My recent adventure with nursing my newborn son has been a first class education for me–not only as a mother and woman, but also as an herbalist and health care provider. I entered into the world of my newborn with high hopes and sheer will to nourish him with what nature had intended–my breastmilk.
I have girlfriends for whom breast feeding came completely natural- by this I mean they had no issues, needed no instruction and really never experienced any pain. Good for them! I have also had girlfriends who struggled furiously at the beginning only to end up with severe mastitis and a lack of desire to continue. For me, this time around, I found it to be a mostly intuitive experience that needed some professional tweaking (so to speak).
Archer and I worked very hard in those first few weeks and yet he continued to remain the same weight. After many furious feeding marathons and quite a few visits to the pediatrician, I blended some herbs for a yummy lactogenic tea, I encapsulated some organic Fenugreek seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum) , I drank green leafy drinks daily and I visited a wonderful Lactation Consultant at Littleton Hospital–where I delivered– named Mary. She was so helpful!
I DEFINITELY recommend Fenugreek seed capsules, rather than tea or tincture, for every nursing mother simply for ease of use. I took 3 size O caps 3 times a day for more than a month and found my breast milk supply to increase and maintain after discontinuing to take it. I also keep some on hand for days that I feel I could use a bit of increase.
Each O capsule contains roughly 680 mg of material= 6120 mg (5000 mg is a teaspoon).
From what I can find in my plethora of resources, the mode of action is that it encourages lactation by stimulating breast tissue to grow. In addition, it slows the rate of break down in the liver of estrogen, allowing levels to be a bit higher to support lactation. It both promotes, and supports lactation.
Fenugreek has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicineto decrease Vata and Kapha and increase Pitta– warm the body. It is said to affect plasma, blood, marrow and nerve tissues and reproductive tissues (The Yoga of Herbs, Lad and Frawley). It is contraindicated in pregnancy–so don’t take it in anticipation of nursing, wait until post-partum!
Fenugreek is a nursing Mother’s best-friend. If you have a breast-pump available, add in several sessions of pumping in between feedings or when the little one is sleeping to multiply its effect as well as its nice to SEE that you are succeeding.
So with all of the minor changes, his latch improved, my confidence soared and my stress levels dropped dramatically. We were in the milk-making business! I now nurse him with ease and am so proud and happy that I did not give up. I perservered. I pumped, nursed and nursed some more and although it was truly challenging at times, it was all worth it. Fenugreek Seed was such a simple thing that I could do for myself, and you can too!
One side effect– you smell like maple syrup! So to all you nursing mamas out there, don’t give up! Feed the masses!
Contact me with any questions/concerns, I would love to help! Trysta@IntegrativeHerbalism.com
Any information contained in this website is not intended as medical advice nor to diagnose and/or treat any illness. If you have any concerns about this information, please contact your provider and/or certified Herbalist.