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Breastfeeding offers your sacred little being incredible benefits. Each sip is filled with potent nutrients and vitamins, giving new life powerful protection against a range of infections and diseases.
While the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends newborns are exclusively breastfed in the first six months of life, only a small portion of mothers are able to follow this regime. In the US, less than 15% of babies are exclusively breastfed in those first six months (a figure replicated across many countries worldwide).
Why? Current research suggests that perceived insufficient milk supply (PIMS) is one of the most common reasons for this drop off.
And that’s where galactagogues enter the picture. In an effort to increase milk supply, certain foods like lactation cookies, as well as teas and herbs are offered as a solution.
But, the science around galactagogues is patchy and inconclusive. Let’s explore what you need to know about nutrition, milk supply and the efficacy of galactagogues.
WHAT ARE GALACTAGOGUES?
Galactagogues are any substances (from foods to herbs) that are claimed to increase breastmilk supply. Typically, they’re used to elevate prolactin levels as a method to enhance milk production during breastfeeding.
Certain foods and herbs have been used by mothers for centuries for their perceived ability to boost milk supply. However, there’s limited evidence to illustrate their effectiveness as many galactagogues haven’t been studied formally.
Some of the most common galactagogues claimed to increase lactation include:1) Pharmaceutical galactagogues - including domperidone and metoclopramide
2) Herbal galactagogues - including shatavari, fenugreek, silymarin, garlic, blessed thistle, moringa and malunggay
Importantly, mothers are encouraged to speak with a lactation consultant before consuming galactagogues to ensure all appropriate avenues related to milk supply challenges have been explored.
HOW EFFECTIVE ARE GALACTAGOGUES?
Ultimately, we don’t have enough evidence to truly understand the impacts of galactagogues on milk supply.
Some international organisations have attempted to review the existing literature to better understand the impact of galactagogues on breastfeeding mothers. One not-for-profit organisation in the UK recently reviewed 41 studies involving over 3,000 mothers and infants from over 17 countries.
Unfortunately, the research we have only uses small sample sizes that aren’t well controlled, making their results patchy at best.
Plus, measuring breast milk volume is inherently challenging. In most cases, it involves weighing babies before and after feeding to gauge their milk intake (which can deliver unreliable results).
With only low-certainty research available, it’s impossible to make a definitive conclusion about the impact of galactagogues on milk supply (regardless of whether they’re in pharmacological or herbal form).
THE CHALLENGES OF LOW MILK SUPPLY
The “need” for galactagogues stems from this: a perception of low milk supply. The phenomenon is so common it’s even earned the acronym “PIMS” in academic discourse.
In fact, PIMS is one of the key factors driving women to discontinue breastfeeding in the early stages of their journey (with 35% of mothers surveyed citing perceived low supply as their primary reason).
The notion that we’re not producing enough milk for our little ones is understandably a daunting prospect. However, the actual number of mothers with low supply is incredibly low.
The reason perception and reality aren’t aligned comes down to this: we’re not taught how to accurately measure breast milk supply. Without proper education and expert guidance about the realities of milk supply, PIMS will continue to cause mothers to cease their breastfeeding journey early.
WHY MATERNAL NUTRITION IS ESSENTIAL FOR BREAST MILK QUALITY AND OVERALL HEALTH
Ultimately, you know what’s best for you and there's no harm in a nice cup of tea. We don’t have definitive answers about the effectiveness of galactagogues, so we crafted Lacto to focus on foundational maternal health instead.
The research tells us that the composition of our milk supply comes from our diet. The macronutrient content in our milk is sourced from the fuel we feed our own bodies. That means the nutrients and vitamins we consume have a direct impact on the quality of our breastmilk.
This insight is what we used when designing Lacto, packed with six nutrients in plant forms that your body recognises and can actually use. We consulted the best in the field about which nutrients and ingredients would provide the greatest benefits to lactating mothers.
Each choc-mint bite is scientifically dosed with Omega 3, B12, D3 and Biotin, the crucial nutrients many women are lacking during breastfeeding. Plus, Lacto is enriched with Iodine and Folate to fill in the gaps in what most modern women get in their diet.
We know that plant-based forms are more readily absorbed as your body recognises them as food. It also means any excesses are easily excreted with no risk of harm. Same benefits, less risk of side effects (unlike traditional synthetic breastfeeding supplements).
With a growing body of research now challenging the safety of common synthetic forms, we’ve used plant forms because we’d rather be safe than sorry.
When it comes to supporting healthy milk quality and quantity, the research is yet to show conclusive evidence of the effectiveness of galactogogues. But we do know this: consuming the right vitamins and nutrients is key to supporting maternal health and the quality of breastmilk, too.
Learn more about Lacto, the breastfeeding vitamin made from plants, not pills. Packed with the six nutrients breastfeeding women are most likely to lack in two bites per day.