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Breastfeeding or lactation is the primary source of nourishment for the newborn and it also helps to create a strong emotional bond between the mother and child . The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant's life and then continuing breastfeeding along with introducing nutritious foods for up two years or beyond .
While it can be a joyful and satisfying experience for breastfeeding mothers to breastfeed their newborn, breastfeeding can be a concern if you can't produce sufficient amounts of breast milk to feed your baby. Many women have frequently reported that insufficient breast milk supply was the main reason to discontinue breastfeeding  .
However, there are many foods that are considered galactagogues that can help boost breast milk production and one of them is fenugreek seeds. Yes, fenugreek seeds have been used for centuries by breastfeeding women to increase breast milk supply .
In this article, we'll talk about fenugreek for breast milk supply.
What Is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an annual herb with white or yellow flowers and pods that contain seeds. The herb is a native to Asia and the Mediterranean. Fenugreek seeds are used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.
Fenugreek seeds offer a number of health benefits and they are loaded with important nutrients such as protein, fat, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin A .
Does Fenugreek Seeds Increase Breast Milk Supply?
Fenugreek is a well-known herbal galactagogue, a substance used to increase milk production both in humans and animals. Researchers aren't sure how exactly fenugreek works to enhance breast milk supply. However, one study reported that fenugreek seeds contain phytoestrogens (plant chemicals that are similar to oestrogen) that can help enhance breast milk supply .
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that mothers, who daily received herbal tea containing fenugreek, resulted in a significant increase in breast milk production and facilitated birth weight regain in infants in early postnatal days .
Another 2018 review study published in the Phytotherapy Research showed that consumption of fenugreek significantly increased the amount of breast milk production in mothers .
Another 2018 study published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine found that breastfeeding mothers who took mixed herbal supplements containing fenugreek, ginger and turmeric, three capsules thrice a day for four weeks, resulted in a 49 per cent increase in milk volume after two weeks and a 103 per cent increase in milk volume after four weeks without any side effects .
Another study reported that mothers who took fenugreek seed tea improved breast milk production .
Is Fenugreek Safe For Breastfeeding Mothers And Their Babies?
Fenugreek is likely safe for both the mother and her baby when used in moderation. A study found that mothers who drank herbal tea containing fruits of bitter fennel, anise and coriander, fenugreek seeds and other herbs did not report any adverse effects on their baby during the 30-day study or the first year of their infant's life .
However, it is important to consult your doctor first before you consume fenugreek in any form because it may cause side effects which can pose a health risk to you and your baby.
How To Consume Fenugreek To Increase Breast Milk Supply?
You can use fenugreek in powdered form or have it as a herbal tea. You can also buy fenugreek capsules or you can consume fenugreek seeds with water. You can also grind fenugreek seeds into powder and add in your cooking.
How Much Fenugreek Should You Take For Breast Milk Supply?
If you are drinking fenugreek tea, then steep 1 tsp of fenugreek seeds in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes and have it twice or thrice a day.
In capsule form, 2-3 fenugreek capsules thrice a day might work .
You can also consume a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds with water.
How Long Does Fenugreek Take To Increase Breast Milk Supply?
Anecdotal reports suggest that an increase in breast milk supply with the help of fenugreek can be seen within 24 to 72 hours after consumption .
Note: Breastfeeding mothers should consult with their doctor before adding fenugreek in their diet.