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How long does Fenugreek take to increase milk production?

(13 Posts)
loueytb3 Tue 02-Aug-11 11:29:41

Have been taking 2x tablets 3x a day since Saturday and have seen no noticeable improvement in milk production (I'm expressing). I do smell a bit maple syrup-like which suggests I'm taking enough. It is very warm at the moment so it's possible that is affecting things too.

mejon Tue 02-Aug-11 15:02:03

Well I've been taking 3 x 3 times a day since a week last Friday and I have noticed no increase either. I'm expressing and I'm lucky to get 1 or 2 oz a time. I was smelling very strongly of curry within a day or so though. Not sure if my lack of supply is down to my period returning a few weeks ago (DD2 is now exactly 6 months old). I've just bought another pot and I'm going to keep going until it runs out then give up I think. Having said that, I've also been BFing DD and she seems to be getting enough - coming off then going back on again for more with no coaxing.

TruthSweet Tue 02-Aug-11 23:44:52

When I did fenugreek I took 4 x 610mg three times a day and it took 48 hours to work. By that time I reeked of maple syrup and went from a DD to a F cup.

JBrd Wed 03-Aug-11 08:57:22

Do you know if it is possible to start taking fenugreek at a later point? DS is 10 weeks, and I have to do mixed feeding because I don't have enough milk. I didn't know about fenugreek, so I'm wondering if it would work if I start taking it now?

TruthSweet Wed 03-Aug-11 09:11:52

JBrd - I started fenugreek at about 7 weeks so 10 weeks isn't too late, I would think. It doesn't work for everyone and there are other galactolgogues out there.

The thing with fenugreek (and all galactologogues really) is if the milk isn't being removed regularly they won't really make much of a difference barring you getting engorged.

So if you start fenugreek (after looking into it's suitability re. your own/baby's medical history to see if it's not contra-indicated) but only express/bf a few times a day you probably won't see a big difference in the amount of milk made, whereas if you feed/express more frequently the results (if you and fenugreek get on that is!) will hopefully be better.

If you are planning on phasing out top-up/supplemental feeds, have you spoken to a BFC/IBCLC to work out a plan to reduce those feeds?

loueytb3 Wed 03-Aug-11 19:58:05

Truth - sounds as though I need to up the dose then. It may not make any difference though as I am just expressing to try and get a couple of bottles of EBM a day for DS3. I can only fit in 3, sometimes 4 expressing sessions per day. He has just gone up to 5oz bottles and I'm struggling to express enough per day. I was hoping that taking the fenugreek would boost my supply a bit to mean I could still express enough for 2 bottles per day <wishful thinking>

TruthSweet Wed 03-Aug-11 20:53:55

Are you exclusively expressing or expressing to go out/for dad?

If you are expressing exclusively then I'm not so sure that 3/4 pumpings a day is going to be enough to keep your supply ticking along. Some women manage it but they usually only cut down to 3/4 pumpings a day if they manage to keep making the same amount with less pumpings or if they are pump weaning.

Are you using an double electric pump (pref. hospital grade) to double pump? Could you squeeze in an extra session at any time or a block pump? What pump schedule do you follow (e.g. pumping at 7, 1, 5, 9)? I know when I was pumping I was doing a double pump with a Symphony every two hours day and night and that was hellish and I only had the one to look after not three!

Is there anyway your DS could go back to bfing directly or is that not something you want to do or is impossible for him to do?

Generally speaking bf babies (or indeed babies fed on bm) don't need to increase their milk as they age (for ages 1-6m that is) as the composition of the milk changes to suit the stage they are at. That's not to say that a baby may need more milk than usual for a few days but that they don't increase like babies exclusively fed formula.

JBrd Wed 03-Aug-11 21:30:26

Truth - I was wondering if fenugreek could help me moving away from the mixed feeding that I have to do at the moment. I don't seem to have enough milk, I had a c-section and also lost a lot of blood, both could be the reason that my milk never came in properly. I breastfeed, but every feed is followed by a bottle, otherwise it's just no enough. I'm lucky in that DS is very happy to feed from the breast, but he will still have 3-4 ounces of formula after each feed. I'm doing baby-led feeding, and he wants feeding about every 2-3 hours - would that be often enough to feel a difference? I don't express at all, as it just doesn't work, I'm lucky if I get 1 oz, and that's from both breasts combined!

