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Question about Fenugreek - fussy baby??

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I am going back to work in 2 wks, and have not built up a stash of milk, in fact when I pump, very little comes out. About 3 days ago I began to take Fenugreek - 6 capsules a day (600 mg per capsule). The suggested dosage on the label says 2 capsules 2 to 3 times per day. Natures Way is the brand.

It may be coincidence, but I have been gassy since I began the fenugreek, and my LO has been out of control fussy. He is pulling off my breast, digging his feet into me, and sleeping very poorly. He is also gassy, but has been since birth. Apart from gas and a late afternoon fussy period each day (which is markedly worse the last 3 days), he is otherwise very healthy - gaining well with lots of wet diapers and mustardy stools.

My pumping output has not increased (yet), but is there a connection between my starting the fenugreek and my sons excessive fussiness? He is 7 wks old today, so I know he may be in the midst of his 6 wk growth spurt.

I wish I knew. I am always so filled with self-doubt about my breast feeding abilities, and my abilities as a mother, when I can not soothe my child.

Thanks for listening -
post #2 of 11
I took fenugreek for awhile and had a similar response with the babe - fussy, gassy, poor sleeping. An herbalist told me that about 20% of moms and babies have a bad reaction to fenugreek. I switched to Goat's Rue (Motherlove brand) which seemed to work but it's expensive.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
I took fenugreek for awhile and had a similar response with the babe - fussy, gassy, poor sleeping. An herbalist told me that about 20% of moms and babies have a bad reaction to fenugreek. I switched to Goat's Rue (Motherlove brand) which seemed to work but it's expensive.
Thanks for the quick response. I suspected as much. Do you remember how long after you stopped the fenugreek that your babe stopped the fussy behavior? I am feeling pretty bad about possibly making my babe so uncomfortable, all in the name of trying to increase my supply
post #4 of 11
Oh wow... I started taking an herbal tea made by Weleda (their Nursing Tea) last night. Its first and main ingredient is Fenugreek. I took another strong cup this morning. Lo and behold, my already fussy, gassy, colicky, reflux-y baby woke up around noon today with horrid gas pain. He's been impossible to console every since. It's definitely a reaction to something.

No more of this tea for me!! I'm so incredibly glad I found this post, as I otherwise thought it was a sudden reaction to goat cheese, which I've been eating for about 5 days. I hope it's not goat cheese. It's one of the only things still in my diet....
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
I started taking an herbal tea made by Weleda (their Nursing Tea) last night. Its first and main ingredient is Fenugreek. I took another strong cup this morning. Lo and behold, my already fussy, gassy, colicky, reflux-y baby woke up around noon today with horrid gas pain. He's been impossible to console every since. It's definitely a reaction to something.
My babe had the same reaction. DH and I were walking with him up and down the halls until after 1am - normally my babe goes down at 9pm like a dream. He seemed to be on "overload" - almost like he drank a strong cup of expresso - his limbs were jerking around, he was gassy, and wide eyed when he should be tired. He is much better today, and I did not take fenugreek this morning. Hope your babe feels better soon!
post #6 of 11
Yeah, I even wonder if my thinking my LO was fussy after eating was because he was still hungry was more because of the fenugreek.

In response to your question, it seemed like it took several days for the fenugreek to get out of my system. The bad thing was, I'd taken it for a couple of weeks, all the while pumping and storing milk, so all the fenugreek milk was in the freezer but I wasn't really sure which it was. I couldn't bring myself to pitch it, so we just used it. It didn't seem like a once a day bottle with fenugreek milk bothered him that much.

Our doula also said that she hates to see moms go on fenugreek since so many have problems with it - too harsh on the stomach in the doses you have to take to increase supply.

Have you tried acupuncture? That seemed to work for me to increase my supply and you don't have to ingest anything.
post #7 of 11
wow. again, thanks for this thread. now i know what's causing the gassiness in our house
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
ElisMum - I threw out the 4 oz of milk I pumped while taking Fenugreek - I did not want to risk it! I am happy to say that last night my babe slept so much better, and his gassiness is back to his usual amount - not the explosive, gut-wrenching attack he had while I took the Fenugreek.

You mentioned Goats Rue - and I am intrigued. I'll look it up, but right now I think I am scared to take anything. Anything you can share about your experience taking it, please let me know - has it increased your supply? Any side effects for you or babe? You can PM me if you prefer - thanks!
post #9 of 11
Both my child and myself got really gassy on Fenugreek. So after a week or two I stopped using it. I think it took a couple days to get out of my system.

