Herbs To Avoid While Breastfeeding

Herbs To Avoid While Breastfeeding

Giving birth is a peak experience in a woman’s life.  It is simultaneously one of the most difficult, yet rewarding things a woman can do in her lifetime. In the initial postpartum phases that follow, it’s extremely important that your baby is properly nourished with mother’s milk. While there are a wide variety of all-natural herbal supplements that provide many health benefits (especially when compared to prescription medication), it’s vital to remember that certain herbs are not safe for you or your newborn at this time, and some herbs decrease breast milk production.  Either way, they should be avoided while you are breastfeeding.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these herbs and give general recommendations about how to ensure the herbs you use are safe and beneficial.

Herbs That May Decrease Milk Supply

Some herbs and natural remedies should be avoided while nursing because they are medically recognized as containing anti-lactogens, that is, compounds that decrease a mother’s supply of milk. The amount of these herbs normally used in cooking are unlikely to be of much concern. It’s mostly the larger amounts that might be used therapeutically, which could pose a problem. 

Some of these herbs are actually used by nursing mothers to treat oversupply, or when they are weaning, so it’s wise to avoid them before this stage. Herbs well known to contribute to a decrease in milk production are:  

  • Black walnut
  • Sage
  • Oregano 
  • Parsley 
  • Thyme 
  • Yarrow 
  • Sorrel 
  • Periwinkle  
  • Chickweed 
  • Spearmint 
  • Peppermint

If you find your supply dropped after ingesting one of these herbs, don’t worry too much.  As soon as you stop taking the herb your supply should bounce right back up. The reduction in the milk supply is temporary.  Remember, breast milk supply is always changing and adapting based on your diet, hydration, hormones, skin to skin contact, and stimulation.  If you feel like you need to increase your milk supply we have lots of herbal teas and supplements that work great. 

what herbs to avoid when breastfeeding

Herbs Hazardous to Mom and Baby’s Overall Health

While some herbs are considered anti-lactogenic, others can be potentially dangerous for the mom and baby, since much of what the mother consumes passes through the breastmilk and is ingested by the baby. Here is a list of herbs that should be avoided while breastfeeding. As always discuss your herbal supplements with your care provider before taking them.

  • Rhubarb 
  • Ginseng 
  • Kava 
  • Dong Quai 
  • Buckthorn 
  • Basil Oil 
  • Aloe 
  • Black Cohosh 
  • Licorice Root 
  • Mate 
  • Wintergreen 
  • Wormwood 
  • Bearberry 
  • Alder Buckthorn 
  • Prickly Ash 
  • Bladderwrack 

Good Alternatives

Knowing which herbs are safe to take and which ones to avoid during the first postpartum years is essential. Here is a shortlist of my favorite postpartum and breastfeeding friendly herbs that not only support a healthy milk supply, but they support a healthy immune system, mood, stress relief, support anxiety, reduce depression and improve overall well being.

  • Chamomile

  • Echinacea

  • Fenugreek

  • Fennel

  • Elderberry

  • Nettle

  • Red Raspberry Leaf

  • St. John’s Wort

  • Motherwort

  • Cramp Bark

  • Lavender 

  • Rose Hips

  • Oregon Grape Root

Let Birth Song Botanicals Help While You’re Breastfeeding

Wondering about which herbs are safe for breastfeeding moms? We here at Birth Song Botanicals care about you, your family, and your health. Try our herbal teas, baths, and supplements to feel better safely and naturally. Nurture yourself while nurturing your child. Give us a call at 479-283-7308.


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