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Thread: Should everyone use galactogogues?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Should everyone use galactogogues?

    I have no reason to believe I have low supply, but my bfed babies do tend to be on the small side. Should everyone just try fenugreek, etc., to try to make the most milk possible, or is it just not necessary unless there are warning signs that your baby is not getting enough?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Austin, TX

    Default Re: Should everyone use galactogogues?

    I hope there's an LC -- or a really experienced nursing mama -- who will provide a technical answer for you. But my sense (based purely on my own personal experience) is that no, not everyone should take galactagogues "just because." "Most milk possible" does not mean "best milk possible" or "best growth possible." If you don't have low supply, and your babies are growing/developing/hitting milestones, then I'd worry a supply-boosting supplement could throw out of balance the natural supply-demand equilibrium that you and baby have developed.

    Personally, my body was very sensitive to fenegreek. I took it only sporadically, to get me through illnesses and baby's growth spurts, and I felt (and saw, when pumping) a noticeable and fast acting increase in production. If a nursing mom was prone to oversupply issues (I read one estimate that as many as one-third are), then taking a galactagogue "just because" could have a definite negative outcome. That said, one could argue that it's probably a good idea to eat healthy foods that support lactation (as opposed to taking supplements).

    As for your babies "being on the small side" -- that really doesn't correlate to milk supply, to my knowledge. Obviously genetics is probably the most significant predictor. (My son is 10th-25th percentile and I have an ample supply ... my husband and I are just small people, so I don't think the NBA is in my LO's future.) What's important is that they are consistent on their own individual growth curve (more or less).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Should everyone use galactogogues?

    Most mothers make plenty of milk for their babies without ever touching galactagogues. In fact, many make more than enough. In some cases, a mother makes so much milk, THAT causes breastfeeding issues.

    And a baby being on the "small side" does not mean the baby needs more milk. People normally come in many sizes and normal growth rates vary. A baby would have to be quite malnourished to actually grow dramatically differently than what genetics dictate. All more milk over and above “enough” milk might do is increase the weight gain rate-how fast a baby gains- but even that would simply level off at some point and the child will grow to whatever size genetics dictate.

    Either a baby gets enough milk to be healthy and grow normally or they do not, and if they do not, it only might be because the mom does not make enough milk. It also might be because the baby does not nurse well enough, or often enough. OR some combination of these.

    Poor weight gain when a baby is geting plenty of milk may be due to some nutrient malabsorption problem.

    If the issue IS truly, inadequate milk production, there are other ways to try to increase milk production that do not involve galactagogues.

    All a galactagogue does, on its best day, is help SOME mothers make more milk. This is a wonderful thing, of course. It is good we have several types of galactagogues for when they are needed. But most often, they are NOT needed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Should everyone use galactogogues?

    "Most milk possible" does not mean "best milk possible" or "best growth possible."
    And by extension, "bigger baby" is not the same as "healthier baby"! I know it's tough when you're getting comments from your pediatrician/family/friends/strangers on the street- "Oh, she/he is so tiny! Are you, you know, feeding him/her enough?" But it all switches around later in childhood. All of a sudden, you get congratulated on having a smaller or slenderer child, because you have somehow managed to preserve him/her from the epidemic of childhood obesity!

    I had oversupply with baby number 2, and I am so glad I stayed away from galactogogues! My poor LO was already struggling with fast letdowns and having bloody poops due to lactose overload- I can't imagine that more milk would have improved that situation!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Default Re: Should everyone use galactogogues?

    Your baby would not necessarily take in more milk just because it was there. Breastfed babies are remarkably efficient at self-regulating. Having too much milk sitting around in your breasts would put you at a higher risk of plugged ducts and mastitis.
    Ds was incredibly fussy at the breast in the early months when I had oversupply. Every single nursing session was a battle because he hated the fast flow. And I was super tender from the engorgement. Even now at two years old my left nipple gets sore from the fullness if he for some odd reason is distracted enough to go more than four hours between sessions.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Default Re: Should everyone use galactogogues?

    Galactogogues are pharmaceutical aids that are beneficial when medically necessary. They aren't a panacea or a substitute for good feeding technique (on demand, proper latch, deep drinking sounds). Every technique- and lifestyle-based option should be exhausted, and a thorough medical history taken to rule out possible causes of trouble, before mothers turn to galactogogues.

    That said, I am one mother who has benefited tremendously from taking domperidone. I wouldn't be able to nurse my nearly 2-year-old son upwards if a dozen times a day without pharmaceutical support. I had multiple consultations with an IBCLC and Dr. Newman, and our focus was to optimize technique before resorting to a galactogogue. I had experienced a maelstrom of a year-- deaths, near divorce, financial stress, professional upheaval-- and the emotional shock caused late term low milk supply after my having maintained an abundant supply for nearly a year. It happens but, thankfully for others, my case was rare and unrepresentative of the needs of the vast majority of breastfeeding mothers.

    Through the course of time, women's bodies have evolved the ability to nourish their children effectively. For the average nursing dyad, experienced mother-to-mother support will provide you with the toolkit necessary to support a strong breastfeeding relationship until child led weaning. Isn't nature beautiful?

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