Fenugreek is an herb used in curry and Asian dishes to give a maple syrup flavor to foods and it is used as an herbal medication. For the purpose of increasing your milk supply, purchase it in capsule form. The milligrams in each capsule will vary (usually 500-600mg). Most moms start by taking 3 capsules 3 times a day (9 capsules per day). You should see an increase in your supply within 24-72 hours. If not, you can increase the amount of Fenugreek taken to a maximum of 16 capsules per day. If your urine and sweat smell like maple syrup, then you know you are taking enough (you should smell like a pancake!). Other common side effects of this herb are increased perspiration and looser stools for mom & baby. Once your milk supply increases to what your infant needs, continue to take the herb for up to one week and then discontinue. If you see your supply decrease once again, you can restart the Fenugreek. It can be taken continuously or intermittently as needed.
Some precautions: Do not use during pregnancy – it can cause uterine contractions and cause a miscarriage. If you have hypoglycemia or diabetes, use this herb with caution – it can lower blood sugars. Do not use this if you are allergic to peanuts or chickpeas, they are from the same family. In my current practice, we’ve only seen an allergic reaction to this herb from 4 infants and 2 moms (one was an asthmatic). Symptoms of an allergic reaction to this herb would include hives, facial swelling, forceful vomiting, or difficulty breathing or swallowing. If any of these symptoms occur, stop the herb and immediately seek care.
You can use Fenugreek alone or if only seeing some improvement, you can add Blessed Thistle to augment the Fenugreek. Also start Blessed Thistle at 3 capsules 3 times per day, increasing to a maximum of 12 capsules per day. A possible Blessed Thistle side effect is gastrointestinal upset.
Fenugreek commonly is one of many ingredients in herbal supplements to increase milk supply. More Milk Plus is a product commonly used – you can purchase this product on line at Mother Love or at many hospitals, natural food stores & compounding pharmacies.
You can purchase these Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle herbs at most health food stores and online. The herbal market is not regulated in the United States, therefore, use a quality product from a reputable manufacturer. You can purchase a yearly subscription to a site like Consumer Lab to check the quality of the products you are using. Fenugreek and other herbs can help increase supply.