Galactagogues are pretty popular for those who are wanting to increase milk supply – but they aren’t for everyone. Here is what you need to know, along with 30+ foods, herbs and medications that are known for increasing breast milk supply.
Struggling with milk supply can be a really frustrating – and even devastating – situation to find yourself in.
Many of those who struggle with low milk supply find themselves wanting to do everything they can to increase their supply – and often, they turn to Galactagogues.
Galactagogues are not needed to establish or maintain supply for most mothers. With that said, they can be beneficial in certain situations.
There are a LOT of this milk making foods out there that could potentially help to increase your milk supply. In this post, you’ll find a big list of them along with different ideas on how you can incorporate them into your diet.
The best thing you can do is understand what NORMAL milk supply is and is not – I find that understanding this alleviates a lot of the stress new moms have about their milk supply. In “The Complete Online Breastfeeding Class” I talk about this A LOT, so make sure you check it out. It has everything you need to know about breastfeeding and milk supply, available 24/7 FOR LIFE.
What is a Galactagogue?
A Galactagogue is a food, herb or medication that has components thought to help to increase milk supply. It’s not something that, on it’s own, will establish or maintain your milk supply, but when combined with frequent nursing and/or pumping, they can be useful.
Should I Use a Galactagogue?
Most lactating women don’t need to use a Galactagogue to establish or maintain breastfeeding. In most situations, feeding on demand and regularly is the best thing you can do for your milk supply.
In the following scenarios, Galactagogues – combined with frequent stimulation of the breast – may be advised. Always work with your care provider.
- True low milk supply that doesn’t respond as well to frequent stimulation, such as IGT, hormonal or endocrine conditions, etc. (learn more about low milk supply causes)
- A mother who is hoping to induce lactation in order to feed a child she did not give birth to (such as with adoption)
- Someone who is not able to pump enough milk despite troubleshooting common pumping issues
Foods to Increase Milk Supply
Be sure to download our free printable reference list:
The foods below are great to consider adding into your diet as a lactating mother – regardless of if you have low milk supply or not. They can help keep you feel less starving all the time (so common while breastfeeding) and help you feel good.
Need some meal ideas using these ingredients? Make sure you check out our breastfeeding-friendly meal plan – it has TONS of recipes that are designed to help you maintain you milk supply and heal from pregnancy.
Grains are an important part of any diet, but they can be especially helpful when it comes to a strong milk supply. Oats are especially helpful and are often the base for many “lactation” recipes.
You want to look for complex carbs, such as brown rices, whole wheat pastas, quinoa, etc. Try varied grains as well.
There are many leafy greens out there – I sometimes joke that they are the foods you might have turned your nose up to when you were a child (and maybe even now).
You can incorporate these into salads, smoothies, sandwiches, etc. Here are some popular ones:
- Collard Greens
I don’t know about you, but just about every dinner I make has garlic in some component. It is considered a galactagogue.
Some worry about garlic making their milk taste funny – but honestly, it’s not something that you need to worry about. The taste could potentially transfer to your breast milk, but for the most part, it shouldn’t bother your baby.
Here are a few different ways you could eat carrots
- Carrot Soup
- Roasted Carrots
- Carrots and ranch dressing
- In other stews
- With a roast (along with onions and potatoes)
- Carrot cake
Lots of ways to incorporate coconut into your diet! You could cook with coconut oil, drink 100% coconut water, use coconut milk (so many great recipes out there) or even make an almond coconut smoothie. Yum!
Coconut is why some people think that Body Armor helps with milk supply, but I’m a little skeptical about that since it only contains 10% coconut water!
Flaxseed is often an ingredient in lactation cookies. It is also great when added to smoothies.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t have a very long shelf life. I buy it in small amounts from Sprouts.
It needs to be ground before eating (you can buy it pre-ground) or you can even buy flax seed oil. It has a nutty flavor. Other ways to incorporate it:
Nuts can provide some great healthy fats into your diet. Almonds what I see most commonly cited as a galactagogue. I love almond butter, personally!
- You can get these in capsule form
- Add to salads or sandwiches
Salmon is one of the few fishes that I actually enjoy eating. I recommend getting wild caught salmon if you can (have you heard of Butcher Box? They are a great place to get delicious and responsibly sourced salmon).
- Lemon juice
- Olive Oil
- Panko crusted
Great when put in sauces and Italian foods. I actually really like adding basil to my pesto.
