Foods and Herbs That Decrease Breast Milk Supply

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Are you wondering what foods decrease milk supply? Whether you are experiencing low milk supply or wanting to decrease milk production this list of foods that decrease milk supply can help. Knowing what foods to avoid during breastfeeding can make it easier to feed your growing baby.

A mother’s priority after giving birth to her baby is the health and growth of the baby. Although breastfeeding takes practice for both mother and baby, it is such a special time to bond.

Breast milk provides babies the much-needed nutrients, antibodies, and other essential components as well as an emotional satisfaction to the mother.

A survey shows that two-thirds of new mothers face different issues while breastfeeding. Mommies try their best to overcome these challenges and provide their babies what is good for their health.

Many women face a problem with low breast milk. If you experience a drop in milk supply, download this free guide to boost your breast milk supply with healthy foods.

Sometimes a drop in milk supply can be just a perceived thought after looking at your baby’s growth and diaper output, but for some mothers at times it can be a real problem.

Many factors may affect breast milk supply. Some of these are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Medications
  • Alcohol
  • Premature childbirth
  • Eating certain foods and herbs

Moms worry about low breast milk supply and often try anything possible to make sure their baby is getting enough milk to fill their baby’s tummy.

Did you know some specific foods and herbs can decrease your breast milk supply?

It is okay to have most of these in small amounts, but if you take these foods and herbs in large quantities, then your baby may not get enough milk to satisfy hunger, thirst, and growth demands.

Sometimes these foods and herbs can be used to help mothers.

If you are producing an excessive amount of milk, you may have a condition called Hyperlactation Syndrome, which can lead to engorgement or mastitis if the milk isn’t removed or production slowed.

The following herbs and foods can help mothers reduce their breast milk if they are struggling with excessive milk supply, or are trying to wean their babies.

{Disclosure: This post contains affiliate or referral links. Read more about that here.} 

Herbs That Decrease Breast Milk Supply

Certain herbs, which we use in food or are often a part of natural remedies, are known to decrease breast milk supply.

If you are using them in food in small amounts, then there is no need to worry about reduced breast milk production.

But it is important to note that if you are using them as natural remedies, especially in supplement form, the quantity is likely more than recommended while breastfeeding.

Some mothers may not experience any difference, while others may notice a drop in supply. Keep an eye on your baby’s weight milestones and diaper output, or your pumping output.  

Peppermint

Peppermint oil is well known for reducing breast milk production. Women take it in different forms, such as peppermint candies, peppermint tea, or direct ingestion of oil to treat fever, headaches, etc.

Eating several real peppermint candies multiple times a day will show its effects in a few days.

However, drinking a cup of peppermint tea will not cause milk reduction. You will have to drink a lot of peppermint tea to notice any decrease in milk supply.

The good thing is peppermint does not have long-lasting effects.

If you stop taking peppermint oil, then you will notice that the milk production is back to normal within 2 to 3 days.  

Parsley

Parsley is a diuretic and a very refreshing herb that people like taking after eating their meals. Due to its diuretic nature, it can induce frequent urination and can cause dehydration.

If a mother is facing dehydration after eating a lot of parsley, then chances are she may notice a reduction in breast milk production.

Eating a reasonable amount of parsley that you may sprinkle on a cooked meal is considered normal and does not have any effect on breast milk production.  

But if you like parsley-rich dishes like tabbouleh, then it is better to avoid eating this dish, reduce the amount you put in the recipe, or how often you consume it. However, you can resume eating it once you are ready to wean your little one.

Sage

Sage may reduce breast milk even in mothers who have been breastfeeding for more than a year with regulated milk supply. You can call sage a natural form of the hormone estrogen. It is well documented for harming the milk production process.

A little amount of sage in a dish may not have much of an effect, but sage tea will.

It even affects more than the peppermint tea, which is why it is recommended to women who are uncomfortable due to an oversupply of breast milk or who want to start weaning their babies.

Jasmine Flowers

Studies have revealed that jasmine flowers can also hurt the milk production process. When freshly picked flowers are crushed and applied on the breasts, they significantly reduce the production of breast milk in women.

This flower is for mothers who are trying to treat the overproduction of breast milk or who may be trying to wean their baby.

Other herbs that may cause a milk supply reduction in some mothers if consumed in large quantities include:

  • cilantro
  • spearmint
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • lemon balm

Fennel seed and verbena leaf are commonly used milk-boosting herbs in Chinese medicine but may cause a decrease in milk supply if used long-term.

A cup of tea or a bite here and there won’t likely affect your supply, but sensitivity to herbs will be different from mother to mother.

Foods and Drinks That Decrease Milk Supply

Like herbs, certain foods also have a similar effect on milk production in mothers.

In general, the following drinks, foods, and vitamins may have a negative impact, especially if a mother is already susceptible to low milk supply.

Although some of these findings are anecdotal, it is still essential to be aware of their possible impacts.