I've heard that Goat Rue can actually mess up your system, so you may want to avoid that. Here are some other options that may work for you.

If you are interested in galactogogues (things to increase milk production), Here is a list I acquired a couple years ago off my pumping Yahoo group. Here is the complete list with some notes about what they are supposed to do plus cautions and things to look out for if you take them.

Safe and relatively safe galactogogues:

fenugreek - Start with 1 cap, 3x a day and work your way up. Typical dose is
2-3 caps 3x a day. Do not take it if you or baby has a peanut allergy because fenugreek is related to chick pea (both are legumes) and often people with an allergy to a legume will have an allergic reaction to fenugreek. Discontinue if baby gets diarrhea. Sometimes makes moms gassy but taking it in combination with blessed thistle often counteracts that. Also can make baby gassy and/or irritable. Fenugreek has a hypoglycemic effect so watch for symptoms especially if you are hypoglycemic or have diabetes. Do NOT take while pg as it's a uterine stimulant!

blessed thistle - one of the better ones. Works well in combination with fenugreek. Be careful if you have hay fever type allergies as it can aggravate them.

oatmeal - use in any form; quantity needed varies. Like many galactogogues, it's considered good for stomach ailments, is alkaloid and has a high GI index. Other than that, no one knows why it works though we do know that it increases the amount of testosterone in the blood.

Brewer's Yeast - High in B12 which is a vitamin we use up in great quantities when under stress. (No, it's not the same yeast that causes thrush.) You can use other sources of B12 instead. The pills aren't as hard to get down as the powder which tastes disgusting.

protein - in any form. similar theory as to why it work work as for brewer's yeast.

Mother's Milk Tea-- usually contains some combination of fennel seeds, coriander seeds, chamomile flowers, lemongrass, borage leaves, blessed thistle leaves, star anise, comfrey leaves, and fenugreek seeds; some formulations contain mint which can be drying to some women (see below for list of what some of these things are and what they might do)

marshmallow (the herb, not the candy with the similar name) - works for some women for reasons I have not been able to determine.

Red Raspberry LEAF tea (not raspberry flavor which usually doesn't even come from raspberries or so I'm told by a chemist I know) - this is generally recommended for any sort of "female problems". It is high in calcium and vitamin C which is good while nursing.

alfalfa - be careful if you have hay fever-type allergies as it can aggravate them. I can't remember why this one is supposed to work. Guess I need to check the archives because it's been posted here before.

Evening Primrose Oil or Flax Seed Oil - have essential fatty acids which we often don't get enough from food. Therefore even if it doesn't increase supply, it will give your milk more of the "good" kind of fats. The theory is that it improves your hormonal status and that allows you to make milk more efficiently. EPO in particular is a naturally occurring prostoglandin,
(which is why it's recommended as a vaginal suppository to help ripen the cervix post-term in the pg woman).

fennel - I'm not sure why it's considered a galactogogue but it gets recommended a lot and seems to work for some. Like a lot of galactogogues, it is supposed to be good for stomach ailments.

Saw Palmetto - not recommended very often but most supermarkets carry it so it's easy to get which is a plus in its favor. Again it is supposed to be good for stomach ailments.

root beer
(brewed from the actual root, not the commercial stuff) - Not sure where this recommendation comes from either but we talked about it on the Pump List before and I vaguely recall that whatever the logic was made a certain amount of sense.

anise seed - don't know why it's considered a galactogogue or how well it really works. It's also supposed to be good for stomach ailments.

dill - don't know why it's considered a galactogogue or how well it really works

Basil - don't know why it's considered a galactogogue or how well it really works

cress - don't know why it's considered a galactogogue or how well it really works

There is a table in Ruth Lawrence's new book (Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession 5th edition) of possible ingredients in Mother's Milk Tea and the toxic side effects The list is on pg. 375:

Fennel Seed- weak diuretic, stimulant - Toxicity-CNS disturbances

Coriander seed- Increases flow of saliva and gastric juices Toxicity-Not listed

Chamomile Flower - Sudorific antispasmodic - Toxicity-vomiting, vertigo

Lemongrass- Lemon flavor - Toxicity-Not listed

Borage Leaf- Diuretic, sudorific, euphoric - Toxicity-Possible. See below for some more dangers.

