Lactation Tea – Is It Really Effective?
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Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for newborns, and new mothers do everything possible to ensure that their milk supply is sufficient. But let’s face it – breastfeeding is hard and there will be days when your breast milk supply won’t be as hearty as you would want it to be. You don’t need to lose hope though, as there are many ways to boost lactation. One such product that is gaining popularity among nursing moms is lactation tea. Teas for lactation are considered to be a solution for boosting the production of milk. But what is a lactation tea and is it safe? Find out before you begin drinking it.
What is Lactation Tea?
Lactation tea is a combination of various herbs that can be consumed during the postpartum period and can be taken several times a day. It is touted as a supplement for increasing the supply of breast milk. Though, more research is needed in this area, as the scientific evidence on the tea is not very clear. There is ample anecdotal evidence from various mothers claiming that lactation tea has led to an increase in their milk supply.
Does It Really Help With Milk Supply?
Everyone probably has a friend or a neighbour who has positive reviews on lactation tea. However, there are not enough medical studies conducted to show the effectiveness of the tea. Since they are considered to be supplements, they are not regulated by the FDA and do not have proven results.
Even if the herbs present in the tea are not very effective at increasing milk production, drinking extra liquid throughout the day can help keep the body hydrated and hydration is the key to better milk supply. Moreover, taking time to care for your own body can release certain calming hormones that are proven to be good for milk production.
Consuming lactation tea in moderation is fine but overdoing it can cause oversupply, engorgement and mastitis related issues. So, ensure you consult your doctor before consuming it.
Is Lactation Tea Safe for the Mother and Baby?
The effects of the herbal products and herbs used in the lactation tea are not clear, due to a lack of research on the product. Some herbs might be safe but all possible effects of different herbs are not known, especially on women going through the breastfeeding and pregnancy phase.
Therefore, it is always best to talk to your doctor about lactation tea or any herbal-based products before you start consuming herbal tea to boost your breast milk supply. If you’re planning on consuming herbal blends, you should make sure to avoid certain herbs that are considered unsafe for the mother and the baby while breastfeeding. It is also important to check with the doctor for the up-to-date list of unsafe and safe herbs that can be consumed by breastfeeding mothers.
Ingredients Used for Preparing Lactation Tea
Some of the common herbs found in every lactation tea are:
Fenugreek is a common herb used in nursing teas. Limited studies on this herb show that it helps with milk production. But more studies are needed to confirm if fenugreek and fenugreek tea are completely safe and help with milk production. Note: This herb is strictly avoided during pregnancy as it is known to cause uterine contractions. The herb may also be unsafe for women with hormone-sensitive cancers as the herb might act like estrogen.
Fennel is known to increase milk volume but then there are no studies to prove that fennel or fennel tea may help with milk supply.
3. Blessed Thistle
Commonly used for digestive problems, blessed thistle is also a part of lactation tea. But again there’s not enough data to prove this herb’s usefulness in increasing milk production.
4. Stinging Nettle
This herb is full of antioxidants and nutrients and is thought to lower blood pressure and inflammation. Although pregnant women should not eat stinging nettle, there are anecdotal stories about the ability of the herb to increase milk production. However, like all the other herbs, this one lacks research too.
Moringa has been around for many years and is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties but the herb lacks research on humans. Though side effects are less, it is always better to check with your doctor to see if it is good for you and your baby.
6. Milk Thistle
This is another herb that is thought to be good for the brain, bones, and liver. Yet again, there’s not enough research to prove the efficacy of this herb. And due to the lack of proper information on the side effects, pregnant women are generally advised to avoid consumption of this herb.
7. Red Raspberry Leaf
Rich in magnesium and Vitamin B, this herb is another ingredient of the tea and is believed to increase milk production.
8. Goat’s Rue
Goat’s rue is said to be good for the adrenal gland, liver, and digestion in addition to its potential benefits in lactation. Although studies are small, it is thought to be a well-tolerated herb.
When to Start Drinking Lactation Tea
The best time to start drinking tea is after a couple of weeks of the baby’s birth because a few herbs might have other effects on the body of nursing mothers. Normally, the milk supply of a mother is never enough for a baby, and increasing feeding can be an easy and quick solution to low milk supply. If you feel that the baby is not getting enough milk and increasing feeding time is not working, then you could try the herbal tea or other lactation support solutions.
How to Consume Lactation Tea
In general, herbal tea for lactation support is brewed like how you would brew regular teas, but it is best to follow specific instructions that come with the product. Just like other teas, lactation teas can also be brewed as a larger batch or one cup at a time.
It can be iced, sweetened, and have added flavours too. It is suggested to consume the tea somewhere between 1 and 3 cups per day, but you must check with your doctor before you down 3 cups of lactation tea.
Homemade Lactation Tea Recipe
You will need an airtight container along with a teapot, or tea infuser ball to make this tea. You will get most of these ingredients in natural health food stores or online.
- Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 cup
- Dried nettle leaves – 1/2 cup
- Dried red raspberry leaves – 1/2 cup
- Fennel seeds – 1/4 cup
- Dried lemon verbena – 1/2 cup
- Dried blessed thistle – 1/4 cup
- Create a tea blend by mixing all these ingredients and store the blend in an airtight container until it is ready to use.
- For every cup of water, take out 1 teaspoon of the blend. For making one cup, use an individual tea bag or a tea infuser ball. If you are using a teapot, measure out the blends according to the number of cups of water you are planning to use.
- Take about 1.5 cups of water in a teapot and let it boil. Add 1 tsp of mixed herbs and let the herbs infuse in the water, allowing the tea to steep for 5 minutes. Remove the infuser or tea bag and drink the tea! For optimal effect, you can consume three cups of tea per day.
It is always best to make a bulk batch of the lactation tea blend and store it in an airtight container and use as and when required. The flavour of the organic lactation tea is sweet and spicy and herbaceous but if you do not like the taste, you could drink it with a lemon wedge or apple juice.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful and unique experience and for mothers who have lower milk production, there are many options to try, including lactation teas. Speak to your doctor about how much you should lactation tea you should drink, overdoing it may cause issues like mastitis, oversupply, and more. Though it may not be the perfect solution for increasing lactation, as long as you are comfortable with it, you will get extra nutrients, hydration, and happiness combining lactation teas and cookies. However, make sure you avoid ingredients that you are allergic to.