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fenugreek: friend or foe?

Oh the things we do for our babies….

After months of worry about Eleanor’s eating and weight gain, Eleanor’s appetite finally increased and she started demanding more breast milk at daycare. Being away from her 8 hours a day, 5 days a week resulted in my body having a difficult time keeping up with her this increased demand.

During my 3 daily pump sessions, I found myself able to produce an average of 18 ounces per day. The only problem was that Eleanor needed a minimum of 20 ounces sent to daycare. I tried adding an overnight pumping session, but a groggy Joanna kept sleeping through her 1:00am alarm.

After consulting with both my lactation consultant and pediatrician, I decided to give fenugreek a try. I’d heard a lot about the herb throughout my time at Baby & Me, and knew of a lot of moms who found it beneficial to increasing her milk supply.

breastfeeding fenugreek
I picked up a bottle at CVS and began a 6 pill a day regimen (two capsules at every meal). The bottle indicated that some moms see results within 48 hours but that it could take up to a week to see any real increase. You know you’re taking enough when you noticeably smell like maple syrup (see, moms do crazy things for their babies haha).

Within 48 hours I noticed something else – my stomach was a mess. I felt SO sick and knew it had to be the fenugreek. I looked up the side effects and sure enough, tummy troubles are a common issue (so is weight gain – how is that even fair?!).

The good news with fenugreek is that once you get a milk increase, you can discontinue use. Even with the uncomfortable side effects, I decided to stick with it until I saw results.

breastfeeding fenugreek
On the 6th day, I was able to pump 21 ounces. I took it as a sign that I could stop taking the pills.  My body has since evened out at 20 ounces per day. For now I’m keeping up with Eleanor’s needs, but should that change, I might need to do another week of fenugreek in the near future.

I know many moms who took fenugreek with no problems, unfortunately I was not one of the lucky ones. However, I do believe it worked and was worth the trouble in the end. If you find yourself in the same predicament, I would definitely give fenugreek a try! So is fenugreek my friend? Probably more of a frenemy.

Add this to the list of little sacrifices I’m happy to make for Eleanor… good thing she’s cute! :)

Your turn:

Have you ever tried herbal supplements?
What other strategies have you heard of for increasing milk supply? I also eat old fashioned oats every so often to maintain my supply.


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