Before-and-after weights to assess the effect of herbs and medication

Can before-feed and after-feed weights tell me if an herb or medication is increasing my milk supply?

Before-feed and after-feed weights can be used to see if herbs or medications used to increase milk supply (galactagogues) are working. It takes a few days for a galactagogue to start or to stop working. If mothers are already taking a galactagogue, they can measure their milk supply for a couple of days, stop taking the item, and then measure again four days later. If they want to start taking the galactagogue, they should first measure their milk supply for a couple of days, start the galactagogue, and measure again after four days. If the galactagogue isn’t making much difference, they can repeat this in one week. If it is still not making a difference, they should not continue using it.

A) Describing using before-and-after weights to see if an herb or medication is increasing milk supply

Herbs or medications such as domperidone and metoclopramide used to increase milk supply, are called galactagogues. If you are taking or considering using a galactagogue, you can use before-feed and after-feed weights (before-and-after weights) to see if it is helping.

Most outlets that rent breastfeeding scales require you to rent one for one week. During this time, you can stop or start a galactagogue to see its effect on milk production.

B) How to use before-and-after weights to assess the effect of a galactagogue

1) Medication

Domperidone and metoclopramide are the most commonly-used medications to increase milk supply. It takes these medications four and two days respectively to start and to stop working.

If a mother is taking medication and uses before-and-after weights, she can:

  1. Measure what her milk supply is on Days 1 and 2 while taking the medication.
  2. Stop the medication at the end of Day 2.
  3. Do another full 24 hours of before-and-after weights on Days 6 and 7.
  4. If the daily milk amounts fall significantly, she needs to re-start the medication.
  5. If there is not a significant decrease in milk supply on Days 6 and 7, mothers may wish to extend the rental of the scale and do another full 24 hours of before-and-after weight on Days 13 and 14 to confirm that her milk supply is stable without medication. If the daily milk amounts do not fall, she no longer needs the medication.

Similarly, if a mother wants to start taking medication and measure its effects, she can:

  1. Measure what her milk supply is on Days 1 and 2 without medication.
  2. Start the medication at the end of Day 2.
  3. Do another full 24 hours of before-and-after weights on Days 6 and 7.
  4. If the daily milk amounts rise significantly, she should continue the medication. 
  5. If there is not a significant increase of milk supply on Days 6 and 7, mothers may wish to extend the rental of the scale and do another full 24 hours of before-and-after weight on Days 13 and 14 to confirm that the medication is not effective and she should stop taking it. 

If the amount of breast milk produced is the same or nearly the same with and without medication, it is not making a difference and should not be used. To justify taking medication, it needs to significantly increase the amount of milk made.

2) Herbs

The amount of time needed for herbs to be effective after starting or no longer be effective after stopping is varied but this would probably be within one week and at the most, two weeks. The above before-and-after weight plan should be effective in measuring the effect of an herb.