4 Factors That Can Reduce Your Milk Supply

Want to maintain your milk supply? It’s important to be aware of the factors that can reduce your milk supply. Avoid the following foods, drugs, and herbs, as they may all limit your breast milk production and ultimately affect the quantity and quality of the nourishment you provide to your little one.

If you’re worrying about your breast milk supply, there are different steps you can take to guarantee you produce more than enough for your child. Not all foods and herbs stimulate lactation. Certain foods, herbs, and drugs can actually reduce milk production. Some, such as alcohol or parsley, decrease milk supply gradually, while others, such as pseudoephedrine, stop milk production dramatically within hours after the first intake.

Learn everything you can about the foods, herbs, and medicines that can reduce your milk production.

1. Alcohol

For many years, healthcare providers advised nursing moms to consume a beer before nursing to aid in the milk ejection reflex, provide relaxation, increase milk production, and enhance milk quality. Yet, this counsel needed to be revised. Alcohol has the power to induce relaxation, however it does so by functioning as a central nervous system depressant. It also inhibits the release of oxytocin, resulting in a drop in circulating oxytocin and a reduction in the number of letdowns a breastfeeding mother will experience during each nursing session.

In studies, children appeared to suckle initially more frequently following moderate alcohol consumption by lactating mothers. Yet, pre- and post-feed weights demonstrated that infants who are fed milk by alcoholic parents tend to eat less milk than those whose parents consumed a nonalco­holic placebo. It has been shown that alcohol can alter the flavor and odor of human milk, although the underlying cause is not yet known.

Breastfeeding women have stated that drinking alcohol makes their breasts feel significantly fuller. Yet, we now understand that the sense of fullness is often the result of inadequate milk transport to the infant, not increased milk production. It turns out that the misconception that alcohol increases milk production stems from the fact that several types of beer historically had therapeutic quantities of barley or barley malt, which are renowned galactagogues. Modern beer production, however, results in subtherapeutic quantities of barley and oats.

Four ounces of wine, one ounce of hard liquor, or eight ounces of beer will not affect your newborn, your milk production, or your infant’s ability to breastfeed. Any more amounts should be avoided.

While the odd alcoholic beverage will not have a detrimental effect on your milk production, persistent alcohol usage will have a negative effect on your milk’s quality and quantity. In addition, following a night of excessive drinking, your milk production will drastically decrease. Some lactating women can recover rapidly from this rapid decline, typically within 24 to 48 hours. Others will require frequent nursing or pumping in addition to ga­lactagogues to restore sufficient milk production to suit their infant’s nutritional needs.

2. Sage, peppermint, parsley, and menthol.

Many herbs are lactogen­ic meals that can give you the desired increase in breast milk production. Unfortunately, not all herbs have the same ability to stimulate breast milk production. The consumption of significant quantities of sage, parsley, peppermint, and menthol has been observed to reduce the milk production of nursing mothers. There are no rigorous studies that examine the precise amount of each herb required to have a detrimental effect on nursing; nonetheless, anecdotal data suggests that these herbs can and do reduce milk production.

You do not need to avoid each of these herbs completely, but be wary of foods that include excessive amounts. Sage is a prominent herb used at Thanksgiving, parsley is a common ingredient in dishes such as tabbouleh, and peppermint is commonly found in teas, gums, and candies.

3. Chasteberry

The dried fruit of the chaste tree is indigenous to the Mediterranean region. It has long been used to treat a number of reproductive disorders, including PMS, endome­triosis, and menopause-related symptoms. Chasteberry has also been traditionally used to assist breastfeeding mothers with engorgement or unpleasant breast swelling.

Chasteberry accomplishes its medicinal effects, however, by acting directly on the pituitary gland to reduce prolactin release. When a breastfeeding mother’s prolactin levels decrease, her milk production often decreases as well. Therefore, it is not recommended that nursing moms take chasteberry supplements throughout lactation. If you’re seeking a herb to reduce the inflammation associated with engorgement, turmeric is a well-researched choice that has no negative impact on milk production.

4. Bromocriptine, methergine, and pseudoephedrine

Certain medications interfere with breastfeeding. Pseudoephedrine (the key ingredient in Sudafed and similar cold drugs), methergine (frequently used to treat severe uterine hemorrhage after childbirth), and bromocriptine (Parlodel or Cycloset, used for a range of health concerns) have been demonstrated to reduce milk production.

If your supply has run out and you find you’ve taken one of the pills on this list, consult your physician about alternative treatments for your cold or other health condition. Increased breastfeeding, supplementation with lactogenic herbs and foods, and potentially further pumping will assist you in re-establishing your milk production.

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