Oral Presentation Joint Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of NZ and the Nutrition Society of Australia

How healthcare professionals and breastfeeding women in New Zealand use food and herbal galactogogues: a pilot study (316)

Lili Jia 1 , Janet Weber 1 , Louise Brough 1
  1. Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Background: Perceived inadequate milk production is a main cause of early cessation of breastfeeding. Many herbs and foods (galactogogues) are used worldwide to enhance breast milk production based on anecdotal evidence around efficacy and safety. There is no scientific literature about the use of galactogogues in New Zealand (NZ).

Objectives: To describe both healthcare professionals’ and breastfeeding women’s attitude to and experiences with galactogogues in NZ.

Methods: Healthcare professionals (n=8) involved in postnatal care and breastfeeding women (n=7) who had previous concerns with milk supply participated in a tailored semi-structured interview. Content analysis was adapted for coding and analysing transcripts.

Results: Foods used as galactagogues included oats, dairy products, and increasing protein and “healthy fat” and supplementing vitamins were reported. A range of herbs were used, with fenugreek most commonly mentioned. Women with long-term problems usually were prescribed domperidone, a pharmaceutical galactogogue. Healthcare professionals generally tried to eliminate perceived problems and apply breastfeeding techniques including frequent feeding, breast compression and expressing after feeding before introducing galactogogues. Women sourced information from other breastfeeding women or the Internet, and sometimes tried galactogogues before contacting professionals for help.  Most respondents raised concerns about safety, although some considered ‘natural’ safer whereas others were more confident about pharmaceutical galactogogues.

Conclusions: Galactogogues are being used in NZ, even though there is limited scientific evidence of safety or efficacy. More research is required to gain a fuller understanding of the use of galatogogues in NZ.

Funding source(s): N/A