Are you struggling with milk supply issues? Read on to find out how fenugreek can help you.

Fenugreek for Breastfeeding

What is Fenugreek?

Fenugreek is a Mediterranean plant which produces small brown seeds. The seeds have a really distinctive curry smell to them. Historically, it has been use as a herbal remedy for many ailments.

What are the Benefits of Fenugreek?

Fenugreek has been used by breastfeeding women for hundreds of years to increase milk supply. The seeds contain phytoestogens which mimic your female hormone, oestrogen. Your milk supply will increase within 24-72 hours of taking a fenugreek supplement.

Will Fenugreek work for me?

It is important that you have explored all options to increase your breast milk supply. Try increasing feeds, on demand nursing, skin to skin, expressing. If your milk supply is still low, fenugreek can be a natural option before starting medical treatments such as domperidone. Fenugreek will not increase your milk supply if you do not already regularly empty the milk from your breasts. If you are having issues with this speak to your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding support worker for advice.

Is Fenugreek safe for me?

Fenugreek has been found to be safe to use for breastfeeding mothers (not during pregnancy). It is not suitable if you have certain conditions including:

  • Nut Allergies – Fenugreek is from the same plant family as peanuts and chickpeas, therefore it is best to avoid if you have a sensitivity or allergy to these.
  • Diabetics – As fenugreek is known to lower blood glucose levels, it is not recommend if you are diabetic. It also slows the absorption of sugar during digestion and may interfere with insulin regimes if you are insulin dependent.
  • Anaemia – Fenugreek may interfere with the absorption of iron and should be avoided if you are symptomatic of anaemia. Even if you do not feel anaemic, it is best to avoid fenugreek if you had a large blood loss at delivery.
  • History of Thrombosis – Fenugreek may interfere with blot clotting times by slowing them down. Do not use fenugreek if you are on any anti-coagulant medication such as heparin, warfarin or fragmin. Taking both together can leave you to susceptible to bruising and bleeding.
  • Thyroid Disorder – If you take medication for a thyroid condition then it is best to avoid fenugreek as it may interfere with hormone balances your body.

If you are unsure if fenugreek is safe for you to take, please consult with your doctor before hand.

Possible Side Effects of Fenugreek include:

  • Urine and Sweat smell like maple syrup
  • Diahorrea or stomach upset when used in large doses (in both mums and babies)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in mums

How do I use Fenugreek?

Fenugreek Capsules

You can take fenugreek as a herbal pill. You can buy them in large amounts for around £5-£10. Take the tablets until you notice an increase in your supply. Reduce the dose once your milk supply is satisfactory. To keep you supply high you will need to regularly empty the breasts by nursing or expressing by hand or with a breast pump. Lactation consultants will often recommend the capsules if you are struggling with supply issues.

Fenugreek Tea

You can also buy fenugreek teas. They have a very distinct aftertaste which is more of an acquired taste. The tea is also not as effective as taking the capsule form. This tea will help you increase your supply in the evening, particularly if you struggle to keep up your fluid intake.

Fenugreek Seeds

If the tablets or teas do not appeal to you then you can try usingfenugreek seeds in your diet. Using the seeds in cooked recipes such as curry may remove some of the nutritional benefits. You can eat the seeds uncooked and use to top salads, or mixed with some plain yoghurt to get your daily dose.

How much should Fenugreek I use?

  • The capsules will come in wither 580mg or 610mg form. We recommend using 2-3 of the 610mg three times daily for maximum effect.
  • If using the tea, drink one cup 2-3 times daily.
  • If using the seeds 1tsp daily is sufficient to produce and effect on your supply.

Where can I buy Fenugreek?

You should find Fenugreek for sale at health shops such as Holland and Barrett. If you prefer to shop online try Amazon for capsules, teas or seeds for food.

Have you used fenugreek to increase your supply? Let us know if it worked or not for you.

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Fenugreek For Breastfeeding - Beginners Guide