The use, perceived effectiveness and safety of herbal galactagogues during breastfeeding: A qualitative study
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The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding as the normal infant feeding method and that infants being breastfed should be regarded as the control group or norm reference in all instances. There are many factors which could contribute to a new mother ceasing breastfeeding early, with the most commonly reported reason being perceived insufficient breast milk supply. The use of herbal galactagogues is increasingly common worldwide. Literature review identified a need for more research in the area of herbal galactagogue use during breastfeeding. Twenty in-depth semi-structured interviews were undertaken with breastfeeding women who used herbal galactagogues, to document use and explore their perceived effectiveness and safety of herbal galactagogues. Several indicators of breastfeeding adequacy were mentioned as participants described their experiences with the use of herbal galactagogues. Confidence and self-empowerment emerged as an over-arching theme linked to positive experiences with the use of herbal galactagogues. Despite the lack of clinical trial data on the actual increase in measured volume of breast milk production, indicators of breastfeeding adequacy boosted participants’ confidence levels and resulted in psychological benefits. This study highlighted the importance of considering the potential psychological benefits of using herbal galactagogues, and how this translates into breastfeeding adequacy.
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