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MamaMerkle126
Did fenugreek work for *you*??
February 21, 2013 at 10:54 PM

Hi ladies,

I've been having problems BFing and I have to pump and dump for a little while. My milk supply plummeted, and my IBCLCs started me on fenugreek. I feel like I'm taking a SHITLOAD of it... three 610mg capsules three times a day, up from two a day, as they suggested. But my body hasn't responded to it at ALL, my supply is still devastatingly low, and now I'm getting mild headaches every day.

Has anyone else had problems with fenugreek, or is it supposed to work? I wasn't sure if it just doesn't work the same for everyone, because all I've ever heard is that it makes your milk supply go nuts. I have to visit the CLCs next week but I was just wondering if other BFers have tried fenugreek and had no success with it...

Replies

  • FrumpyMama
    February 21, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    It does work, but the trouble is that pumping isn't the same a nursing.  I couldn't pump worth a darn with my son despite taking all the supplements. It was easier with my dd, but still not the same.  What you get when you pump, isn't what you are actually making as frustrating as that sounds. I would slow that down and take one pill three times a day, especially if you are getting headaches. It's better to slowly build up to what works. 

    What medication are you taking that is causing you to pump and dump? 

  • MamaMerkle126
    February 22, 2013 at 12:31 AM

    I'm on Bactrim DS, an antibiotic for wound cellulitis that I contracted after my C-section. My OB, the babies' pediatrician, my father (a doctor also), and both my IBCLCs all said not to nurse on this antibiotic. I definitely checked because my OB said the same about the last antibiotic I tried (that didn't help) and everyone else said I *could* BF on it. A lot of women on here said my doctors and CLCs are wrong about the Bactrim, but I'm not comfortable going against the advice of that many professionals...

    The reason I'm even taking the 5000+mg of fenugreek a day in the first place is the CLCs... they said to start with two capsules 3x a day and work up to 3/3x after a week or so. :-\


    Quoting FrumpyMama:

    It does work, but the trouble is that pumping isn't the same a nursing.  I couldn't pump worth a darn with my son despite taking all the supplements. It was easier with my dd, but still not the same.  What you get when you pump, isn't what you are actually making as frustrating as that sounds. I would slow that down and take one pill three times a day, especially if you are getting headaches. It's better to slowly build up to what works. 

    What medication are you taking that is causing you to pump and dump? 



  • FrumpyMama
    February 22, 2013 at 12:39 AM

    Go with what you are comfortable with, but know that you will have a hard time with nursing afterwards. Make sure you are using a bottle that is most like breast and be ready for complications and frustrations. I'm sorry you contracted such a horrible bacteria so soon afterwards. 

    Quoting MamaMerkle126:

    I'm on Bactrim DS, an antibiotic for wound cellulitis that I contracted after my C-section. My OB, the babies' pediatrician, my father (a doctor also), and both my IBCLCs all said not to nurse on this antibiotic. I definitely checked because my OB said the same about the last antibiotic I tried (that didn't help) and everyone else said I *could* BF on it. A lot of women on here said my doctors and CLCs are wrong about the Bactrim, but I'm not comfortable going against the advice of that many professionals...

    The reason I'm even taking the 5000+mg of fenugreek a day in the first place is the CLCs... they said to start with two capsules 3x a day and work up to 3/3x after a week or so. :-\


    Quoting FrumpyMama:

    It does work, but the trouble is that pumping isn't the same a nursing.  I couldn't pump worth a darn with my son despite taking all the supplements. It was easier with my dd, but still not the same.  What you get when you pump, isn't what you are actually making as frustrating as that sounds. I would slow that down and take one pill three times a day, especially if you are getting headaches. It's better to slowly build up to what works. 

    What medication are you taking that is causing you to pump and dump? 




