Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

When should one seek medical care for problems with breastfeeding?

It is important to call your health-care provider if the above techniques do not alleviate the problem or if you develop serious symptoms such as fever or signs of mastitis (a breast inflammation that may be caused by an infection). Symptoms of mastitis include increasing pain in the breast, fever, chills, sweats, breast swelling and/or hardness, and redness of the skin over the affected area. A delay in treating mastitis could lead to a more severe infection and possible breast abscess.

Can supplements or medications increase a low milk supply?

Most experts agree that increasing the number of feedings and receiving coaching and assistance on proper breastfeeding technique can help increase what is perceived to be a low milk supply. Some women find that using breast pumps after each feeding stimulates milk production because of the increased degrees of emptying of the breast.

Medications that are reported to increase milk production are known as galactogogues. The most common examples are dopamine receptor antagonists (such as metoclopramide [Reglan, Reglan ODT, Metozol ODT, Octamide] and domperidone). However, there have been no data to demonstrate that these drugs are more effective than interventions that focus on improving breastfeeding technique and increasing breastfeeding frequency. Most doctors do not support the use of these medications to augment milk supply.

Although a number of dietary supplements and/or herbal preparations have been claimed to stimulate milk production, including alfalfa, fenugreek, or blessed thistle, there is no scientific data to support the claims that any herbal or dietary supplement can increase milk production.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/26/2016

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