Is your milk production not exactly what you’d imagined it would be? Are you worried you aren’t producing enough milk to dodge giving your baby some formula?
While popping pills isn’t generally the best solution for your problems, in the case of breast milk production, it really can help.
While lactation supplements won’t make your supply turn on like a water faucet, they can make enough of a difference that you may be able to ditch the idea of formula supplementation.
How Do Lactation Supplements Work?
You wouldn’t be a breastfeeding mom if you didn’t worry at some point about your milk production. What comes out seems like such a small amount of milk for the time and effort you put into it. And just by looking at it, you aren’t convinced it’s enough to actually sustain a human life.
If you’re looking for a way to bulk up your supply, one solution can be lactation supplements. They work by giving you herbs and vitamins that have been known to increase milk supply. In the case of some of the herbs, like fenugreek, they’ve been used by women for centuries for this purpose.
Although there hasn’t been a ton of research into how lactation supplements work, many of the ingredients enjoy such popularity because they are herbs women have been using for so long as mothers. They are time-tested.
How They Work:
But swallowing a pill isn’t the only thing you should be doing to boost your supply if it’s low. You should also be regularly pumping or breastfeeding since draining both of your breasts is one of the best ways to up your milk production. In addition to that, you should make sure to get as much sleep as possible and drink plenty of water.
When Do I Need to Start Taking a Lactation Supplement?
Many new moms think they have a problem with milk production, but they actually don’t. I remember with my new baby, I watched during one of my first pumping sessions as my breast milk came out drop by drop. I was crushed. I expected a steady stream and I got something instead that dripped slower than the leak in my bathroom sink.
It didn’t seem right after all the work I was putting in. I was convinced something was wrong with me. I measured the ounces I got from the pumping session after I was finished draining both breasts.
Then I looked up how much a normal woman can expect to produce at one time. And you know? I was normal. My one measly ounce of milk per breast was normal, especially at the beginning of motherhood.
I wasn’t behind the curve like I thought I was. Before you consider branding yourself a low producer, which can make you feel like a failure, measure how much you’re actually producing first.
After that, if you still think you should be doing better than what you are, you can consider lactation supplements and other means of increasing your supply.
It’s always a good idea to mention any new supplements you’re taking to your doctor. Keep in mind, your supplement won’t immediately work and it won’t turn your supply into a waterfall. It may modestly boost it, but it could take anywhere from one day up to two weeks for you to notice the difference (source).
How Do I Choose a Lactation Supplement?
There are many different options when you’re looking for a lactation supplement and finding the right one can prove to be a real pill.
Here are some tips for helping you decide which one to go with:
- Talk to your Doctor: This is the first thing you need to do before adding any supplements. Show him the supplement you’re considering taking so he can determine if it’s safe for you. He’ll be able to review the ingredient list and your medical history to see if there is an ingredient you should stay away from. People who are allergic to peanuts, for instance, shouldn’t take fenugreek.
- Examine the ingredients: If your doctor gives you the green light on any supplement you want to take, you may want to examine the other properties of the ingredients you’re considering. If you want to go with herbs that have been popular with breastfeeding women, you might want to find a formula with fenugreek and fennel. If you are struggling with anemia, you may want to consider nettle because of its high iron content (source).
- Check out the price of the supplements: While it’s nice to save money, you also want to make sure you’re getting quality ingredients. And sometimes, you’ll have to pay more to obtain better ingredients.
- Decide how many supplements you want to take: Some women take multiple daily supplements to help with their supply. But it may be best to start with one and see how much that helps before you add an armload of pills to your daily regimen. You might find one is enough. Or you might want to add one or two more if you’re still not producing enough milk.
The Best Lactation Supplements of 2018
Now that you know how lactation supplements work, the safety precautions to be aware of, when to start taking them, and exactly what to look for —
Here are our 10 top picks in 2018:
This supplement is a postnatal vitamin and lactation aid all in one. It has fermented probiotics added to the blend, which can be helpful in fighting the upset stomachs women sometimes get when taking lactation supplements. You can even take this supplement without food and your stomach should be just fine.
This offers a 3-in-1 formula — in addition to the multivitamin, you’ll get multiple herbs, like lemon balm, chamomile, lavender and cardamom, and multiple minerals.
Moms who only like to use high-quality ingredients should like that this brand is formulated with organic ingredients that are non-GMO.
If you like to know a little more about the product you’re using, you might be happy to hear that this supplement was formulated by a mother who also is a naturopathic doctor.
