Galactagogues (substances claimed to increase supply)

Galactagogues are foods, herbs or medications that may help to increase breastmilk supply typically by increasing prolactin levels. The use of a galactagogue requires consultation with a lactation consultant and/or medical adviser. 

While there are many substances that have been used by mothers for centuries that are claimed to help them make more breastmilk, there is limited scientific evidence to prove their effectiveness. Many cultures have special foods that are thought to enhance milk production. These vary and may contain active ingredients to fulfil this purpose. However, they have not been formally studied. 

Most mothers are able to produce more than enough milk for their baby(ies), especially when accurate support and information is obtained. The majority of mothers who think that they have a low milk supply problem actually don’t. If you feel you have a low milk supply problem, you may find it helpful to look at our article on increasing your supply and/or call one of our trained breastfeeding counsellors on our Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268.

By far, the most important way to establish and then maintain a good milk supply is for breastmilk to be removed often and well. This is commonly referred to as the supply and demand basis of breastfeeding - meaning the more milk removed from your breasts (and the more often), the more milk they'll make and vice versa.

Galactagogues only work when breastmilk is being removed frequently and effectively from a mother’s breasts. When all factors contributing to a low supply have been identified and addressed to improve a mother's breastfeeding and/or expressing technique, then galactagogues may help to speed up the process. 

For further information

  • Academy of breastfeeding medicine galacagogues protocol (2018)
  • Drug information centres in Australia For further and current information about the use of medicines/drugs (including galactagogues) during breastfeeding (or pregnancy), contact the Medicines Information Centres in your state or the NPS Medicines Line. Click here to find these phone numbers.
  • The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk By Diana West (IBCLC) and Lisa Marasco (IBCLC) is a valuable book that includes a thorough section on galactagogues.
  • ABA's Breastfeeding Information and Research team ABA's Breastfeeding Information and Research team has more detailed and fully referenced articles on galactagogues. These articles can be obtained by ABA professional members or on a fee-for-service basis. For further details, contact the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

 

The information on this website does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

© Australian Breastfeeding Association September 2020

Last reviewed: 
Jan 2019