  • BlessedMammaof2
    February 22, 2013 at 12:51 AM
    It worked for me but I was nursing directly and only pumping occasionally. How frequently are you pumping? Aim for at least every two hours during the day and every three hours at night. Normal pump output is 0.5-2 ounces from both breasts. Pumps just aren't as efficient as nurslings. Stay very well hydrated and maintain adequate caloric intake. Just before you pump I would do lots of skin to skin contact with baby. Have him/her close by to help stimulate production. Also might try eating oats. A bowl or two of steel cut oats each day. There are also a number of teas specifically for lactating mothers that may help. Best wishes.
  • babymine
    February 22, 2013 at 1:18 AM
    It worked for me, but it gave my baby tummy issues.
  • Baby_Avas_Momma
    February 22, 2013 at 8:09 AM
    I understand you want to trust your doctors, but per Lactmed and Dr. Hale, that med is safe to take while nursing as long as your baby was full term and healthy. There's really no disputing what Lactmed and Dr. Hale says about meds, they're the "bible" of breastfeeding and meds.
    How often are you pumping and how much are you getting?
  • K8wizzo
    by K8wizzo
    February 22, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    This.

    You need to be pumping every 2 hours around the clock, for 15-20 minutes per session or for 2-5 minutes after you see the last drops (whichever comes first).  The correct dosage of fenugreek is 3 pills, 4x a day (so TWELVE per day).  When you pump, massage your breasts for a couple of minutes before you start, then as you're pumping massage and do compressions anytime the flow slows down.  It will help to look at a picture of babies as you're pumping and to do a blanket exchange: wrap babies in a blankets (so they smells like babies) and put two on your chest (so they smell like you).  When you pump, put the babies blankets on your shoulders so that you can smell them as you pump and wrap them in the blankets that smell like you so that they get the comfort of smelling your milk.

    Quoting Baby_Avas_Momma:

    I understand you want to trust your doctors, but per Lactmed and Dr. Hale, that med is safe to take while nursing as long as your baby was full term and healthy. There's really no disputing what Lactmed and Dr. Hale says about meds, they're the "bible" of breastfeeding and meds.
    How often are you pumping and how much are you getting?


  • lizzieiguana
    February 22, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    fenugreek when paired with milk thistle works a LOT better.

    personally, I needed to add FAT to my diet. The instant I did, DS slept better, and was fuller faster. Don't look for engorgement as a way to gauge how you are producing.

    chicken broth - full fat, made at home - pm if you want directions - is far better for you than oatmeal. I eat 4 eggs in the AM, and sometimes in the afternoon, too.

    headaches? you need to drink water. try 8 oz on the ho]ur, or 4 oz every  1/2 hour. I gauged it - 10 sips is 8 oz. 11 for the full 8oz. oh yes, not drinking enough water (your body's version of not enough, not yours! : ) will affect your supply negatively too

  • maggiemom2000
    February 22, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    You do need to take a lot! In addition, see if you can inprove your pumping technique and output.

    I agree that it would be riskyto take the Bactrim knowing baby's age.

    Watch this video on maximizing pum output:

    http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastfeeding/MaxProduction.html

    Here's the best dosing info on fenugreek

    http://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/herbs/fenugreek/

    Effect on milk production

    Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) appears to be the herb that is most often used to increase milk supply. It has been reported to be an excellent galactagogue for some mothers, and has been used as such for centuries. The few studies that have been done have had mixed results [Swafford 2000, Reeder 2011, Turkyılmaz 2011] . Keep in mind that in almost all cases, non-pharmaceutical methods of increasing milk supply should be tried first, as there can be significant side effects from both herbal remedies and prescription medications used to increase milk supply. See the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s protocol #9 on the use of galactogogues.

    Mothers generally notice an increase in production 24-72 hours after starting the herb, but it can take two weeks for others to see a change. Some mothers do not see a change in milk production when taking fenugreek.

    Dosages of less than 3500 mg per DAY have been reported to produce no effect in many women. One way reported to determine if you’re taking the correct dosage is to slowly increase the amount of fenugreek until your sweat and urine begin to smell like maple syrup. If you’re having problems with any side effects, discontinue use and consider alternative methods of increasing milk supply.

    Fenugreek has been used either short-term to boost milk supply or long-term to augment supply and/or pumping yields. There are no studies indicating problems with long-term usage. Per Kathleen Huggins “Most mothers have found that the herb can be discontinued once milk production is stimulated to an appropriate level. Adequate production is usually maintained as long as sufficient breast stimulation and emptying continues” [Huggins].