- This supplement contains some probiotics.
- They shouldn’t make you feel nauseous.
- They are made from high-quality ingredients.
- You have to take three tablets a day so it can get pricey.
- Some moms said it tastes bad to them.
If you love the idea of using some of the most popular herbal choices to increase your supply, you might want to check out this lactation supplement. It uses organic fenugreek, milk thistle and fennel seed — these are the only herbs in this blend. The ingredients are all non-GMO.
Since the herbs are organic, you don’t have to worry about ingesting any harmful additives or herbicides when you take this supplement. That’s a relief for moms who are concerned with their overall health and their baby’s exposure to substances through their breast milk.
Moms who are vegans will be able to take these, and they are even gluten free.
If you like to buy American whenever you can because of the strict quality-control in our country, you’ll be happy to know these supplements are made in the U.S.
- This is a vegan-friendly supplement.
- It uses organic and non-GMO ingredients.
- It contains fenugreek, which is a well-known and long-used herb for increasing breast milk supply.
- You’ll have to take two tablets a day, but that’s still less than some brands which require you to take three or more tablets.
- Some moms had issues with their child having more gas after taking these.
Sometimes you have a lower milk supply because of clogged ducts. Clogged ducts can be painful and it’s best to take care of them promptly because they can severely impact your supply if you don’t clear them up.
The herbs used in this blend can help unplug those ducts and get that milk flowing again. Plus, the support from the herbs can even boost your supply in the process. It doesn’t contain any caffeine so it won’t interfere with your sleep or your baby’s sleep, which is good for moms who are already feeling sleep deprived.
This formula is comprised of organic ingredients that were harvested in the wild. This bottle contains one ounce of liquid — it’s not a capsule or tablet. You can take the liquid drops straight up or mixed in with another drink.
- It begins working quickly.
- It can be used for taking care of ducts once they are clogged or for preventing them.
- There is no caffeine in the product.
- While the product isn’t expensive, you have to use two or three droppers full for a dose, so it goes fast.
- Some moms hate the taste of these drops.
This supplement uses 100 percent organic herbs so you can feel good about what you’re trying to do for your baby’s nutrition. It contains multiple herbs, which may be a good solution for moms with severely impacted breast milk production or for moms who have tried single herb supplements without any luck.
The herbs in this supplement are fenugreek seed powder, blessed thistle powder, milk thistle extract, anise seed powder, fennel seed powder and goats rue powder.
If your baby doesn’t seem to love the taste of your breast milk, you might want to consider trying this kind of supplement. The blend of herbs includes some that can actually sweeten the taste of your breast milk. That may appeal to some babies. If they start to savor the flavor, they may begin nursing more, which can also boost your milk supply.
- It can make your breast milk sweeter for your baby.
- It can boost the nutritional quality of your milk.
- The herbs used are all organic.
- You’ll have to take two pills a day.
- These are fairly expensive.
Moms who have trouble swallowing giant-sized tablets or capsules may appreciate that this supplement contains drops that you put on your tongue. You might not like the flavor, but if you have a problem with the taste, you can mix it in with some juice or water and drink it that way.
The drops are non-GMO and gluten-free. There isn’t any sugar in this formula and you won’t find any stimulants either, which is nice for both you and your baby. You need to be able to sleep when your baby does and not feel too wired to rest because of your lactation supplement.
Only wild-harvest, organic ingredients, like raspberry leaf and fenugreek, are used to make this supplement. The company is also committed to sustainability of the resources it is using, so eco-friendly moms should approve of this formula.
- The liquid is easy to swallow.
- This supplement is absorbed by your body quickly.
- There are no stimulates in this formula to keep you awake.
- This isn’t a great tasting formula.
- One small bottle is fairly pricey.
If you don’t understand how women can swallow so many pills each day, you might want to go with a drinkable supplement.
This one contains fenugreek, anise and blessed thistle and is berry flavored to make it more enjoyable. It also contains beetroot and carrot seed. Plus, because you have to add water, you’ll get the extra hydration, which will be good for your milk supply. If you want a fruitier taste, you can mix it with juice instead.
It’s a good pick for vegans and people who can’t have gluten. There aren’t any artificial ingredients in this formula at all.
To start with you only need to take one packet per day, which may be a big relief to women who don’t want to have to remember to take supplements multiple times a day. But if you don’t see enough improvement with that one packet, you can take more after a while — although you should never use more than three packets per day.
