10 Herbs to Increase Breast Milk Supply

10 Herbs to Increase Breast Milk Supply

By: Sabrina Granniss, IBCLC


8 min

Herbs have been used for centuries as food and medicine during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. Each herb works uniquely in the body. Many herbs boost your overall nutritional profile as well as support breast health. Some herbs ease digestion and improve gut health, directly impacting mood and milk supply. Understanding an herb's impact on the body can help you find the best fit for you based on your unique body, health history, and desired outcome. 


During pregnancy, your breasts get ready to make milk for your baby. Your breasts start to increase in size as your breast’s ductal system rapidly grows and multiples. Alfalfa is a phytoestrogen that can help signal the pituitary gland to release prolactin. Prolactin is the hormone that tells the breast to make more milk by collecting nutrients from the bloodstream, causing milk to be stored for the next time your baby feeds. 

Alfalfa is very nutritious and high in minerals, fiber, and protein. It boosts the quality of your milk and can increase its fat content. (1) Alfalfa is in Legendairy Milk’s Cash Cow, a blend that can be taken in the last weeks of pregnancy. It can help get milk production off to a good start if you previously experienced a low milk supply.

Found in these lactation supplements: Liquid Gold and Cash Cow


Digestive herbs, like Anise, have long been used to encourage an abundant milk supply for new mothers. Traditional seed cakes made with Anise are popular in some cultures, while in others, Anise is added to soups and stews prepared for new mothers.

Anise is high in iron, aiding in recovery from birth and reducing symptoms of fatigue and weakness. It helps the mother feel a little more energy, which is needed since feeding the new baby is an around-the-clock job. It can help reduce the incidence of baby blues and postpartum depression. (2)

Taking Anise during breastfeeding can help reduce colic symptoms in your baby as it calms their digestion as well as yours. It boosts milk supply and has been shown to help babies have better weight gain. (3)

Found in these lactation supplements: Liquid Gold and Lechita

Black Cumin Seed

Insulin plays a role in milk production. Although the glands that make milk in the breast become insulin sensitive during breastfeeding, people with thyroid imbalances and insulin resistance experience higher rates of low milk supply. These conditions can cause a delay in milk coming in. Black seed can help folks with PCOS, hypothyroidism, and high blood sugar. It helps balance hormones and can reduce blood sugar levels. (4) 

Black seed increases prolactin levels, which supports lactation and can help increase milk production. Removing milk when prolactin levels are higher can help make more milk, boost supply, and help your baby gain better weight. (5)

Found in these lactation supplements: Pump Princess


Fennel is a digestive herb with many benefits for breastfeeding parents and babies. Fennel is a dopamine receptor antagonist. Dopamine is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus that regulates the production of prolactin in the pituitary gland. The more dopamine there is the less prolactin that is produced and released. (6) Fennel reduces dopamine and increases prolactin levels, aiding in increased milk production.

Fennel is shown to help with milk letdown. It has an oxytocic effect that stimulates the constriction of alveoli in the mammary glands, which squeezes milk from the cells into the ducts when your baby nurses or during pumping. (7) More letdowns equal more milk removed, signaling more milk to be made for your baby. 

Because fennel is a digestive herb, it can help improve a mom’s and baby’s gut health; babies whose mother takes fennel experience less colic and crying. Better gut health supports breast health, milk supply, and overall health.

Found in these lactation supplements: Lechita, Liquid Gold, Milkapalooza, and Pump Princess

Goat’s Rue

The name Goat’s rue means “to bring milk”. It is a top pick for people with a history of low supply and to re-establish a milk supply. It contains a compound called genistein, which has been shown to increase breast tissue and milk storage capacity. For those who may not have experienced breast growth during pregnancy or have Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT), increasing milk storage helps increase overall supply as the baby nurses and milk can refill. 

PCOS and insulin resistance often go hand in hand. Milk-making glands are very sensitive to insulin. Insulin resistance can delay the onset of milk production. Goat’s rue can increase insulin sensitivity, help lower blood sugar, and increase milk supply. Goat’s rue can help nursing moms and their babies continue their breastfeeding journey for a more extended period of time. (8)

Families who choose to lactate for their adopted baby, re-lactate after stopping breastfeeding or have a baby born prematurely will find Goat’s rue a beneficial herb as part of their protocol for making milk and increasing milk supply and storage capacity. (9) It can take 2-3 weeks to notice the benefits of Goat’s rue. If you previously had a low milk supply, Goat’s rue should be considered and taken in the last weeks of pregnancy.

