Are galactogogues necessary?

Recently I received an email asking me to read this article about Ben & Jerry’s newest ice cream creation with oats – a galactogogue.

Galacto-what?!

It has nothing to do with Battlestar Galactica or the galaxy… a galactogogue is something that increases milk supply. It can be a herb, food, or medication. For example, some women swear by fenugreek or oatmeal cookies to increase milk supply.

Do you need to take a galactogogue?

Well, let’s start with asking the new mom, “Why do you think you need to increase your milk supply?” The answers will range from “I don’t make enough milk!” to “My friend told me to…” and here’s where we need to take a deep breath and evaluate the new mom’s family support, actual milk output, current family and work situation, as well as explain how milk supply works.

How does it work?

1. Mom, you’re not a cow. Your breasts work on demand and supply. Increased demand = increased supply.

2. Mom, you have milk ducts that fill up and make perfect milk for your baby. Your baby’s belly is tiny at first — about as big as your thumb nail. Slowly but surely it’ll grow, but that’s why your super-boobs only make a little bit of milk at first. For it is simply enough to feed your baby. In a few days, your boobs adjust to the baby and will make more milk. Again, remember the supply-demand-principle.

3. Mom, please forget to schedule your baby’s boob time. I know it’s demanding and you will feel as if you aren’t doing anything aside from nursing, but your baby’s getting used to the outside world and he or she simply needs you, your heart beat, your skin-to-skin time, and your milk. Nurse as often as you can. In a few weeks the time in between nursing sessions will increase.

4. Mom, your milk is everything: food, drinks, vitamins, antibodies, and love. Hence many of us call it liquid gold.

Questions I typically ask:

  • Does your baby cry more than you think it should?

  • Did you write down how much your baby cries?

  • Is your baby gaining weight?

  • Does your baby have wet diapers?

  • How many a day?

  • Do you want to freeze some milk for later?

  • Are you solely pumping?

  • Do you eat and drink regularly?

  • Do you have help?

  • Are you an adoptive mom?

Whatever the answer is, please contact me at your earliest convenience or another Certified Lactation Counselor near you. We can help, support, counsel, and encourage — together we can find a way that is right for you!

The response article with my interview and quote, written by Karen Grass Johnson, was published on February 8, 2017 on Babble.

Ask a CLC: nipple pain while breastfeeding

Watch your baby, not the clock!

 


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