Galactogoues: Herbal foods in mother’s diet to enhance lactation

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Author: Gauri Kshirsagar



A galactagogue, is a substance that promotes lactation in humans and other animals. It may be synthetic, plant-derived, or endogenous. I will be concentrating more on the herbal or plant derived galactogogues which have been traditionally used in many cultures, tribes and communities to produce a good milk supply. Not only these herbs have lesser side effects, also they can be easily incorporated in the daily Indian meals. I will also upload some recipes soon which are high on calories and also have galactogogues, which lactating mothers can savor.

Following is a lis of Herbal galactogogues which are traditionally used by lactating mothers in India:

  1. Fenugreek seeds (मेथी) : This is the most commonly used in lactation. Fenugreek contains phytoestrogens , chemicals similar to estrogen . Diosgenin , a key compound in it has been proven to increase breast milk production. It can be taken in the form of dosas / tea / as it is gulped with water. Additionally you can have Methi ki sabji or parathas and even pulaoSlide1
  2. Shatavari Powder/ Shatavari Kalp (Asparagus racemosus): Available in all medical stores, this powder can be mixed with milk or any other drink.Slide2
  3. Jivanti (Leptadenia Reticulata). This is available in powdered form in combination with ShatavariSlide3
  4. Dill (दिल, शेंपू): Green leafy vegetable, very commonly available.
  5. Coriander, Cilantro: Coriander leaves are a common addition in most of Indian foods
  6. Moringa leaves / drumstick leaves: These are given in the form of stir fry/ curry is given to new moms in Kerala. It helps in improving breast milk production.
  7. Spinach: Palak Soup or Spinach soup is super healthy and contains photo-oestrogen a plant based chemical similar to estrogen (hormone responsible for milk production in women).Slide5
  8. Oats/ Oatmeal: Oats are rich in fiber and also helps in milk production . Oats can be made a part of new mom’s diet everyday. Include oats in your diet by eating oatmeal cookies, cereals, granola bars, or by mixing roasted oats in fruit smoothies.
  9. Broken Wheat (Dalia): A traditional dish mostly given to nursing moms in North India, that helps in improving the quantity of milk. Simply roast dalia in ghee, add a cup of milk and bring it to boil. Add sugar and a pinch of salt. Also make sure to try the namkeen dalia upma in case you need a break from the sweet version
  10. Brown Rice: If you are a rice eater have brown rice instead. It’s a good idea to skip the white rice while breastfeeding. Brown rice has the effect to stimulate the milk producing hormones in women. Brown rice pulao, brown rice idlis, brown rice dosas. Think and substitute brown rice any where you use white rice.Slide7
  11. Garlic: Garlic in the form of garlic rice , garlic chutney ,roasted garlic , garlic rasam, garlis sauteed in gingelly oil all help to stimulate breast milk production. Some other ways to have garlic:
    1. Garlic cooked in milk – Boil or cook 3-4 cloves of garlic in milk and drink it warm.
    2. Stir Fried Garlic – You can stir fry 3-4 cloves of garlic in sesame seed oil and have it.
  12. Sesame seeds (तिल): These tiny seeds are powerful ingredients to increase milk supply. So why not stock up on those famous Maganlal Chikkis or make some til gud chikkis at home if your are breastfeeding.Slide6
  13. Carom seeds (ओवा): Can be chewed as a whole and also can be used in various indian dishes like curry and sabzi
  14. Fennel seeds (सौंफ के बीज, बडीशेप):Fennel seeds aids in digestion and prevents colic in babies. Some ways to have fennel seeds are: 
    1. Fennel water – Boil a tsp of fennel seeds in a cup of water for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let it steep for 5 minutes. Filter it and drink it warm.
    2. Fennel tea -You can also make fennel tea with a tsp of fennel powder. Boil a cup of water with a tsp of fennel powder. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Then strain the mixture, add sugar or honey to taste and drink it warm. It can be had twice a day.
    3. You can chew a few fennel seeds after a meal, add a little fennel powder to your curries, gravy etc.Slide4
  15. Tapioca root /Sabudana: Some mothers swear by tapioca root to increase lactation. Sabudana (sago) pearls (make from tapioca root) can also be taken, if you cannot find tapioca root. Ways to include tapioca in your diet are:
    1. Steamed tapioca puttu –  (Wash, peel the skin and grate tapioca. Steam it, add freshly grated coconut and jaggery)
    2. Tapioca Stir fry
    3. Sabudana Khichdi
    4. Tapioca PuddingSlide11

Some commercially available lactation foods:

  1. LactanciaTM : It is available in powder form and contains combination of vitamins and minerals with galactogoues like shatavari and Jivanti. It very benefiacial to the nursing mother since not only helps in production of milk but is also high on calories. Corona Remedies manufactures Lactancia Powder. 2 scoops of lactancia powder in 200ml milk is recommended daily. *Please consult your physician before consumption. Slide9
  2. There are variety of packaged foods from cookies to smothie milk which a mother can relish after delivery. You can also order them online.Slide10

Prescription drugs are sometimes prescribed in case of  failure of lactation, they are as follows:

These drugs are only taken under the guidance of a medical practitioner. Many women perceive that their milk production is inadequate and it is the commonest reported reason given for cessation of breastfeeding earlier than the mother had intended. Medication should not be advocated as a solution to unfounded concerns or where additional support and encouragement as well as consistency of information are the prime need. Expert assessment of the latch and the effectiveness of feeding is essential.

  1. Metoclopramide: This drug is used as an anti-nauseant. Clinical studies have shown that it increases prolactin levels and consequentially milk supply at a dose of 10milligrammes three times daily. However it can produce extra-pyramidal side effects including tremor and slow, shuffling movements as well as precipitating depression
  2. Domperidone : This drug is used to speed gastric emptying and is used for vomiting. It is available as an over the counter medicine to treat bloating after meals. The normal dose is 10milligrammes three times a day. Care should be taken if mother or chid have a history of cardiac problems or are on interacting medication. Reported side effects are unusual but can include headache, diarrhoea, mood swings and feeling dizzy.

*Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. Please do ‘★ LIKE’ the post if you found it to be useful.Your comments, suggestions, criticism and all opinions are very much appreciated. Please do write your queries in the Reply/comments section and I will try to get back to you asap.

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