Chickpeas are also referred to as Garbanzo beans – so you could get them in the form of hummus! Yum! We also like adding them to salads, nachos, and even just adding a little salt and pepper and snacking on them throughout the day. I have gotten these crispy chick peas before, and they are delicious.
I also really enjoy Banza’s protein pasta – it’s SO good, and it’s made from chick peas!
Great in Italian sauces. You can actually take these in capsule form as well. I know some people recommend it when you take Fenugreek, as it can help settle your stomach.
This tastes awful on it’s own, but it is often used in lactation goodies and smoothies. I would definitely not just eat a big spoonful, though!
However, Mommy Knows Best has developed a fantastic debittered brewer’s yeast (original and chocolate flavored) that you might want to consider. Get 15% off anything on their website with the code BFMAMA15.
Another great seasoning to cook with!
These are different herbs that you will commonly find recommended for one reason or another. Please make sure you are working with a medical professional before incorporating these into your diet.
Fenugreek is one of the first things people tend to think of when considering galactagogues to increase milk supply .
It can be effective and many mothers find it useful, but there are others who actually see a decrease in supply. Here is some information on the correct dosage and usage.
It can cause an irritated stomach (in both baby and mom), and if you struggle with hypoglycemia or several other issues, you should really avoid it.
It is generally pretty easy to find, and it’s commonly found in breast milk supplements and teas.
This one is actually thought to help increase glandular tissue, so it’s commonly recommended for those struggling with insufficient glandular tissue.
Be aware that this may induce your menstrual cycle.
There are various companies that have developed different supplements that combine some of the galactagogues mentioned above. I haven’t personally used any of these brands, but I have heard of others having pretty good success:
- Mommy Knows Best – best known for their lactation cookies and brownies, they also offer high quality breastfeeding supplements, such as Goat’s Rue and Fenugreek free supplements. You can get 15% off with the code BFMAMA15 (also available on Amazon)
- Legendairy Milk – I actually met the owners of this company a few years back at a Baby Expo in Las Vegas, and I was very impressed. They create Fenugreek-free supplements, and I know a lot of people rave about them!
- Mother Love
- Milk Flow
Treats, Smoothies, and Teas
As with the combination supplements I mentioned above, some companies ave created more “convenient” options for getting some of these supplements into your diet.
You can actually make a lot of these at home for less expensive, but the convenience factor is nice. I sometimes do wonder if the calories from downing a lactation cookie or brownie do more for your supply than what’s in the cookies, but who knows!
Here are a few brands:
- Mommy Knows Best – I have tried these treats and think they are pretty good. They have premade cookies and brownies as well as mixes. They have a lot of really yummy flavors like salted caramel and oatmeal chocolate chip. Remember, you can use the code BFMAMA15 for 15% off anything on their website (also available on Amazon)
- Earth Mama Organics has a great tea to look into. It’s also available on Amazon.
- Milk Flow offers a couple of different lactation drinks
- I have seen Boobie Body recommended a few times for a lactation smoothie powder
- Milk Makers has everything from drink mixes, to crackers, to bars and cookies
This is the final category I will talk about, partially because it really should be a last resort. Any medication needs to be discussed carefully with your medical provider.
This medication is somewhat controversial because the FDA has not approved it in the United States. Many women still get it by ordering it from another country. I’m not saying you should do that, but it is something that is pretty common. I have seen it be very effective for various mothers, and it’s often used for inducing lactation.
If you are considering Domperidone, I would highly recommend reading Dr. Jack Newman’s information on it. He has written at a thorough write up of the drug, it’s benefits, its side effects, etc.
This drug IS available in the United States and commonly prescribed. With that said, I would be very careful with it. There are known serious side effects, such as depression and psychosis. I personally have had horrible side effects from taking it for a non-lactation related reason. However, some take it with no issue. Just be aware of the side effects.
This one isn’t always included in round-ups about lactation related medications, however, there is a lot of anecdotal experiences that show it can be helpful. This is primarily with women who are on it because of diabetes or PCOS who have seen it increase milk supply. If you don’t have a condition that already recommends the use of Metformin, I’m not sure if it’s something that would be recommended just for the sake of milk supply, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Make sure you signup for The Complete Online Breastfeeding Class – it’s a great class to watch while you eat all those cookies!
More Posts You May Enjoy:
- 11 Low Milk Supply False Alarms
- Top Signs of Low Milk Supply to Worry About
- Blue Gatorade for Increasing Milk Supply – Does it Help?
- Seven Tips for a Healthy Breastfeeding Diet and Lifestyle
Katie Clark is a Certified Lactation Educator, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, and IBCLC student. She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.