Every year in the United States, around 3 million mothers start their breastfeeding journey. Despite best intentions, many end up stopping for one reason or another. One of the leading causes is what health care professionals sometimes term “insufficient milk supply.” It has been estimated that as many as 10% of all mothers experience this, and it It can leave you feeling anxious, frustrated and upset. However, depending on the cause, this can often times be a manageable condition.

One of the less complex remedies that has shown positive results for some mothers is Fenugreek. This is a an herb that can be used for everything from cooking to brewing tea (though I’ve been told this is can be bitter!). It’s used in many Indian dishes, and is has been common in Egyptian, Persian and Turkish cuisine for generations. These days, it can also be found in the form of a pill marketed to increase milk supply.

While studies have been done, none have been completely conclusive on the positive effects of Fenugreek. Indeed, the underlying reason that Fenugreek could increase milk supply is not known. There are theories that it contains hormone precursors or that it somehow stimulates sweat production (breasts are modified sweat glands!).

Many mothers worry about taking any kind of herbal supplement. It’s always important to understand the risks associated with what we put in our bodies. Fenugreek is generally considered safe for nursing mothers in moderation by the FDA. However, there are absolutely a few exceptions: Fenugreek should never be taken by pregnant mothers as it can cause uterine contractions. Diabetics should also avoid Fenugreek as it can lower glucose levels. You should always consult your doctor/healthcare professional when considering any kind of supplement.

Whatever you decide, remember the number one rule: Feed the Baby! Regardless any issues you face, your baby needs to get an adequate amount of sustenance to support a healthy weight gain. Lactation Consultants use a very precise scale before and after feedings to make sure your baby is getting enough milk and help you set up a plan to make sure both mother and baby are healthy and happy!