Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fenugreek for Nursing Moms

I have 5 siblings and my mom nursed/breastfed all 6 of us.  When I was 16 she had a surprise baby.  After 9 years of not nursing it was like starting over for her.  My dad made late night trips to the store for nursing shields and lanolin.  Her breasts cracked and she was sore.  She persevered and the two of them figured it out.  Luckily their rough start did not turn me off from breastfeeding my babies.

I am one of those breastfeeding nuts, I nursed my older son for a full 2 years and his 16 month old brother shows no signs of stopping.  I enjoy snuggling with my babies, I love the liquid courage effect, and I LOVE HAVING BOOBS!  Nursing is about the only time I have boobs, when I am not nursing or pregnant I can run without a bra... and while anyone CAN run without a bra, some just shouldn't.  Me?  you can't tell a difference.

When DD#1 was born we struggled for a few days but got it figured out and enjoyed it.  We had no problems and she nursed till she was 14 months old, when I became pregnant and decided that pregnancy, nursing, and full time student was too much.  DD#2 came 7 months later and she took off where her sister left off.  When she was 6 months old, stress (we had graduated college, moved cross country twice, started/quit a job, opened our own business, etc) overcame me and my milk supply plumented.  I called the lactation consultant at the hospital and she directed me toward a supplement known as FENUGREEK, and it smells almost as bad as it sounds.

I went to the natural foods store in town and plunked down some precious dollars that we did not have and started taking the capsules.  It takes a lot to help, but it does help.  Within a week I was back to full supply and we ended up nursing another 10 months before she decided she was too old for such things and would rather play with her sister.

Fast forward 6 years and I again had trouble with my milk supply.  This time it was much more dramatic and the result of postpartum hemorrhaging.  My husband went to the store to get a bottle of Fenugreek and came home with something called Mother's Milk.  It did not help.  It had very little fenugreek in it.  I sent him again, this time to the health food store and he came home with the good stuff. 

620mg of Fenugreek per capsule. 
Per instructions of the nurses I took 3 capsules, 3 times daily. 

The second time around it took a while and lots of additional work to build a milk supply, but those details are for another post.

In summary
  •  Fenugreek does help.  Pumping following nursing also helps.
  •  I believe that it is best used to increase milk supply like with DD#2, not build supply like with DS#2.
  • It takes A LOT of fenugreek to make a difference.  I was taking over 8000 mg per day.
  • I recommend taking it at regular intervals.
  • It will make you smell like Maple Syrup.
  • Wean yourself off of it.  Once supply is well established, slowly reduce amount you are taking.  ie: 2 capsules 3/day for a week, then 1 capsule 3/a day for a week before discontinuing.
Nursing/Breastfeeding takes time to learn, but I promise, it is worth it.

  I am struggling to produce enough milk with newborn DS, I started the fenugreek within a week, and after a full bottle wasn't noticing a huge difference in supply.  I ran out, and since we live in a small town and only one specialty store carries the stuff it took me a while to replace it.  A week or more later I started it again.  I think the break and reintroducing it helped, or I think it did.

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