Having said that, it's all working quite well now with the mixed feeding, so I wonder if I should bother (never change a winning team...), but part of me really wishes I could stop the bottles and just breastfeed... I'm aware that this is probably not likely to happen anymore, but you never know smile

Snackalot Wed 03-Aug-11 21:52:29

I'm just starting to use fenugreek, in the hope that I'll be able to express more often to freeze, so DH can use it when I start having a social life again!
Generally DS is exclusively bf.
Just wanted to mark my place so I can see how you all get on.

TruthSweet Wed 03-Aug-11 22:14:22

JBrd - 3-4oz is a quite lot of milk post-bf it's after every feed. Generally speaking bf babies aged 1-6m have 19-30oz a day with each baby having their own level (e.g. Baby A might have 20ish oz a day between 1-6m, Baby B might have 29ish oz a day between 1-6m).

How many oz does he have a day in total from the top-ups?

Are you in contact with a BFC or IBCLC? Sorry to repeat the question but as I am only a peer supporter (though just started training to be a BFC) I'm not confident enough help anyone with scaling back/cutting out top-ups and would hate for you to not get the support you deserve.

I'm going to mention another galactogogue but in no way am I suggesting you take this and would strongly recommend you research this re. your own/baby's medical history. This is for information only not advice for you to take this, okay? <have I covered my arse enough yet?>

Goat's Rue may be another option to take as it is purported to increase breast tissue which might be an issue if you got off to a very rocky start with bfing.

Lots of information on herbal galactogogues here and here.

If you have some spare time (ha!) then this might be a worthwhile read.

loueytb3 Thu 04-Aug-11 14:28:23

Truth - I'm expressing so that he gets some BM. Long story, but he had a tongue tie which was not snipped until he was 3 weeks and although he would latch on with nipple shields for a while, after a week or so he basically stopped latching properly and was hurting me. I had to top up every feed anyway as he wasn't getting enough milk (low birthweight and prem baby so weight gain has been an issue). He was dropping down the centiles before I started topping up and he started off on the 2nd centile so he couldn't afford to do that.

I've got a double electric pump and am expresssing at around 7am, 11am and 4.30pm. I was doing a 4th session at 8pm but got so little out it wasn't worth it. The 7am session was until recently in the middle of the night but he is now going through (mostly) and I refuse to get up in the middle of the night to pump. I can get 3.5-4oz at 7am and then it drops down to 2oz by the next pumping.

TruthSweet Thu 04-Aug-11 16:38:12

louey - it sounds like you have had a lot thrown at you and your son. Well done for continuing to give him bm (and I don't mean that in a patronising way!).

I just wonder if you were able to reinstate another expressing session you might see an increase in supply as currently you are going 14.5 hours with out removing milk. Even if you don't get a great amount it might keep you going a bit longer. Perhaps one before your bed time or in front of the TV in the evening? I found if I didn't pay attention to my pumping I made more than if I was just pumping IYSWIM so I'd clip my pump horns into my bra and fling a muslin over the top of them and read/watch TV/chat on the phone and I always made more that way.

One the other hand, if I did compressions during expressing I made more than the 'just pumping' as well.

Have you heard of doing breast massage before pumping to increase oxytocin flow and hand expressed after pumping to remove as much milk as possible? I found if I got out 80mls with a pump (combined that is) I could get another 10-15mls out with hand expressing - it may be just me though!

Snackalot Fri 05-Aug-11 18:27:57

Keep going louey it'll be worth it. I think the fenugreek has kicked in for me now, I am waking up with engorged breasts so am able to express before baby feeds. As truth says, perhaps try to add another expressing session. Breast massage works for me too, milk squirts rather than drips IYKWIM!

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