    Dosages often suggested:

    (check with your lactation consultant and medical care provider for information specific to your individual circumstances)

    capsules
    (580-610 mg)
    • 2-4 capsules, 3 times per day
    • 6-12 capsules (total) per day
    • ~1200-2400 mg, 3 times per day (3.5-7.3 grams/day)
    • German Commission E recommends a daily intake of 6 grams
    capsules
    (500 mg)
    • 7-14 capsules (total) per day
    powder or seeds
    • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon, 3 times per day
    • 1 capsule = 1/4 teaspoon
    • can be mixed with a little water or juice
    tincture
    1-2 mL, 3 times per day (see package directions)
    tea
    one cup of tea, 2-3 times per day

    Safety

    Fenugreek is used to flavor artificial maple syrup, and is used as a common food ingredient (curries, chutneys, etc.) and traditional medicine in many parts of the world, including India, Greece, China, north Africa and the Middle East. It is a basic ingredient of curry powder (often used in Indian cooking) and the Five Spice mixtures (used in Asian cooking). It is also eaten as a salad and sprouted.

    Fenugreek is considered safe for nursing moms when used in moderation and is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s GRAS list(Generally Recognized As Safe). As with most medications and herbs, various side effects have been noted; see the side effects and safety information below.

    Per Hale [Hale 2012], “The transfer of fenugreek into milk is unknown, untoward effects have only rarely been reported.” Hale classifies it in Lactation Risk Category L3 (moderately safe).

    Possible side effects and cautions

    • Sweat and urine smells like maple syrup; milk and/or breastfed baby may smell like maple syrup.
    • Occasionally causes loose stools, which go away when fenugreek is discontinued.
    • Use of more than 100 grams of fenugreek seeds daily can cause intestinal distress and nausea (recommended dose is less than 8 grams per day).
    • Repeated external applications can result in undesirable skin reactions [Wichtl 1994].
    • Ingestion of fenugreek seeds or tea in infants or late-term pregnant women can lead to false diagnosis of maple syrup urine disease in the infant due to presence of sotolone in the urine. See [Korman 2001] and other studies on fenugreek and maple syrup urine smell.

    Use with caution or avoid if you have a history of:

    • Peanut or chickpea allergy: Fenugreek is in the same family with peanuts and chickpeas, and may cause an allergic reaction in moms who are allergic to these things. Two cases of fenugreek allergy have been reported in the literature. [Patil 1997Ohnuma 1998Lawrence 1999]
    • Diabetes or hypoglycemia: Fenugreek reduces blood glucose levels, and in the few studies using it as a hypoglycemic, also reduces blood cholesterol. Dosages higher than the recommended one (given above) may result in hypoglycemia in some mothers [Heller]. If you’re diabetic (IDDM), use fenugreek only if you have good control of your blood glucose levels. While taking this, closely monitor your fasting levels and post-prandial (after meals) levels. Mothers with hypoglycemia should also use fenugreek with caution. For more on fenugreek and glucose levels, see the references below.
    • Asthma: Fenugreek is often cited as a natural remedy for asthma. However, inhalation of the powder can cause asthma and allergic symptoms. Some mothers have reported that it worsened their asthma symptoms. [Dugue 1993HugginsLawrence 1999].

    Drug interactions

    • Oral drugs or herbs taken at the same time as fenugreek may have delayed absorption due to the mucilage content of fenugreek. [Wichtl 1994]
    • Glipizide and other antidiabetic drugs
      Fenugreek reduces blood glucose levels and may enhance the effects of these drugs.
    • Insulin
      Fenugreek reduces blood glucose levels, so insulin dosage may need to be adjusted.
    • HeparinWarfarin and other anticoagulants
      Ticlopidine and other platelet inhibitors
      The fenugreek plant contains several coumarin compounds. Although studies have not shown any problems, it potentially could cause bleeding if combined with these types of drugs.
    • MAOIs
      Fenugreek contains amine and has the potential to augment the effect of these drugs.

    Drug Interaction References: 
    [Wichtl 1994]
    Fenugreek drug interactions from Healthnotes

    Fenugreek drug interactions from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center


  • Denisethedaring
    February 22, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    I never tried it but a friend of mine did--she said that other than making her milk smell mightily of licorice, it didn't seem to do anything for her either way.

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