The article has been reviewed by medical expert Margaret Dogwood, BSN, RN
Does sunflower Lecithin increase milk supply? This is an essential question for breastfeeding mothers, as maintaining an adequate milk supply is crucial for your infant’s health and well-being.
Sunflower lecithin is a natural emulsifier that helps improve milk flow by preventing clogged milk ducts by reducing milk viscosity. This guide will help you understand why milk supply is essential, how sunflower lecithin benefits mothers struggling with milk supply and how you should take it.
Understanding Breast Milk Supply
It may seem obvious that mothers will have a breast milk supply to nourish their babies. But having breast milk supply is an intricate process that involves hormones, breast emptying and milk removal.
It all starts with the prolactin hormone stimulating breast milk production in the breasts. So, how does this happen?
When a baby suckles or you pump, this stimulates nerves in the nipples, sending signals to the brain to release more prolactin. Then, muscles surrounding the nipple contract, pushing milk to the nipple, thanks to the oxytocin hormone.
To maintain the milk supply, you have to empty the breast constantly. Incomplete emptying and ineffective milk removal can lead to a decrease in milk production.
Factors That Affect Breast Milk Supply?
Every lactating mother dreams that they can maintain a milk supply for their infant. However, many mothers have milk supply issues. Every mother needs to know the factors that affect breast milk supply.
- Frequency and Duration of Breastfeeding
The breast makes milk continuously, but it depends on how empty they are. It means you will make more milk if they are empty or close to empty than when they are full. Frequent and effective milk removal or breastfeeding stimulates breast milk production.
So, if you love giving your baby a pacifier as a way to stretch feeding time, you need to pump to maintain the milk supply.
- Baby’s Age
As babies grow or experience growth spurts, there is increased feeding demand. This signals your body to produce more breast milk. At the same time, when you introduce your baby to solid foods, they nurse less frequently.
Therefore you must keep up to ensure that the baby still gets breast milk often so that you continue to have a milk supply.
- Mother’s Health and Nutrition
Many mothers joke about feeding for two after childbirth. But what is it that they consume? Is it healthy foods or caving to cravings for junk foods? It’s more likely that a healthy mother will produce more milk.
Good health is a combination of habits such as eating a balanced diet, exercising, enough hydration and getting enough sleep. This helps maintain the milk supply for a lactating mother.
- Not Feeding at Night
There are numerous books on how to offer sleep training to your babies. Many parents jump on this bandwagon; I mean, who doesn’t want to enjoy a whole night’s sleep, considering how exhausting it can be with a young one in tow?
Prolactin, the hormone that signals breast milk production, is higher when you sleep. While this technique is fabulous, it means that you will have low prolactin, the hormone that signals breasts to make milk. If you are constantly worried about your milk supply decreasing, consider re-introducing feeding at night or, better yet, pumping.
- Medication or Health Condition
There are certain medications or health conditions that can affect the milk supply. Before taking medicines while lactating, please consult a health provider to ensure it doesn’t affect your milk supply.
Many women on birth control pills while breastfeeding find that their milk supply doesn’t change. However, some mothers experience a reduced milk supply if the pills are hormonal. So, it’s best to consult your health provider about your concerns for the best advice.
What is Sunflower Lecithin?
It is a natural supplement derived from sunflower seeds. The process involves dehydrating the sunflower and separating it into oil, gum and solids. The lecithin comes from the gum. The cold press system helps process the gum, such as the one used to make olive oil. Sunflower lecithin contains phospholipids, which are crucial components in human cell membranes.
Why are phospholipids essential? They break down into choline, fatty acids and inositol, which has multiple health benefits. This includes promoting liver function and brain health and also helping to support the milk supply.
Many people question the mechanism of how sunflower lecithin affects the milk supply. From the many research studies found, it’s still not so clear. Therefore, there needs to be further research conducted to understand its effects fully.
However, many breastfeeding mothers report that the supplement helps relieve and prevent clogged milk ducts. Not only are the clogged ducts painful, but they also lead to a decrease in milk supply.
The Science Behind Sunflower Lecithin and Increased Milk Supply
It’s an interesting process on how science impacts milk supply. However, please note that sunflower lecithin doesn’t directly increase milk production. But it helps support the milk supply by easing clogged milk ducts.
Many women experience clogged ducts, which are painful and make the breast seem engorged. It happens when there is no effective breast milk removal from the breast. Sunflower lecithin, a natural emulsifier, helps improve milk flow and reduce the risk of further blockages.
Efficacy of Sunflower Lecithin in Breastfeeding Milk Supply
Through science, we’ve seen that sunflower lecithin doesn’t directly affect milk supply in women. It helps reduce inflammation in the milk duct by emulsifying or reducing milk stickiness, which helps increase milk supply.
