For every new mother, feeding her newborn baby is the most blissful feeling ever after undergoing all the pain from her labor. The minute she holds her newborn baby in her arms, she forgets all the labor trauma she underwent just sometime back. It is also one of her deepest wishes that she provides the very nutritious breast milk for her baby for as long as she can. For this, the milk supply needs to be good and free-flowing whenever the baby demands it. Having a low supply of breast milk can make the baby hungry even after a feeding session leading to an unsatisfied baby and an even unhappier mother. One of the reasons why most mothers opt for formula milk is because of their low supply of milk. And they obviously not wish to see their baby go hungry. So, if you are a breastfeeding mother and you find yourself low on milk supply, keep this in your mind. There are certain foods that you can consume and certain foods that you should stay away from to increase your milk supply. On the top of the must-have list of foods to increase breast milk supply are Fennel seeds as they contain natural properties that promote lactation. Here is some information about fennel that will help you understand its effects on lactation.
What Is Fennel?
Fennel seeds are obtained from a flowering plant called Foeniculum Vulgare and are one of the popular spice and herb used across various cuisines around the world. In India, it is popularly known as Saunf and is used as an after-meal digestive. Fennel has so many uses in cooking. Powdered fennel is used for flavoring. Fennel oil and fennel seeds are infused with boiled water to aid digestion and also to make flavored teas.
Does Fennel Help In Increasing Milk Supply?
Fennel seeds contain galactagogue properties, which means they help in increasing the supply of breast milk. As per research, it is found that fennel seeds helped to significantly increase milk supply and also known to provide relief from pain in the female genitalia and abdomen.
How Does Fennel Help In Increasing Breast Milk Supply?
- The estrogen level has a significant role in breast milk production. When the estrogen level falls, the breast milk also gets reduced. Therefore, after delivery, the estrogen levels need to be boosted. Fennel contains phytoestrogens, which is similar to the estrogen hormone
- Fennel seeds contain a chemical compound known as Anethole, which is very much similar to Dopamine in the human brain. Prolactin, which is the hormone that incites the breast milk production, when comes in contact with dopamine, becomes ineffective, thereby, affecting the breast milk production. Here Anethole in the fennel seeds helps. As it is similar to dopamine, it binds with the prolactin hormone before dopamine does. This binding will not affect the milk supply as dopamine does. Hence, there will be a natural increase in the supply of breast milk.
How To Consume Fennel During Breastfeeding?
There are many ways in which fennel can be consumed to increase milk supply;
- Chew It: You can consume a small number of raw fennel seeds after every meal like a mouth freshener and a digestive.
- Prepare Tea: Crush some fennel seeds, leaves, and roots and boil it in water for a decoction of fennel tea. Have it three times daily.
- Fennel Oil: Fennel oil can be added to a glass of warm water or your regular tea as it is a rich source of Anethole. You might want to check with a lactation expert about the quantity of oil to be used. It can also be used topically on the breast skin. For this, mix 15 drops of Fennel oil in a tbsp of coconut oil. Take a small amount in your fingers and apply over the breast. Do this during the break between the feeding session.
- Fennel Capsules: If you do not like the taste of fennel, you can also choose to buy tablets and capsules which contain fennel extracts in gelatine form.
- As vegetable: You can even consume fennel roots as it belongs to the carrot family.
- Powdered Fennel: This can be used in various foods as flavorings.
- Blend It: You can blend it with other breast milk boosting herbs like fenugreek
Are There Any Side Effects Of Fennel On Breastfeeding Mothers?
There has been no proven research that states of any side effects of consuming fennel either for the baby or the mother. This is because it is a natural food source and does not cause any problems while breastfeeding. However, it is best to check with your doctor before consuming as your doctor will know your health better.
However, overconsumption of fennel during breastfeeding can bring about some unintended side effects, and it even may decrease breast milk production. Therefore, we recommend consuming fennel seeds with proper medical advice.
Additional Health Benefits Of Fennel
There are several benefits of consuming fennel;
- It aids in digestion and prevents gas formation.
- It helps to lower blood pressure.
- The root of the fennel plant is a rich source of dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamins K, C, and A.
- It has antioxidants that prevent premature aging and also reduces the risk of cancer.
- It reduces the intensity and side effects caused by PCOS and other gynecological problems.
When Should Breastfeeding Moms Avoid Fennel?
There are certain situations when it is best to avoid fennels;
- If you have a history of gynecological issues or cancer.
- If you have a history of seizure. Fennel seeds found to increase its risk.
- If you are on oral contraceptives, fennel seeds are found to reduce the effectiveness of contraceptives.
- If you are experiencing low blood pressure, fennel seeds are found to reduce the blood pressure more in this instance.
- If you are experiencing hypoglycemia. Fennel may further decrease the sugar level
- If you or your newborn baby are allergic to it or other foods such as carrots, coriander, and celery as they all belong to the same family. If your baby shows any symptoms of skin hives, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling in the face, abdominal pain, or shortness of breath, it is possible that the baby is allergic to fennel, However, it is very rare that a human is allergic to fennel.
Fennel has been a trusted source of food to increase breast milk supply in lactating mothers for centuries together. However, you must keep a check on the quantity consumed as anything excess, even if natural, is not advisable. Therefore, having it in its various forms every in small quantity is the key to promote milk supply and also to keep your baby strong and healthy!