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Maternal experiences with and sources of information on galactagogues to support lactation: a cross-sectional study

Authors Bazzano AN, Cenac L, Brandt AJ, Barnett J, Thibeau S, Theall KP

Received 23 November 2016

Accepted for publication 18 January 2017

Published 27 February 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 105—113


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Elie Al-Chaer

Alessandra N Bazzano,1 Lauren Cenac,1 Amelia J Brandt,1 Josephine Barnett,2 Shelley Thibeau,3 Katherine P Theall1

1Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA, 2City University of New York, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY, 3Ochsner Clinic Foundation, New Orleans, LA, USA

An increase in the marketing and use of herbal galactagogues among breastfeeding mothers in the US has raised the issue of how best to provide support and information on the use of these products, particularly in light of limited availability of certified lactation counselors and continued suboptimal rates of breastfeeding globally. Currently, no cross-sectional data are available on the experiences and attitudes of mothers regarding the use of herbal and pharmaceutical galactagogues for lactation in the US. The findings of an online survey of 188 breastfeeding mothers on experiences with and sources of information on galactagogues are presented. Most mothers (76%) reported that while breastfeeding, they felt as though they were not making enough milk to meet the needs of their child, and yet 54% also indicated that they had not supplemented with formula. A large proportion of respondents reported utilizing galactagogues to increase lactation and finding them useful. The results indicated that most women learned about galactagogues from the Internet or by word of mouth through friends. Lactation consultants were the third-most reported sources of information on these products. While many respondents reported perceiving galactagogues as innocuous, more evidence on safety and efficacy is needed to support women properly who seek out and use them. Large-scale studies of the prevalence of galactagogue use in the US and rigorous evaluation of use globally are needed to ensure that mothers who choose to breastfeed may safely avail themselves of all options when counseling support is insufficient.

Keywords: galactagogue, breastfeeding, lactation, lactation support

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