Soft-drinks, Coffee, Black Tea, and Green Tea

These beverages can all cause an elevated level of stress hormones in your body. When mothers consume caffeine to deal with exhaustion, it can sometimes prevent your milk letdown.

An increase in stress hormones can lead to the tightening of the capillaries in the breasts, slowing down the communication of nerves and hormones telling your body to produce milk.

Try drinking decaffeinated tea instead, like oat straw tea, which could boost your milk supply, or a lactation shake mix like this one.

Chocolate

Many mothers crave chocolate while breastfeeding, but if it is being consumed as part of a sugar and caffeine cycle, it can also increase stress hormones and have the same effects on milk production and letdown, as mentioned above.

Consuming it in moderation and eating a healthy diet full of healthy fats, proteins, fruits, and vegetables will help reduce cravings.

This 10 day challenge to conquer sugar cravings while breastfeeding is super helpful for motivation to cut back.

Citrus juice and foods high in citric acid like fresh tomatoes

Foods that have citric acid can be astringent, which causes breast tissue to tighten, leading to a decrease in blood circulation in your breasts.

Astringents can also prevent communication between the nerves and hormones in your body.

Carbonated beverages that include potassium, especially sodas and other soft drinks, could interfere with calcium metabolism, which may affect milk supply.

Cruciferous vegetables

Vegetables of the cruciferous family like cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower contain sulfur, which may make your breast milk less tasty for your baby.

These foods can also cause digestive discomfort and gas in some babies.

If a baby drinks less milk because of the bad taste or they experienced tummy issues from drinking that taste, this may cause your milk supply to decrease.

Cabbage specifically has been used by many women to treat breast engorgement for years.

But cabbage does not reduce milk production if you eat it.

Cabbage leaves are washed, chilled, and placed on the breasts for 15 to 20 minutes. The process is repeated 2 to 3 times a day. This can help if you have engorgement in the early days as your breast milk production regulates, or if you are weaning your baby.

Some women also use cabbage creams that have cabbage extract in them.

If you love eating cabbage, then keep eating, it will not negatively affect your breast milk supply, although some babies may show signs of gastric discomfort if you eat it.

Chasteberry

It is a dried fruit that women may eat without having any idea of its adverse effects on the breast milk production process.

This fruit is used for many reproduction-related problems in women. Mothers who have an issue related to the overproduction of milk also prefer eating this dried fruit.

This fruit shows its effects by directly working on the pituitary gland present in the brain. From there, it reduces the production of prolactin (a hormone that stimulates the production of breast milk in women). As the prolactin levels in the body decrease, the production of milk reduces automatically.

So beware of its use if you are breastfeeding your little one and do not have any adverse effect on his health due to the low supply of breast milk.

Need to make more milk fast? Check out this list of foods to increase milk supply.

How to Tell if Your Baby is Drinking Enough Milk?

Babies who are unable to speak have the power to convey their message without using words. It is up to the parents to understand their unspoken language.

The following signs show that your baby is getting enough breast milk to fill his tummy. 

  • If your baby is wetting his diapers like he used to do before, then it shows he is getting enough milk for healthy growth and development. His diapers will often be filled with poop or pee.
  • Your baby’s weight is either constant or increasing, based on their age. This means that he or she is having a good quantity of milk. Babies may lose up to 10% of their birth weight but should be back at their birth weight by two weeks of age, and steadily increasing in weight going forward.
  • If your baby stays active and does not spend all of his or her time sleeping, then it is also a sign that you are giving him/her enough breast milk and energy to stay active. (this is not necessarily true for small babies under 3 months.)
  • Notice your baby’s swallowing habit. If you hear a swallowing noise coming from your baby’s mouth, then it means that your breasts are producing enough breast milk (usually described as a “keh keh keh” sound). Another sign if your baby changes his drinking rhythm when your milk letdown occurs.  
  • Your baby will be satisfied and content after drinking breast milk. Your baby’s mouth will look wet or moist.
  • Another way to check if your baby is getting enough milk is by keeping track of the overall number of times he/she drinks milk during 24 hours. If your baby nurses 8 to 12 times a day, it means your breasts are providing enough milk for his/her growth.

If you’re unsure if you’re producing enough milk for your baby, I encourage you to enroll in my Breastfeeding with Confidence course where you’ll learn all the signs of a healthy milk production and so much more. 

Breastfeeding can be tiring for new mommies. You worry more about your baby’s health than your health.

Make sure that while trying to give plenty of milk to your little one, you find time to prioritize your health so you can be the best mother for your baby and family. 

Breastfeeding Resources

If you are experiencing low milk supply and would like to learn more about what to eat while breastfeeding, check out our best resources below.

About the Author

Jada is a Certified Health Coach and Certified Lactation Counselor who writes at lactationmamas.com. She helps mothers prioritize their health so they can have more energy and confidence and meet the demands of being a new mother. She also provides breastfeeding support for mothers. She is a wife and mother and enjoys traveling to new places with her family.

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