Boosting your milk supply can be done in many natural and simple ways. Milk thistle has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. While first used for treating poison, it was and still is used as a powerful supplement for liver health. What about milk thistle and breastfeeding? Milk thistle is one of the most common galactagogues used to boost lactation.
What is Milk Thistle?
Milk thistle is a flowering herb native to the Mediterranean. It is often referred to interchangeably as silymarin, part of its scientific name. It has green leaves streaked with white and purple flowers.
Milk thistle comes in a few forms, as a supplement in capsules, as a component of tea or in Majka’s Nourishing Lactation Powder. All forms of milk thistle are beneficial and easy to take for a breastfeeding mom.
Milk Thistle and Breastfeeding
While it’s clear that more research needs to be done, milk thistle is considered safe for breastfeeding and there is good evidence that it is effective. One study found more than an 85% increase in milk supply in women taking this powerful supplement. Milk thistle is often taken in combination with fenugreek and other herbs to create an even more powerful tonic.
You may wonder, “How much milk thistle should I have?” If you are choosing to take milk thistle as a supplement, always follow the dosage instructions. As a tea, 1-2 cups daily will suffice, but there’s no danger in having more. (Note that it is not recommended to consume milk thistle in large quantities while pregnant due to lack of safety research).
How Does Milk Thistle Affect Milk Supply?
Milk thistle is a galactagogue meaning that it promotes or increases lactation. Like other galactagogues, including fennel, fenugreek, and ginger, milk thistle signals the body to increase milk output particularly when paired with more frequent nursing/pumping. Milk thistle is typically paired with fenugreek as there is some evidence they work best together. Many women who supplement with lactation boosting herbs are pleased with the results and feel more confident in their milk supply. This is one of the reasons why we have chosen to include milk thistle in our Majka Lactation Booster!
Milk Thistle Benefits
Using milk thistle for lactation is great, but mothers using this herb can experience other benefits as well:
Cautions using Milk Thistle
Due to its benefits for blood sugar balance, milk thistle should be taken with caution by anyone with type II diabetes. While it is rare to be allergic to milk thistle, those with allergies related plants of the same family may not want to use milk thistle. Milk thistle may also have side effects if paired with other medications. Fortunately, milk thistle is generally seen as a safe herb, and side effects are typically mild, but be sure to contact your doctor if you are unsure.
Other Herbs that can Increase your Supply
While it’s agreed that there is a lack of research on herbs that increase milk supply, many mothers report success in boosting their milk supply with galactagogues. Some other popular milk boosting herbs are:
- Brewer’s Yeast
How do you Know if You Need to Supplement to Increase your Milk Supply
With all this said, how do you know if you need to increase your milk supply? While not having enough milk is something that most moms worry about, actually having a low supply is rare. Signs of low supply are poor weight gain, baby being generally fussy and/or lethargic and not having enough wet and dirty diapers. There are many ways to help increase supply, the foundational one being ensuring your baby has a proper latch.
That being said, many of these lactation boosting supplements can help increase the quality of your milk too, not just the quantity. Taking herbs will not cause an oversupply, either. If you’re concerned about your baby’s weight gain or your supply, speak with a qualified lactation consultant or healthcare provider.
Milk thistle is one of many powerful herbs to boost the quality and amount of milk for your precious baby. It’s easy and simple to take and even provides extra health benefits for you. We hope with this information you feel more confident about feeding your baby!
Looking for more tips on how to support your milk supply? Check out our Guide to a Healthy Milk Supply! This free resource will provide you with important lactation information so you feel empowered and confident about breastfeeding.
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