You probably already know that certain foods and herbs can increase milk supply. Oatmeal, fenugreek* and blessed thistle* and many others all have a reputation for helping mothers overflow with milk.
But did you know that some foods can actually decrease milk production? If you’re struggling with low milk supply, avoid ingesting large quantities of the following foods:
Nibbling on a sprig of parsley after a meal will not harm your supply. You may wish to avoid dishes with large amounts of parsley, however, if you are breastfeeding. One dish to avoid in the immediate postpartum period is tabouleh. Once your supply is established, an occasional plate of tabouleh is probably OK.
Peppermint and spearmint can adversely affect milk supply. Drinking an occasional cup of peppermint tea should not be a problem. Altoids and other candies made from peppermint oil are a different story. Mothers who enjoy many of these candies each day have noticed a drop in milk production.
Sage and oregano can negatively impact milk production. Sage tea is a common remedy for over-production.
Topical cabbage leaves can work wonders to relieve breast engorgement, but don’t over-do it! Applying cabbage more than once or twice a day can decrease your milk supply. Topical creams made from cabbage extract can have the same effect.
Have you ever heard this? “Have a beer! It will help you relax and make your milk come in.” It is absolutely false! In fact, alcohol inhibits your milk ejection (let down) reflex. This makes it harder for baby to get your milk. Over time, this can decrease your milk supply. Is an occasional drink ok? Yes! Just be sure to have that drink after you have fed your baby.
Please seek the advice of a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC), naturopath or certified herbalist before experimenting with ANY herbs to help with milk supply issues. Herbs are medicines and many have potential side effects and even can cause severe allergic reactions. In addition, it is important to understand the history and underlying cause of your particular situation in order for any treatment to be effective.
Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com