World Health Organization recommended exclusive breastfeeding as an economic and valuable method for protecting an infant’s health during life. It provides unique biologic and emotional effects for both mother and infant (1, 2). Exclusive breastfeeding means that infant is fed only with breast milk without any other liquids or solid food and this definition does not include vitamins, minerals and medicines (1).
Malnutrition in the first year of life is the reason of two-third of deaths in fewer than five years old children in the world. Exclusive breastfeeding in first six months of life and continuing with complimentary nourishment decrease malnutrition and as a result decreases mortality of fewer than five years old children (3, 4). Breastfeeding immediately after birth empowers the infant’s immune system and reduces the risk of mortality up to 20%. The risk of mortality in infants who are not exclusively breastfed is 14 times more than those exclusively breastfed (5). Maternal advantages of breastfeeding include more rapid return to pre-pregnancy weight, decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, osteopoosteoporosis, post-delivery depression and breast and ovarian cancer (6).
As a new mother, one is most concerned about breast milk production and duration of feeds to their infants. Breast milk insufficiency is one of the mothers’ main reasons to stop breastfeeding in the first six to eight weeks after birth (7). Using Galactogogues is recommended to resolve this problem. Galactagogues are some substances or medicines that initiate, enhance and maintain milk production (8, 9).
Fennel is a herb with galactogogues property. The scientific name of Fennel is Foeniculum vulgare, which belongs to the Umbelliferae family. The root, leaf, fruit and seed of Fennel are used (11, 12). This plant contains comphen, Fencho and Anethol essences. About 60% of oilseed essence consists of Anethol. It seems that Fennel galactogogues mechanism results from the Estrogenic and Phyto-estrogenic properties of Anethol and its polymers such as Di-Anethol and Photo-Anethol. Phyto-estrogens due to their structural similarity to estrogens can attach to α and β Estrogens’ receptors to exert estrogenic properties (13-15). In simple terminology, a galactagogue is a drug or a food source that aids in increasing the milk supply of nursing mothers. The reason that fennel is considered to be one is that it has phytoestrogens, which is similar to the estrogen hormone that is naturally formed by the human body.
Here is how you can consume fennel as part of your breastfeeding diet:
1. As tea
2. As a flavoring agent in any dish
3. As capsules
4. For topical application
Apart from increasing lactation, there are additional health benefits of consuming fennel:
1. Prevents Anaemia
2. Helps in digestion
3. Prevents constipation
4. Boosts Immunity
5. Regulates blood pressure
But as a feeding mother, one should be mindful of the conditions when the consumption of fennel should be avoided, as mentioned below:
1. Epilepsy or other seizures
2. Diabetes or Hypoglycaemia
Fennel has many benefits, but it should be consumed in moderate amounts, after discussing duly with the Medical expert. If you are not careful, it can be detrimental to your health.
Disclaimer: The information given in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We urge readers to seek the advice of a physician before trying any home remedies.
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