Blessed thistle leaf - Aperitif, galactagogue, diaphoretic Toxicity-Strongly emetic

Star Anise - Stimulant, mild expectorant - Toxicity-Not listed

Comfry Leaf
- Used as mucilage to knit bones, weak sedative, demulcent, astringent - Toxicity- venoocclusive disease, hepatotoxic

Fenugreek Seed- Digestive tonic, galactogogue, uterine stimulant, reduces blood sugar - Toxicity- Hypoglycemia, can induce labor

Coffee plant- Stimulant, diuretic, coloring - Toxicity- Insomnia, restlessness

Blue Cohosh
- Oxytocic, potent, acts on voluntary and involuntary muscles - Toxicity-Irritant, causes pain in fingers and toes

The following galactogues are sometimes recommended but can be dangerous for large quantities of women and babies:

Lactuca Virosa (aka as Wild Lettuce) - it is actually a narcotic, a sedative and resembles mild opium. Some herbalists use it to treat anxiety and insomnia and pain. However, it is not recommend for bfing moms because it really isn't a galactogogue. It *may* help temporarily due to it's relaxation qualities (i.e., it might help if you have a letdown problem due to stress or tension but not to actually improve your ability to make milk). But the chances are high that you'll get a very doped up baby and mom in a short period of time.

Goat's rue - generally not recommended for humans at all because of all the side-effects. Here is an excerpt from the "Encyclopaedia of Herbs" by Nico Vermeulen copyright 1998.

"Cows that eat goat's rue either give more milk or never give milk again. If they eat the herb before it has flowered, they produce more milk but when the plant flowers, it secretes a nervous toxin (galegin) from the roots throughout the plant which can kill cattle. The botanical name is derived from the Greek and refers to the lactation stimulation of the herb. The herb was used from early times to help women lactate and also to reduce the blood sugar level, aid digestion, and as a diuretic. The plant can be dangerous and is virtually unheard of in present day medical use."

Borage - This should not be taken by bfing moms because it can cause liver damage in the BABY. It could actually cause liver damage in the mom but it's more likely to affect the baby because the liver is one of the organs that is immature in babies. It's probably okay in the quantity that it appears in Mother's Milk Tea but it would be better if you got a blend that didn't have it and you shouldn't take it alone in any significant quantity.

As long as we are talking about galactogogues, let's talk about the opposite. Here are some things to avoid as they tend to suppress milk production:

Sage Thyme Mint (note: some "cinnamon" candies are actually made with mint oils) Decongestants Oregano cabbage leaves in the bra (but you can eat cabbage) Birth Control pills

Everything but birth control pills hurt milk production because they are drying. With birth control pills, it's the hormones. Combination pills almost always affect supply although the older the baby gets, the less chance of them doing that. Some women find they can take them okay once their baby is past a year old.

The mini-pill (and related bc like Depo-Provera) is generally considered okay though there is anecdotal evidence that for *some* women they impact supply. Also, they should *never* be taken before 6 weeks postpartum as it's the withdrawal of progesterone following the pg that signals the body to make milk. If you take the progesterone pill or shot during that time, your body gets an opposite signal.

Also, while sage, thyme, mint, etc are drying, usually in the quantities that most moms consume them in, they make no noticeable difference. So having a mint candy once in a while (which is mostly sugar and hardly any mint) is probably okay but if you've been guzzling mint tea or something, you might want to stop. Sometimes a typical Thanksgiving meal has enough combination of all these spices that some moms do notice a supply drop the next day.
post #10 of 11
Here are a few more ideas from my PumpMoms sight. A lot of them are repeats from the above post:

Supply boosters:

* More frequent pumps, and pumping even after milk stops coming

* Drink LOTS of water. I find I get about 2 oz. less in the morning if I don't keep a bottle of water near the bed at night and drink when I wake up thirsty. Or if you're not thirsty often, keep water nearby and drink every time you think you can tolerate it without feeling like you've had too much.

* Eat oatmeal. If you're sensitive, just eating Cheerios or Lucky Charms might be enough (they're oat-based), otherwise try instant oatmeal, and if that doesn't work, go for the real deal. You can also be sure to buy oat-based breads, or replace up to 1/4 of the flour in most bread recipes with oat flour (which you can make at home by blending oatmeal in a blender or food processor). Or if you're desperate, do "chocolate no-bake cookies" ... not the most healthy but if you're nursing and needing extra calories anyway, they can work. Oatmeal muffins and other oatmeal cookies are also options.

* Barley is another great supply-booster. You can have it in soups, let it sprout for a day or two and drink the barley water, or have beer--Guinness is apparently the best for boosting supply. You can also try one of the barley-based coffee substitutes, such as Pero or Roma.

