It is often suggested to use essential oils to increase milk supply, but in truth, this is not safe for breastfeeding moms, or your baby. Many essential oils you use on yourself have the potential to pass through the milk, potentially putting your baby at risk.
Fennel Essential Oil for Boosting Milk Supply?
Fennel essential oil is most recommended as a milk supply booster. Although fennel seed (herbal) is a great option, according to Essential Oil Safety, Fennel has the following safety cautions:
- it's potentially carcinogenic based on estragole content
- can be hepatotoxic (can cause damage to the liver)
- there are drug interactions (can interact with medications)
- it's a reproductive hormone modulator
- may inhibit blood clotting (cause the blood to thin)
- not recommended for use during pregnancy
- not recommended for use during lactation
- not recommended for use on children under age 5
- not recommended for use if you have endometriosis
- not recommended for use if you have estrogen-dependent cancer
- not recommended for use if you have kidney issues, ulcers, or bleeding disorders
- not recommended for use before/after surgery
As you can see, it's not something to mess around with!
Instead, please use safe options (listed below), which are also effective.
Safe and Effective Ways to Boost Milk Supply
First of all, be sure you need to increase milk production before attempting. If your baby is producing 6 or more wet diapers a day, is gaining weight and is happy, you probably have nothing to worry about. If you are unsure please consult a lactation consultant or read this link from KellyMom.
Understand milk production is a supply and demand process, so nurse frequently and let baby nurse as long as possible, draining the breast (if you feel like the baby is not draining breast then you may need to pump after each feeding).
- Get plenty of rest.
- Stay well hydrated.
- Lots of skin to skin contact with baby.
- Drink Mother's Milk tea*
- Make sure you are eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains and other galactagogues which is a food, herb, or supplement that aids breast milk supply.
- Eat oatmeal.
- Eat lactation cookies, you can make these yourself and can find recipes online. The special ingredients are flaxseed and brewers yeast.
- Add garlic to your food.
- Add fennel (the herb) to your food. (Fennel isn’t actually a galactagogue, but rather it assists with triggering the letdown reflex.)
*This tea contains fenugreek. Using fenugreek during lactation is controversial. Please read this information from KellyMom before deciding if it is right for you.
A note about reducing milk supply…
Cabbage leaves have been traditionally used to naturally reduce milk supply, and it's still an option that works in modern times. Simply add a cabbage leaf in your bra, and it will help your milk to dry up.
Drinking Peppermint tea (herbal) has worked for some women to reduce milk supply as they wean their baby.
Using Peppermint essential oil is not recommended.
A note about Clogged Milk Ducts & Mastitis…
We do not recommend using EO's for clogged ducts & mastitis, there are much safer ways than EO's. If you are getting these often it would be wise to look at the cause such as underwire bras, tongue/lip ties, using the same nursing position etc. A few simple remedies would be to change nursing positions, warm compress or shower, right now try dangle feed and the football hold, massage the knot toward the nipple while nursing so baby's suction helps.
Here is a helpful link from Kellymom’s website: Recurrent Mastitis
- Lea’s live chat in our facebook group about Clary Sage and labor as well as Fennel & milk production (you will need to be a member of our Facebook group to view the content)
- Increasing Low Milk Supply by KellyMom
- Dealing with Oversupply by KellyMom