- One packet a day may be enough for you.
- You won’t have to swallow any pills with this one.
- It’s affordable.
- Some women complained it caused upset stomachs for both them and their babies.
- Some moms couldn’t tolerate the taste by mixing it with water — they had to use juice.
This supplement uses two herbs — fenugreek seed and blessed thistle powder. That can be appealing to moms who don’t want to use too many active ingredients to jumpstart their milk supply.
The capsules are vegetarian friendly, which is good for moms who are trying to keep their value-system going while still giving their baby all the nutrition they need to thrive.
With this formula you have to take it two or three times a day — two capsules at a time. So you could be taking up to six capsules a day. You should also take it with food to help ensure that it doesn’t upset your stomach.
This blend is manufactured in the U.S. Moms who like to watch their intake of potentially harmful substances will like that these don’t use artificial colors or flavors.
- Moms who are sensitive to lactose can take these.
- This formula doesn’t seem to have a lot of side effects.
- It seems to work fast.
- You have to take a lot of capsules every day, which isn’t great for moms who don’t like to swallow big pills.
- Because you have to take so many pills, it can get expensive.
If swallowing capsules doesn’t bother you, this product might be a good pick for you. Although you’ll have to down 9 capsules a day, this supplement has a lot going for it. It’s a vegetarian formula and gluten free. Health conscious moms will appreciate that it doesn’t use artificial preservatives, coloring or flavors.
Moms who don’t want to skimp on the type of herbs they are taking may like how many herbs are crammed into this formula. It has alfalfa, anise, barley grass, fennel, fenugreek, marshmallow root, nettle leaf, red raspberry and spirulina. Moms who haven’t had any luck with other supplements may want to head straight for these because of the diverse kinds of herbs.
Moms who want to avoid the bad aftertaste of some of the other lactation supplements on the market should like that these are tasteless.
- The capsules are easy to swallow.
- There are a lot of herbs in the supplement in case you haven’t had any luck with single-herb supplements.
- There is no bad aftertaste with this supplement.
- You need to take them in divided doses, which means you have to remember to take them multiple times a day.
- Nine capsules to take every day may seem like too much work to some moms.
Moms who want to give a single-herb supplement a whirl may like this one that only uses fenugreek seed.
While this supplement contains enough fenugreek seed to help boost milk production, it doesn’t contain a lot of undesirable things or possible allergens some other supplements do. It doesn’t have yeast, sodium, wheat, gluten, lactose, egg, corn, starch or sugar. Plus, it doesn’t have artificials additives you might rather avoid, like coloring, sweeteners, preservatives and flavors.
In addition, fenugreek will give moms an added boost of extra vitamins B and C, as well as beta carotene.
These supplements are made in the U.S., which might please moms who want to support their country’s economy.
If you relish the idea of helping others when you buy your supplement, you might like to know that this company makes a donation for every bottle sold to help needy children get access to vitamins.
- It’s affordable.
- People who can’t have lactose, gluten or artificial sweeteners can all have this.
- Some moms said this supplement started to work quickly.
- You’ll have to take four to six capsules a day, spread throughout the day.
- Some women struggled with upset stomachs while taking this.
There are only two ingredients in this lactation supplement — organic fenugreek seed and a vegetarian capsule. Moms who are worried about additives should like the simplicity and wholesomeness of this one.
Moms who are on a tight budget and who can’t afford to spend a lot of money on lactation supplements may like this cheaper option. Most moms should be able to scrape the money together to try a one-month supply of this supplement to see if it works for them.
For new moms who want to take as few herbs as possible to see what works for them, this is a good choice. Fenugreek is one of the main lactation herbs to get results for moms, although it doesn’t work for everyone. Because it does have such a good reputation, however, it’s a good place to start when you are first exploring your lactation issues.
- They are easy to swallow.
- They are very affordable.
- Some moms may like that there are only two simple ingredients.
- You’ll have to take three capsules a day.
- Some moms complained about gas pains when taking this product.
My Favorite Is …
One of the best lactation supplements is New Chapter vitamin and lactation supplement. Although it doesn’t have a huge dose of probiotics, it does have some, which is good for the gut health and possibly the immune system of moms.
This kind is gentle on the stomachs of both mothers and babies, which is great. We have enough on our plates as new moms without worrying about side effects from supplements too.
Good luck with boosting your milk supply and remember to just do your best. At the end of the day, the most important thing your baby needs from you is your love.