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    It Does a Baby Good {Part IV}

    February 9, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    Yesterday, I wrote about External Solutions for increasing milk supply. Today, I will discuss Internal Solutions. I will divide these into three categories: Prescription Drugs, Herbal Remedies, and Herbs to Avoid. Please note that these are not all the internal solutions out there. They are just the only ones I feel I have any authority to speak about.


    Prescription Drugs

    Many OBGYNs are unfamiliar with prescription drugs that increase milk supply. In the situation of a drug like Reglan, this is because the increase is actually an unintended side-effect of the drug. This may make it difficult to get a prescription. If an OBGYN has a respect for lactation consultants, he will usually take her word for it and write a prescription for the mother at the consultant’s request. Another possible way of getting a drug is to find a lactation consultant that is also a nurse practioner and permitted to prescribe drugs herself. Like I mentioned before, a children’s hospital is an excellent place to seek out this sort of lactation consultant. Here are the drugs I am familiar with:

    • Reglan: This is actually an acid reflux drug, but for some reason it increases milk supply, sometimes by as much as 300%. The standard prescription {according to my lactation consultant} is 10mg three times per day. A major side-effect of this drug is depression. I took it with all three children, and only experienced that side-effect with my second child. I threw the drug away after I realized what was happening and was fine again within two or three days.
    • Domperidone: I have never taken this drug, but I have researched enough to learn that it is more commonly used in the UK. It can be purchased in the US right now, but it is usually not covered by insurance, which can be quite costly. I always use Reglan instead, but this is a good alternative for a mother who cannot handle the Reglan side-effects.
    • Oxytocin: Unlike the other two drugs, this is a nasal spray. I took this drug with my second child, and its effects were negligible. It is highly addictive, so a mother should not continue taking it if it isn’t working, nor should she take it for very long. Oxytocin tends to work best when the suspected cause of the low supply is a poor let-down reflex. Again, this is very costly. It must be compounded by a pharmacist and is usually not covered by insurance.






    Herbal Remedies

    Herbal remedies, when being used to increase milk supply, often have to be taken in much larger doses than what is printed on the side of the bottle. Therefore, it is important to contact a lactation consultant and find out what the proper dosage is.

    • Fenugreek: This is probably the most popular herbal supplement used to increase milk supply. Incidently, fenugreek smells like maple syrup and is actually used in pancake syrups to imitate real maple, often listed in the ingredients as “natural flavor.” Fenugreek, when taken in the proper dosage, often increases supply within 24 to 48 hours.


    • Saw Palmetto: Most bottles of saw palmetto say that it is not to be used while nursing or pregnant. This means that mothers should be very wise in deciding whether or not to use it.


    Remember in Part II I said that moms should take care to discover the underlying cause of the low supply, if possible? This is why. Saw Palmetto is an androgen suppressant. If blood tests confirm that too-high testosterone levels are the cause of the low supply, saw palmetto can be used in the short term to even them out, and is probably safer than any prescription drugs that would treat the situation. It is unknown how much, if any, actually reaches the milk supply and enters the baby’s body, so I wouldn’t think long-term use is a good idea.


    • More Milk Plus: This is a combination herbal supplement of very high quality produced by Motherlove. I love this supplement, and it has worked better for me than anything else I have tried. Other than fenugreek, blessed thistle, nettle leaf, and fennel seed are often suggested. I have never tried them individually, but I figured out that More Milk Plus is much cheaper than buying each herb on its own. Anyone buying this supplement should Google it to find the best prices. Ebay Express is also a good place to look. And remember to check shipping and tax to compare total prices before deciding what the best price actually is.



    Herbs to Avoid

    One can expect that if there are herbs out there that increase milk supply, there are also herbs that can dry a sensitive woman up, especially if consumed in large quantities. Parsley and sage can dry up milk, while basil and aloe vera should be avoided as well. Here is a list of herbs to avoid. I have also read that mint is a bad idea.

    In my next installment, I will explain my approach to supplementing and give my unsolicited advice on everything from choosing bottles and formula to measuring success.


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