After doing more research on essential oil safety, especially of these two oils, I no longer recommend using them to increase breast milk production. Neither are listed as safe to use for breastfeeding in Robert Tisserland’s book Essential Oils Safety. Fennel is potentially carcinogenic (based on estragol content) and should not be used if pregnant, breastfeeding, and for children under 5. There are many changes you can make before taking the drastic step of using EO’s for breastfeeding including making sure you are drinking enough water, eating enough calories (You need an extra 300-500 calories a DAY while breastfeeding), galactogogue herbs and more.
This is my mamma’s milk tea recipe. Here are my nutritional recommendations for breastfeeding moms.
There are a few studies going around the doTERRA forums discussing how essential oils can aide in increasing breast milk production. I am honestly amazed every time I work with essential oils. Really I am a sceptic at heart and rely heavily on experimentation and experience to form my opinions. Essential oils helping with gout pain? Yup that worked. Essential oils helping with unbearable hip and back pain during pregnancy? Yes please. Essential oils helping treat ear infections, UTI’s, slow bleeding after pregnancy? Yes I have done all that as well. So, since I am breast feeding, and my milk production has been lower than normal due to my diet (which is fine because I overproduce in a big way) I figured I would test out this essential oil increasing breast milk theory.
Studies are currently being done to see how basil and fennel essential oils will affect breast milk production in a hospital setting with lactation consultants.
What did I do?
I applied three drops of basil essential oil diluted in 1 tsp carrier oil onto my right breast and fennel similarly diluted onto my left after completely nursing and pumping my self dry on each side. As I said earlier my production has been just enough to feed my little guy. I have stopped over producing, probably because of my quick weight loss and restrictive GAPS diet.
My right breast with the basil started feeling full within about 30 minutes. I had no tingling or other sensation. N nursed just fine on that side and seemed happier than normal nurse from of that breast at night. He usually has issues with that side being flatter at night, it must be harder to nurse off of when deflated.
My left breast felt warm and tingly verging on uncomfortable. I could almost feel the milk ducts filling and there was almost a burning sensation. I have used fennel oil for my stomach and not had this issue. You can definitely FEEL the fennel working to increase milk production. I applied it again a few days later, just 1 drop,with 1 tsp carrier oil (coconut oil) and I could feel warmth and production, but not burning or pain so definitely use the fennel with a carrier oil. The fennel boosted milk production as well, there was not as much volume but when I pumped both sides and refrigerated the milk, the fennel side had MORE fat content than the basil side! I have read before that fennel can increase the amount of fatty milk you are producing, but I was surprised to see the difference between the two sides. I am wondering if it is because he had nursed off of that side last so there was less fore milk? It is a possibility.
Both fennel and basil are known stimulate the appetite encouraging your little one to eat more which is great for fussy eaters. Fennel also calms the stomach and aides in digestion, so for babies with gas or digestive issues, the smell coming from your breast might ease some pains they were having while eating.
Suggested method of application:
Add 1-2 drops of basil, fennel, or both oils to 1tbsp carrier oil (I suggest coconut oil) Rub oil into both breasts once a day as needed. I found my supply maintained very well after just two applications. Discontinue use of fennel after 10 days and use basil exclusively for 7 days until you can resume fennel use.
Why do these oils help increase milk production?
Both fennel and basil have estrogen like properties that increase the production of breast milk. * Edited: Both fennel and basil contain progesterone like properties which help balance hormones.
There is a lot of bad information going around the internet about not using basil in concentrated forms while breast feeding. I have consulted five different books, all mention not using basil during pregnancy, but every book says that basil is used to promote lactation and none warn of its use while breastfeeding. I think the confusion stems from Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) which is different from sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) in the way it interacts with the body. Holy basil is a wonderful mood enhancer and has many great properties, but it is also known to decrease breast milk production and cause miscarriage in medicinal doses.
Basil: Avoid during pregnancy. Not for use by people with epilepsy. It may irritate sensitive skin. Use diluted.
Fennel: Repeated use can possibly result in contact sensitization. use with caution if susceptible to epilepsy. Use with caution during pregnancy. It is suggested that you use fennel for 10 days and then take 5 days off. Fennel is a diuretic, so it is good to give your body a rest every once in a while.
Applying essential oils directly to the breast, even at a 1% dilution as recommended, will put the EO directly into your breast milk. Use caution and watch your child for any reactions.
I get my essential oils here.
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