Low milk supply is associated with poor weight gain in babies and can be distressing for mothers. After latching or attachment difficulties and nipple damage, it is the third most common complaint of nursing mothers. There are many reasons why milk supply can be inadequate. These include: – baby may not be properly attached to the nipple causing ineffective feeding – feeding may be too infrequent. (The Royal Womens Hospital recommends feeding every 2 – 3 hours, more than 8 times daily) – breasts are not being fully drained at each feed – formula feed is being used – mother has previously had breast surgery that involved structural changes to the breast/s Also, a range of ingested medicinal drugs can reduce milk supply such as antibiotics, decongestants, caffeine, valium, nicotine (smoking), marijuana, codeine, morphine and alcohol. If you find your baby is not gaining around150gm of weight weekly, and does not appear to be feeding well, you might like to visit a lactation consultant for a professional opinion. There are many practical ways to improve milk supply. For many nursing mothers it will be a relief that there are also natural medicines that can help! Over the centuries, a number of herbal plants have established themselves as effective galactagogues, meaning they improve the production of breast milk. Usually taken in tea form, these herbs include fennel, fenugreek, aniseed and caraway. Apart from supporting healthy lactation, these herbs have many other therapeutic uses, as you will soon find out. Herbs for low milk supply Fennel Foeniculum vulgare The use of fennel seeds to increase milk supply can be traced back to ancient Greece (1100-146 BC). This yellow flowering herb improves digestion, increasing the production of digestive enzymes, relieving spasm in the gut and reducing flatulence. It is helpful in spasmodic conditions such as colic, as the active ingredients are passed on to baby through the breast milk. Fennel contains rutin to improve capillary strength, as well as calcium and potassium – two essential minerals for general wellbeing. Aniseed Pimpinella anisum Aniseed is a sweet tasting herb with a long history of use as a galactagogue. Rich in proteins, fatty acids, flavonoids and also quercetion (a strong anti-inflammatory). Like Fennel, it improves digestive function and can be useful for baby colic, gripe and flatulence. Aniseed is an incredibly versatile herb, also benefiting the respiratory system, intestinal flora and even boosting libido. Caraway Carum carvi Caraway is a popular lactation support herb, essential in any nursing tea. It enhances the quality of breast milk and improves nourishment for baby. Caraway has a variety of other therapeutic uses. It stimulates the appetite and can be added into breads as a flavour enhancer and digestive aid. It also has a slight pain relieving action, and can ease intestinal colic and flatulence in both mother and baby. Similar to Aniseed, Caraway works on the respiratory system to ease bronchial inflammation. Modern research has shown that a chemical called limonene, present in Caraway, has anti-carcinogenic activity. Continued page 2…..