Knowledge of Galactagogue Use During Breastfeeding in Australia: A Cross Sectional Online Survey

Grace McKenzie McBride, Robyn Stevenson, Gabriella Zizzo, Alice R. Rumbold, Lisa H. Amir, Amy K. Keir, Luke Edward Grzeskowiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Galactagogues have been used for centuries to induce, maintain, or increase a mother’s milk supply. Recently, there has been an apparent increase in utilization and promotion of galactagogues, largely in the absence of data regarding their efficacy and safety. However, there is limited contemporary evidence about knowledge of these substances in the community or how and where individuals seek information. Research Aim: To evaluate knowledge about galactagogue use during breastfeeding among birth parents, including recognition of specific substances, perceptions of safety, and common information sources. Method: An online, prospective, cross-sectional survey of Australian birthing parents (N = 2055) who were currently breastfeeding or had previously breastfed their infants was conducted from September to December 2019. The survey included questions about recognition of galactagogues, perceptions of safety, and information-seeking behaviors. Results: Among participants, 47% (n = 882) were primiparous and 65% (n = 1,219) were currently breastfeeding. The most recognized galactagogues included lactation cookies (89%; n = 1,828), brewer's yeast (79%; n = 1,629), fenugreek (74%; n = 1,519), and domperidone (69%; n = 1,420). Respondents cited the internet (52%; n = 1,066), lactation support providers (46%; n = 951), midwives (42%; n = 873), general practitioners (39%; n = 802), and social media (35%; n = 714) as common information sources. Lactation support providers and breastfeeding helplines were commonly rated as helpful; whereas, general practitioners and community pharmacists were often rated as unhelpful. While most participants perceived galactagogues to be safe, herbal or dietary galactagogues were perceived to be safer than pharmaceutical galactagogues. Conclusions: Our Australian community survey of individuals with current or previous breastfeeding experience identified widespread recognition of galactagogue use, with participants reporting a broad range of information-seeking behaviors and generally perceiving galactagogues as being safe to use.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
Early online date3 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • breastfeeding
  • cross-sectional studies
  • domperidone
  • fenugreek
  • galactagogues
  • human milk
  • lactation
  • questionnaires
  • surveys

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