* "Mother's milk tea" is good - it includes herbs that are helpful

* Fenugreek and cumin are spices that are supposed to help, although you need quite a bit to notice a difference

* Goat's Rue Herb can also help. Steep 1 tsp. in 1 cup water, strain. # cups daily. Worked GREAT for my friend, especially when used with Fenugreek caps. Historically it was used to increase milk production in livestock something like 20-50% (information above contradicts this)

* Cinnamon helps some people's supply and hurts others.

* Avoid supply-reducers... stress, mints (e.g., Altoids peppermint), cold medications like Sudafed, and I forget others at the moment

* If you really need a boost, you can also try power pumping - pump for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, pump for 10, rest for 10, etc.

* For long term supply, it's better to pump more frequently. You'll have better supply over time if you get 2 oz. in each of four pumping sessions than if you wait until you're engorged and get 4 oz. in two pumping sessions.

* It's important to pump or breastfeed regularly the first 3-4 months when your milk production is more hormone-driven than supply/demand driven. This establishes a good supply for after the 3-4 month mark when your hormones shift.

Other things that help are:

* Massage your breasts before and during pumping

* Pump in a warm room

* Put something warm directly on your breasts--maybe a warm rice sock, or a washcloth (if you're sure it won't get cold)

* Look at a picture of baby while pumping, or if you're pumping at home instead of work, look at your baby and imagine how hungry she must be--that usually gives me a letdown

* Relax when pumping... get calm as possible and imagine yourself at a beach or sauna or other warm, relaxing location of your choice


I have seen a lot of posts recently regarding increasing supply and
thought I would share, the little I have learned (through a nursing
strike and significant drop, 50%+, in supply).

BEER (malta)
Regarding the question about beer increasing supply, among hispanics
there is a drink called Malta which is claimed to increase supply.
It looks like dark beer, and comes in a beer shaped bottle with a
yellow label. It can be found in many ethnic convenience stores (you
know, the ones around the block). Each bottle is sold separately,
but costs less than a beer, .50�, and probably just as effective and
is non-alcoholic. If you have found that beer makes a difference for
you, this may be a good choice. I just don't like the taste of beer
so I have not been able to try this one.

I have personally used oatmeal and seen an increase. I have bought a
powdered form of oatmeal and make a vanilla-flavored milkshake out of
it. I think eating/drinking 2 a day has helped. The thing here is
that it is nutritious, cost effective (for anyone concerned w/ the
cost of other galactogogues), with no side effects.

Fenugreek worked for me but made ds and I very gassy. I have recently
heard that combining fenugreek and blessed thistle prevents
gassiness. If I ever run into supply issues again, I will try this
combo. I personally had to take 12 caplets a day to see an effect --
essentially, I had to start smelling like maple syrup and sweating,
sweating buckets.

POWER PUMPING and breastfeeding
I have seen some posts expressing concern about timing. If your baby
feeds every 2 hours, pump immediately after feeding to empty the
breast. If no mm comes out, pump for 5 minutes just to signal a
demand. Then pump half an hour later for 5 minutes OR until the flow
stops. If you baby feeds every 3+ hours, pump immediately after
feeding, then pump for 20 minutes w/in an hour. The latter may
reduce the next breasfeeding, but your baby will just nurse again
earlier than the 3 hours (in essence reducing your pumps).

Our babies are more efficient than a pump, so if you pump 4oz, and
your baby is happy, you be sure that he has nursed 6 or more oz (just
like from a bottle). If you pump out 2oz before nursing, your baby
will still demand 6oz, and signal your body appropriately, and feed
more frequently which is what you are trying to do. I suggest a long
weekend (3-4 days) and be prepared to be a COW, attached to
something/someone all those days. Don't do anything else (as if).

ONE MORE THING (my note - One of the people in my LLL group got over 1/2 her dc supply this way - it took awhile to build it up)
Always pump after the first AM feeding (especially if earlier than
6am). Your mm levels are usually highest in the am. Or add a pump
in the middle of the night, like two am, if you have had at least 4
hours of rest. It kills me to do this but I get a lot of mm at 3am.

The thing about increasing your supply is that for many of us we will
not notice a change right away; after all, it took most of us 3 days
to have milk come in after pregnancy. We become discouraged and say
that this doesn't work for me, but any amount of increase adds to our
peace of mind.

One thing I found interesting is that the local health store sells
fenugreek as a nutritional supplement. I personally believe that any
of these galactogogues/more water/vitamin supplements/oatmeal makes
your body less stingy and more apt to produce more and better mm,
rather than just what is needed to get by. I have noticed that my mm
is creamier. It is nice to keep up with demand, but it is really nice to
see those big globs of cream sitting at the top of those bottles.


I hope some thing here helps you.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you Koloe!!
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