Information on this site is for educational and personal use only, and is not intended in any way as prescription or diagnosis. It is not a substitute for medical advice. If you have a medical condition, or take prescription medication, do not neglect good quality medical support.
The terms ‘treat’ and ‘treatment’, or similar, do not promise or imply cure.
Information given about products or their ingredients refers to research-based evidence; some sources of evidence are on the Links pages. It would be impossible to fit the information in these references onto each page.
Reference to ‘traditional use’ reflects well-documented common use, by ordinary people, over many years, often in more than one country. ‘Traditional use’ does not imply any research evidence or safety level, it is included for information only, and is not a recommendation.
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Encouraging Breast Milk
Many breastfeeding mums worry that there is not enough milk for their baby. It is natural to worry, especially when you have no experience and when you cannot see how much the baby is taking.
Remember to ask your midwife, doctor, health visitor, other experienced mums, or contact the groups listed under Useful Websites. Some operate free breastfeeding helplines.
Most mums do make enough milk, but sometimes baby may not take it properly.
Look at baby’s jaw to see if she is both sucking and swallowing, and not just holding onto the nipple for comfort (hers, not yours). Her jaw joint should wiggle and you may see the ear move too. Audible glugging sounds are a good guide. A common pattern for active feeding is a series of sucks, then a swallow, then pause, then repeat.
Active feeding should last minimum 10-20 minutes, and baby is usually content and sleepy afterwards, not restless.
Your breast milk will let down best if you yourself feel comfortable, relaxed and secure, with as much privacy as you need.
Newborns sometimes are not hungry for up to 24 hours. Don’t force it, but if all else is normal, continue gentle attempts with finger or nipple every couple of hours. Stimulate your nipples yourself to get a little colostrum to tempt her with.
Frequent feeding is common in very small babies. Older babies may increase frequency of feeds when they are trying to stimulate your supply. This usually lasts 3-4 days.
Baby grows well, at least a few ounces a week. Baby should not lose weight after the first week. However, it does not help to be obsessed with rapid weight gain. Weight may not go up the same every week, but it should go up.
Wet/pooey nappies are a good sign. Something must be going in if something is coming out.
Sore or cracked nipples usually mean baby is not well positioned, so she chews on the nipple rather than squeezing the surrounding milk-producing breast.
If you want to breastfeed, avoid dummies (comforters) for the first month till baby is used to the nipple.
Try supporting baby by holding the nape of her neck. Some babies may arch backwards off the breast if you touch the back of their heads. Good support at the breast is essential so baby is relaxed.
Feeding ‘all the time’ is impossible. Baby would use up all the milk. Either baby is not getting milk, or she just likes to suck – fine if you are happy! If not, be decisive: slide your little finger in the corner of her mouth, in between her gums, and ease her off firmly.
If your nipples are inverted, you may need advice; ask your midwife or breastfeeding counsellor.
If your nipples are large or your baby has a small mouth, she may need time to learn to get around them!
If baby seems to fight the breast, check for: unusual diet in preceding day; skin creams with a bad taste; you or baby are uncomfortable; baby had deep suction at birth, or has oral thrush, and may have a sore mouth.
Few wet nappies, a very sleepy baby, dehydration or no weight gain are all extremely serious. Please see your midwife/doctor as soon as possible.
Many herbs have traditionally been used to encourage the production of breast milk. These include Fennel, Aniseed (Anise), Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle. I can find no up-to-date research on these. Herb teas are the easiest ways to use Fennel and Aniseed. Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek are rather bitter to take as tea; capsules are available.
Fenugreek can stimulate the womb so do not take it during pregnancy; more than 100g (3 ounces!) daily can cause digestive upset.
Sage has been traditionally used to dry up milk, at time of weaning. Again I can find no research.
Here are some herbs which do have recent research:
Stinging Nettle (Urtica Dioica) has been shown to enrich the milk, and increase milk flow. It has been traditionally used as a tonic to restore women’s energy following childbirth. Nettle is considered safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
It is available as loose tea or teabags, and has a pleasant ‘green’ taste. Don’t make it too strong if you are not used to it. You can make your own with fresh unpolluted nettle tops, one to a mug.
Nettle is also available as capsules. Vogel produce both Urtica and Urticalcin (includes Calcium and Silica) tinctures.
This is a widely useful herb for so many female problems, including fertility, menstrual and pre-menstrual problems, and thrush. See the reference at Women’s Health.
Agnus Castus acts on two hormones, progesterone and prolactin. During breastfeeding, prolactin encourages milk production. Agnus Castus is well recognised in Europe as a galactogogue - a herb to promote breast milk. One study shows Agnus Castus increasing milk production by up to three times that of control group, after 20 days of use.
Not to be taken during pregnancy.
Agnus Castus appears suitable for long term use at normal doses.
Avoid with any progesterone drug, contraceptive pill or HRT.
Agnus Castus may aggravate spasmodic dysmenorrhoea (menstrual cramps) if not associated with PMS.
Caution with dopamine antagonist drugs.
Changes in UK law oblige me to remove suggested usage from specific homeopathic medicines. Homeopathy is still entirely legal, and available just as before, but medicines are now categorised as ‘’unlicensed products’. I apologise for this inconvenience. It is my opinion that restricting this information makes the use of homeopathic medicines less accurate and reliable.
Although I cannot give general guidelines on the website, you may still consult me as an individual client. As this is more time-consuming, I may have to charge for this service.
Do not neglect good quality medical guidance. Natural remedies may be complementary to modern medicine, they are not a substitute.
Homeopathic remedies are quite suitable in pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, if used according to guidance from a qualified practitioner. They also do not interact with prescription drugs. For more info see Homeopathy with Prescription Medication.
Always monitor the effect carefully, write down what you take and what happens, or ask someone else to do this. If your remedy helps, but symptoms return later, repeat what you took. If your remedy does not help, look for a different one.
You can buy remedies in the 6 or 30 potency in shops. Childbirth remedy kits often contain the 200 potency, this is fine, but I would not recommend it for home use outside of childbirth.
It is always best to consult a professional homeopath.
Herbs may have a long history of traditional use, but lack the research to prove it. Equally, herbs may be unsafe, but we do not know because of lack of evidence. It is always best to consult a professional herbalist.
If you take any medication, herbs or supplements may interact with them. Be especially careful about warnings, and if in doubt consult your doctor or a pharmacist.