Clogged milk ducts continue to occur in breastfeeding women each day. If left unresolved, it will lead to mastitis, an infection caused by bacteria entering the milk ducts through a nipple crack. So, when women take in the supplement, it helps avert and prevent future clogged ducts and mastitis while helping increase in milk supply.
There is limited accessible research on the efficacy of sunflower on how sunflower lecithin helps improve breastmilk supply. This allows researchers to publish new information as it will guide most women further in increasing their milk supply.
The bottom line is that every breastfeeding mother who encounters issues with milk supply must engage their doctor. They will undergo a proper diagnosis of their problem and get guidance on the best cause of action.
Benefits of Sunflower Lecithin
Breastfeeding mothers can benefit from the supplement in different ways. These include:
- Increased Breast Milk Supply- If you are worried about your milk supply, many women positively attest to the supplement. It helps reduce the viscosity of breast milk in the milk ducts, making it easy for milk to flow to the nipples.
- Preventing Clogged Milk Ducts- Lactating mothers dread the pain, swelling and inflammation caused by clogged milk ducts, not to mention a decrease in milk supply. Sunflower lecithin reduces the stickiness and prevents milk from being trapped in the milk ducts.
- Support Baby’s Digestive Health- The supplement is a source of phospholipids that help develop and function cell membranes. Thus, they support a baby’s digestive health and absorption of nutrients.
- Support Brain and Nervous System Development-Choline is a crucial component in brain and nervous system development. Breast milk is a natural source of choline; thus, taking sunflower lecithin increases the choline in breast milk.
- Easy to Digest- One thing lactating mothers seek is that any supplement they take should not cause any harm to their infant. Sunflower lecithin is less likely to cause digestive discomfort in a baby.
Precautions and Side Effects
Any lactating mother is cautious when taking any supplements that are said to help increase her milk supply. These are some of the safety concerns related to sunflower lecithin use during breastfeeding:
You are less likely to experience allergic reactions when taking sunflower lecithin than soy lecithin. However, if you are allergic to sunflower seeds, you should take precautions and visit your doctor.
- Digestive Issues
Stomach upset, such as diarrhea, may arise from the supplement intake, although in sporadic cases. You should stop taking the supplement in such an event and consult your health practitioner immediately.
Some mothers need to be on medication, even as they breastfeed. It’s best to ensure that they go well with your medication before taking in the supplement. This is only possible if you engage with your doctor.
- Quality Control
Health boards always advocate for the safety of people when it comes to supplements. That’s why they have to go through an intricate process during manufacturing.so only choose to buy sunflower lecithin from reputable manufacturers, as it ensures its high quality.
Potential Side Effects of Sunflower Lecithin
Are there any sunflower lecithin breastfeeding side effects? How can I avoid them? It’s quite devastating for a breastfeeding mother to have a low milk supply. So, when they hear sunflower lecithin offers them a great solution, they will want to buy it.
However, the main concern is if the supplement has side effects and how to avoid them. The FDA endorsed sunflower lecithin as safe, with no known contraindication while breastfeeding. However, breastfeeding mothers may experience certain side effects, such as:
- Stomach Upset such as diarrhea, or stomach cramps
These are mild side effects, but they can cause discomfort. Hence it’s crucial only to follow dosage instructions. Stop taking the supplement immediately when you have a headache or stomach upset, and visit your doctor immediately for further consultation.
Dosage and Usage of Sunflower Lecithin
Most lactating mothers ask about the sunflower lecithin breastfeeding dose. The dosage depends on factors such as breast milk supply and body weight.
The capsules come in 1200 milligrams; you should take about 3 to 4 daily. The maximum dosage you should take per day should be 4800 milligrams. Please note that you should always engage your health practitioner before taking any supplements.
Methods for taking Sunflower Lecithin
The supplement comes in different forms, including:
- Capsules- You can take the pills with water or juice as per the prescription
- Powder- Add the powder to foods and drinks such as soup or smoothies
- Liquid- Take it orally or add it to your favorite drink
Some people may prefer to chew on the sunflower seeds. However, note that consuming enough of the supplement through foods is difficult.
After How Long Should I Expect an Increase in Milk Supply?
When you struggle with milk supply, you only want an instant solution. However, the supplement taking effect varies from one person to another. Some lactating mothers experience an increase in milk supply within a few days of using the supplement.
Others take much longer before noting a difference. The critical thing to ensure its effectiveness is to be patient but consistent with your dosage.
The science behind sunflower lecithin is intriguing, as the supplement prevents clogged milk ducts, thus increasing milk supply. That’s why the supplement is now so much buzz amongst breastfeeding mothers. It offers a fantastic solution to those struggling with milk supply.
Some mothers may experience stomach upset or headaches, which they should alert their doctors immediately. Existing evidence on how the supplement helps increase milk supply is encouraging. So, if you need to improve your milk supply, consult your doctor and discuss sunflower lecithin to see if it’s right for you.