Breastfeeding is one of the toughest yet most rewarding jobs a mother can do, and for most moms, it’s definitely not a smooth journey. One of the most helpful natural remedies for increasing breast milk naturally is essential oils. The top 3 essential oils known to boost milk supply are:
1. Fennel Essential Oil
Scientific Name: Foeniculum vulgare
Fennel essential oil (where to get it) is extracted through steam distillation of the aromatic seeds of the fennel plant. Fennel taken in the form of herbal tea has been subjected to study and research where it was found to increase the volume and fat content of breast milk when used as part of treatment.
This forms a basis for the proposition that fennel essential oil has milk increasing properties. Fennel is also used in many cultures to make infusions to relieve colic in infants.
Warning: Do not use fennel essential oil for more than 10 days in a row.
2. Basil Essential Oil
Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum
After fennel, basil essential oil (where to get it) is the next popular essential oil that is purported to increase milk supply. Basil essential oil, like fennel oil, help balance hormones thanks to their progesterone- like properties.
The warning for fennel oil concerning not applying for more than 10 days in a row does not apply to basil essential oil.
3. Lavender Essential Oil
Scientific Name: Lavendula officianalis
Lavender essential oil (where to get it) is a staple in aromatherapy and offers helpful support during pregnancy and breastfeeding. New mothers, especially first time mothers, feel overwhelmed and face a lot of stress, tension and anxiety, all of which are factors that can greatly diminish breast milk supply. Using lavender oil can help calm the mind and body and help you relax. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory oil that can help get rid of swelling, muscle cramp and pain during and after pregnancy.
How to Apply the Essential Oils to Increase Milk Supply
Some suggest ingesting essential oils in order to boost milk supply but I recommend that you avoid oral consumption of essential oils. Topical application and diffusion work wonders by themselves. Here are some ways to apply these essential oils:
1. Applying Essential Oils on to the Breast
Dilute 1 drop of basil essential oil in 1 teaspoon of fractionated coconut oil and mix thoroughly together. Now apply this diluted basil oil on the sides of both your breasts, gently massaging it in, twice a day. Do not apply on the nipples, applying on the sides is enough to boost milk supply.
2. Applying Essential Oils on Pulse Points
The ankles are the pulse points corresponding to the female organs, including the breasts. Dilute fennel essential oil as directed above and apply all over the ankles, twice a day.
Another great pulse point that essential oils can be applied are the outside of both ears. Gently massage the outside of the ears with diluted lavender to help manage pregnancy and postpartum stress and other emotions in order to reduce stress, anxiety, frustration etc, which will help you calm down and relax and help increase your milk supply.
3. Diffusing Essential Oils
Diffusing 2 – 4 drops of quality essential oils in the room where you hang out most, or right before sleep, is a powerful way to boost milk supply, as well. Do not diffuse too many drops for too many hours. One hour of diffusion per day is enough to receive the benefits of the oils. 2 drops of lavender + 2 drops of geranium oil is a great blend for boosting milk supply, balancing the hormones and calming nervous tension. Ensure to buy a high quality non-plastic diffuser.
Other Useful Essential Oils in Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is not an easy job, there are a lot of ups and downs on the way. From painful engorgement to oversupply and from cracked nipples to full-blown mastitis, essential oils can play a huge role in making this wonderful nurturing part of your life all the more enjoyable and more manageable. Here are some essential oils that can support you throughout your breastfeeding:
→ Clary Sage Essential Oil (where to get it) – Said to be a milk booster, clary sage can be used along with fennel, basil and lavender oils to encourage milk supply.
→ Geranium Essential Oil (where to get it) – Got dry and cracked nipples? Rub in a drop of geranium oil diluted in 1 teaspoon of coconut oil onto your nipples after every feeding. Ensure to wipe off before each feeding.
→ Melaleuca Essential Oil (where to get it) – More than 80% of moms in the United States suffer from mastitis, an infection of the milk ducts in, usually, one breast. Those who have suffered from mastitis previously tend to have recurrent infections.
Melaleuca essential oil, also known as tea tree oil, is a great antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic and antiseptic properties that can help fight and kill the harmful bacteria that cause mastitis. Dilute 1 drop of tea tree/melaleuca and apply on the mastitis-affected breast, especially on the swollen/reddened area of infection. Be careful with this one as ingestion is contraindicated by the FDA so make sure you wipe off thoroughly before feeding as you do not want your baby to touch the oil with their hands and later put their hands into their mouths.
→ Peppermint Essential Oil (where to get it) – While many women suffer from lack of milk supply, a few actually struggle with OVER production of breast milk, which can be inconvenient, uncomfortable and increase the chances of painful clogged ducts. While breast milk donation is a great idea, it may not be an easily available option so natural remedies such as peppermint oil can be used to decrease milk supply. Peppermint can be ingested by diluting 1 drop peppermint oil in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, provided you have consulted with your licensed aromatherapist and your oil is 100% pure, labelled safe for ingestion.
Other Non Essential Oil Remedies to Boost Milk Supply
» Good ol’ galactagogues – Since time immemorial, certain foods have been known to increase food supplies and have been consumed by lactacting mothers with great success. Incorporate these time-tested foods into your life to bolster your supplies: Oatmeal, raisins, garlic, brewer’s yeast, barley and raw nuts.
» Co-sleeping – I swear by co-sleeping, and I’ve done it since my little one was born. I believe this is one of the main reasons I’ve been able to maintain my milk supplies. While my co-sleeping friends saw a drop in their milk supplies within the 4th – 6th month of breastfeeding, my supplies were steady, and at worst, I only had to deal with over-production of milk. Co-sleeping helps you to attend to your baby as soon as they cry, and helps your baby to have on-demand feeding, which help your body to keep producing adequate levels of milk.
» Exercise – We’re not talking about overexerting yourself here. Heavy exercises may actually have a toll on your milk supply, but moderate exercise such as 5 minutes of cardio 3 times a week, and going for long walks can all help improve your well-being, encourage lymphatic drainage, and help maintain healthy milk supply.
- Never ingest essential oils, unless under the care and supervision of your certified aromatherapist or doctor.
- Take care to thoroughly wipe off essential oils from the breast before breastfeeding to avoid your baby from accidentally ingesting some of it.
- Always give preference to the non-essential remedies to boost breast milk supply over the usage of essential oil during delicate times like pregnancy and lactation.
- Do not use more than 1% dilution in the hopes that more essential oil will give faster results. This is not the case. More than 1% dilution will directly enter your breast milk and affect your infant. Be very careful and monitor your baby to catch any negative reactions in good time.
- Always use organic and 100% pure essential oils.