During the last twelve months our family has been blessed with the birth of two adorable boys - a grandson and great grandson. This has prompted me to write about the benefits of herbal remedies for breastfeeding. Three herbs in particular promote lactation very well - raspberry leaf, stinging nettle leaf, and fenugreek seeds.
The most commonly used of these herbs to increase lactation is probably raspberry leaf. I have seen this work wonders with one of my daughters who had a very traumatic time giving birth. It amazed me that she was still able to breastfeed and after 5 months she still has plenty of milk for her baby. My daughter began taking raspberry leaf after the first trimester of her pregnancy and will keep taking it while she's breastfeeding. You can drink raspberry leaf tea, take the tablets or liquid extract.
Stinging nettle leaf is, in my opinion, the next most popular herb for lactation and is also very effective. Tablets, liquid extract and teas are also available for this herb. If you are fortunate enough to have stinging nettle growing near you just make sure you wear gloves to harvest it. When boiling water is poured on the leaves the sting disappears.
Although not as commonly used as the above herbs there is no doubt that fenugreek is beneficial for breastfeeding. Evidence for this relied on folk use and clinical observation, however, a recent placebo-controlled, double blind clinical trial showed that breast milk volume in the mothers on fenugreek was, on average, approximately twice that of the control and placebo groups. No neonatal or maternal adverse effects were reported for those taking the herb. To make fenugreek tea you will need to make a decoction of the seeds: Simmer 1½ tsp fenugreek seeds in 1 cup water for 10 minutes and drink three times a day. You can add some honey to help with the taste. Fenugreek liquid extract and tablets are also available
Other herbal remedies that are helpful include standard infusions made from the seeds of dill, fennel or aniseed three times a day, and an infusion made from the flowering top of goat's rue (Galega officinalis) taken twice a day.