What is a galactagogue?

A galactagogue is an agent that stimulates the secretion of milk or increases the milk flow. Women commonly make use of galactagogues when they’re breastfeeding, and they can be in the form of an herb, food, tea or drug.

Common galactagogues

Commonly used galactagogues are herbal plants. Fenugreek could be the most potent milk-stimulating herb known to nursing mothers.  According to research, most women using this herb in a dosage of 1200 to 1800mg three times a day have a significant increase in their milk flow in just a few days. This is taken in a short duration of time and is usually stopped when milk flow has successfully been established.

RELATED: Can oatmeal help you produce more breast milk?

Use of fenugreek by diabetic women is regulated as it can promote low blood sugar, making them at risk for hypoglycaemia. It is not advisable for hypertensive women, also, as it increases blood pressure. Moreover, colic and diarrhea in newborns are said to occur with its usage.

Below is a list of herbs, also used as a galactagogues

  1. Alfalfa: Has a mild effect and can be mixed up with other galactagogues for increased potency.
  2. Goat’s rue: Usually formed into tea and helps enhance the let-down reflex.
  3. Fennel: May cause some digestive changes
  4. Brewer’s yeast: May contain Vitamin B, amino acids, minerals and iron.
  5. Blessed thistle: Usually taken in three capsules three times per day, but can cause some digestive changes
  6. Anise: Not only helps in milk production, but also decreases colic in baby through moms breast milk.


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Lactation teas are also available in the market. Though their use as a galactagogue is not clearly established, many nursing women still make use of them, as they claimed it to be effective. In addition to tea are foods such as oatmeal, garlic and ginger. They are all claimed to help increase milk flow. In severe cases, synthetically made galactagogue can be prescribed by doctors. Included in the list are Metaclopromide, Sulpiride (Egonyl), chlorpromazine (Thorazine) and Domperidone.

When is a galactagogue necessary?

  • When a lactating woman experiences difficulty in milk production or is having a slowed let-down reflex
  • When a woman wants to initiate milk secretion for an adopted baby
  • When a working mom needs to increase her milk production, enabling her to store more amount for her infant
  • Presence of a premature infant, who is incapable of breastfeeding in his own


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In choosing the right galactagogue to be used, a nursing woman should carefully study the characteristics of a certain agent. Its indication, dosage and adverse effects should be clearly understood before ingesting it. Herbals as a galactagogue, even if they are classified as natural, may have the same or worst adverse effect as synthetically prepared one. Therefore, one must not use such herbs without consulting a physician about it.

It should be noted that anything that is taken in by a mother may affect the infant negatively. This fact should always be the basis of a woman in deciding what to eat or drink.

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