffer from hypothyroidism because it can lower the thyroid hormone T3.

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, it may not work for every woman. There are some women who reported that they did not see a change in the breast milk production levels after consuming fenugreek. That being said, low breast milk production in new mothers could be due to various reasons such as low nutrition, stress, hormonal imbalance, and improper latching of the newborn baby. If these problems are addressed, the breast milk supply could increase after consuming fenugreek in its natural form or after taking fenugreek supplements.

Fenugreek has been used in Asian cultures for ages to improve breast milk production in lactating mothers. Although it can cause the mother’s milk, sweat and urine to smell like maple syrup, and the baby’s too, as the nutrients are passed down to the baby through breastfeeding, it has a great number of health benefits apart from increasing lactation.  You can include this ingredient in its natural form to add flavour to your foods, and also as the main ingredient. It is highly beneficial for lactating mothers; however, include fenugreek in your diet only after checking with your doctor/ dietician.

References:

Also Read: Caffeine during Breastfeeding