Photo of Gabriella breastfeeding her daughter

Breastfeeding Mamas Need to Know About Galactagogues!

Every new mother worries about her breastfeeding journey, especially her milk supply. All of us have had that thought - will I produce enough? And whilst lactation is a complex physiological mechanism involving hormonal, physical and emotional factors, a greater practical awareness and understanding of even a small piece of the puzzle can help reassure us and ease some of our apprehensions. So, with that, let’s talk about galactagogues.

Stemming from the Greek word galacta, meaning milk, galactagogues refers to substances that promote lactation initiation, maintenance or augmentation of the rate of milk production. They work by increasing the levels of prolactin in the body- a hormone that is responsible for stimulating the growth and development of the mammary tissue in preparation for the production of breast milk.

Herbal galactagogues: 

  • Shatavari
  • Fenugreek
  • Fennel
  • Milk thistle
  • Moringa
  • Nettle

Galactagogues can be found in lactogenic herbs, lactogenic foods or lactation supplements. In our Mother Moon range, we have focused on the herbal and food- based galactagogues as a gentle, accessible and natural means to support your breast-milk supply and general post-partum healing. You can spy some of the common galactagogues listen below in Choc Chip Titscuits and Lactation Infusion.

Food galactagogues:

  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Ginger
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Beetroots
  • Seaweed
  • Papaya
  • Dark leafy greens
When we look at traditional post-partum care around the world where generational wisdom is at the core of the culinary nourishment scene after birth, we see a lot of these dishes to be naturally rich in galactagogues.

In Latin America, its garlicky cactus soup spiced with cumin and coriander. In Egypt, it’s moghat- a potently spiced drink of turmeric, rose, coconut and sesame. In Cambodia, it’s cooked rice porridge with meat or fish. In Korea, it’s a seaweed soup with fatty beef brisket and lots and lots of rice. In South India, it’s goat stew with fenugreek leaves. In Nepal, it’s warm wheat semolina with ginger, cumin and turmeric.

Eastern cultures have a real way with knowing how to naturally support the female body through pregnancy and post-partum. These traditional dishes set a wonderful example for post-partum culinary nourishment and it’s no surprise that they all contain at least one galactagogue. The lineage of women in many traditional communities know—through both instinct and inter-generational wisdom— the exact foods and herbs that are going to deeply nourish a new mother and provide her body with the necessary nutrients for optimal breast- milk production. We can glean so much from the East’s prolific use of herbs and spices in tending to those trying to conceive, with child or in their fourth trimester.

Whilst there are many factors that support breastmilk production—nursing often, skin-to-skin, eating enough calories from a nutrient-dense diet—we can never know enough or learn enough about our bodies in this season and it can bring such welcome reassurance when we are armed with practical pieces of information such as the power of galactagogues. In understanding how they work and where we can find them, we feel more empowered through those seemingly small but impactful dietary tweaks that support our milk supply.

Gabriella Stewart x 

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