When Heracles was a baby his father Zeus took him from his mortal mother Alcmene and let him nurse at his wife Hera’s breast while she was sleeping. When she awoke she thrust the infant Heracles from her in a rage and milk flooded the night skies, thus creating the milky way. The Greek name for galaxy
|Rubens, Birth of the Milky Way|
Blessedthistle increases the flow of gastric and bile secretion, and is said to increase milk supply by increasing blood flow to the breast tissue. You can get it from health stores as a supplement and should not increase the dose beyond what is recommended as it can act as a purgative in very high doses. For you to harness the digestive benefits you need to have it as a tea or tincture to stimulate your tastebuds with the bitterness.
Safe in pregnancy? No
Nettle Urtica dioica: The function by which nettle improves supply is unknown but there is a long history attached to nettle being an effective milk booster and a number of scientific studies linking it to improved milk output in herd animals. Nettle is a good source for calcium and iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sulfur, zinc, copper, chlorophyll, fatty acids, folate, plus vitamins K, B1, B2, B3, B5, C, and E. The minerals in nettle help build blood, and it is a wonderful tonic in the treatment of iron deficiency. Nettle is a fabulous all rounder to take during pregnancy and post partum as it will help with fatigue, blood loss and deficiency. Traditionally it is taken as a tea but you can eat cooked nettle greens or buy it in supplement form.
Safe in pregnancy? Yes
This is a broader category that encompasses Anise, caraway, cumin, dill, fennel, and lovage. These plants all share similar properties. Umbel seeds are believed to promote supply and let down as well as offering digestive benefits for colic in babies. There are substances in them similar to oxytocin and they are mildly relaxing. In one study, umbel seeds tested on rats generated greater mammary tissue growth than was seen with rats on a control diet. Interesting to note, the seed formation of the umbelliferous plants mimics that of the milk glands and ducts in the breast. Because umbel seeds are aromatic the traditional way of taking them is steeped in tea, up to 3 cups a day.
Safe in pregnancy? Not in high doses but teas are fine.
Tigers milk is frequently recommended to nursing mums to improve supply, if nothing else it provides a nutrient dense meal to help nursing mums along. It’s a recipe first created by Adele Davis, in her book "Lets Get Well" (which was written in about 1970's) and included milk, milk pwder, malt, raw egg, wheatgerm and brewers yeast.
This is my version of her recipe.
Soak overnight: 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, 8 almonds and 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
In the morning strain them and place in blender with 1 banana, ½ teaspoon of raw cacao, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 heaped teaspoon of brewers yeast, a splash of coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Blend until smooth and drink while nursing. You can use any milk or milk analogue you like instead of water but the nuts should provide enough creaminess to omit it if you want to.
and here is my recipe for delicious lactation cookies.