Found in these lactation supplements: Liquid Gold, Cash Cow, and Lechita


Have you heard of this herb? It may not be as recognizable as some other galactagogues, but it is highly beneficial and has been passed from generation to generation in Guatemala. New mothers are given tea made with Ixbut, pronounced “ish-boot”, to increase their milk flow and production.

Ixbut tea acts quickly, and an increase in milk can be noticed in as little as 48 hours of drinking it. Some people see they begin to leak milk as their supply increases from drinking Ixbut tea. Birth interventions can delay or stunt milk production. Studies show Ixbut tea after having a cesarean birth can help encourage milk production. (12)

Ixbut is enjoyable to drink. It has a soft, light, nutty flavor.

Found in this lactation supplement: Tea-Tas

Milk Thistle

Your liver’s best friend, this herb helps cleanse, detox, and balance hormones. Your liver is like a filter that removes toxins from everything your body is exposed to, from foods you eat to environmental toxins, including toxins in products you use in your home and on your body. Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs what we come into contact with in our environment. 

Our liver produces some hormones and regulates others, including keeping estrogen in check for a healthy supply and encouraging prolactin synthesis. When there is too much estrogen, it can cause a thyroid imbalance and lower milk supply. Thyroid hormones play a role in mammary development and milk production. Prolactin signals milk to be made by signaling nutrients to be pulled from the bloodstream into the cells that make and store milk until your baby nurses.

A randomized controlled trial of 50 lactating women found that they produced 85% more milk while taking silymarin (milk thistle) than another group taking a placebo after 63 days. (13)

Found in this lactation supplement: Liquid Gold


Moringa is known as the “miracle tree” and grows easily and quickly. It is one of the most nutrient-dense herbs, high in vitamins, iron, and potassium. It is an excellent herb for recovery after giving birth and supports milk supply and milk quality. 

Moringa is high in protein, iron, and B vitamins, which will support your energy and help you feel less exhausted.  Its high vitamin C content aids the body's iron absorption, which is essential for blood loss after birth. (10)

Moringa can help improve thyroid hormone balance and regulate blood pressure. It works quickly, boosting prolactin levels within days of taking it and increasing milk production. 

In one study, moringa helped increase milk supply by 152%-176%. (11)

Found in these lactation supplements: Milkapalooza and Cash Cow


The queen of herbs, known for its benefits for the female reproductive system, the name Shatavari means “she who has a hundred husbands”. It is an herb used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine that focuses on balancing the body, mind, and spirit.

Shatavari is adaptogenic. It can help balance hormones by increasing or decreasing their levels based on the body's needs. It increases prolactin and corticoid levels, helping to boost milk supply and mammary gland growth. 

In studies, Shatavari has been shown to increase prolactin levels by 33% and better weight gain in babies whose mothers were taking Shatavari. (14)

It can support women who have a lot of fluids during their birth. It has natural diuretic effects and can reduce the retention of fluids, which contributes to engorgement and difficulty with feeding after birth. Engorgement makes it hard for milk to pass through the milk ducts. Shatavari can help alleviate postpartum edema.

Found in these lactation supplements: Liquid Gold and Milkapalooza


Soup and stew with Torbangun leaves are traditional foods prepared for new mothers after they have given birth to help support recovery and promote lactation. Torbangun means to “wake up”. 

It can help reduce postpartum fatigue and nurture the establishment of a milk supply. In Bataknese culture, consuming torbangun after delivery of the baby is thought to help with postpartum bleeding, acts as a uterine cleansing agent, and is warming to the body. (15)

Establishing a milk supply early on can have an impact on longer breastfeeding duration. In one study, mothers taking Torbangun had a 65% increase in milk supply after 2 weeks and were more able to maintain an adequate supply. (16)

Found in this lactation supplements: Lactavist

What is best for me?

The ten herbs highlighted above each have different benefits and properties. Because we each have our own unique body chemistry, we can more accurately choose herbs to match our needs when supporting our postpartum experience and lactation journey. Sometimes, taking more than one herb has the most benefits. While some of Legendairy Milk’s lactation supplements contain similar ingredients, they each have a different main ingredient. Taking herbs for 7-10 days is appropriate for discovering which one or which blend is the right fit and gives you the best results. 


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