One of my favorite words in the English language is “galactagogue.”Â It refers, of course, to a drug that promotes lactation. Duh.
I’ve even taken a few galactagogues in my day, thanks to Auggie’s weak suck when he was born. (Just to bring you up to speed on the story: Having never breastfed before, I didn’t realize there was anything wrong until Auggie’s two-week doctor’s appointment. By then, my supply had fallen dangerously low.)
You see, one of the many amazing things about breastfeeding is that the whole thing is based upon supply and demand. If the baby eats more often, your body responds my making more milk. If he slows down his feeding (because you’ve started solids or gone back to work, etc.), you make less. Now, there are exceptions to every rule, of course, and I’m thinking of those poor moms that make enough milk for two or even three babies, no matter how much their babies eat. More rare, however, is the mom who cannot make enough for her baby.
Lots of moms think that they’re not making enough, for lots of erroneous reasons. It truly is a rare thing when a woman doesn’t have an adequate milk supply, if the baby is nursing well.
Anyway, I’m bringing up galactagogues because I just heard at my La Leche League Coordinating Council meeting that there is a local pharmacy that sells domperidone, the drug that I took to help reestablish my milk supply.
Since domperidone is not approved in the US, I ordered it on the Internet, after reading about it on a great breastfeeding site. I even contacted Dr. Jack Newman, a breastfeeding expert in Canada, because he has studied domperidone extensively.
This still didn’t help relieve my feelings that I was doing something illicit. I mean, was I really going to take a drug that came all the way from Australia? I’m sure the Australian version of the FDA does a great job and all, but why wasn’t domperidone available in the States?
So I broke down and took it anyway, since I had been working to build my supply up for six weeks and still couldn’t get past that one last bottle of formula a day. Every time I felt like I was caught up, Auggie would hit a growth spurt and we’d be back to square one.
I took it one afternoon, and that evening, and the next morning I woke up with plenty of milk for Auggie. He never took another drop of formula.
I eventually found out that the reason that domperidone isn’t approved in the US is because the manufacturer has never sought approval here. (It’s approved in Canada and Mexico.) You see, it’s main use is for people with reflux. The US has a ton of drugs that treat reflux, without the happy side effect of increased lactation. Not everyone wants that, if you can imagine.
So now that this pharmacy is making it (I guess the components are approved, and the LC I spoke to last night mentioned that maybe domperidone was never not approved in the US. I know, I’m confused too.), lots of moms will have a much better option in the ole galactagogue market here in the States.
You see, I also tried fenugreek, which is an herb that you take in fairly large quantities. It didn’t help me a lot, probably because my supply was so low, but I did start to smell like maple syrup, which was an interesting side effect. Then my doctor prescribed Reglan (her exact words were, ‘I’ve never had anyone ask me to prescribe a drug to help them make more milk.’), but after two days, its side effects of uncontrollable shaking and anxiety were making me a basket case.
Domperidone had no effect on me at all. Actually, after I stopped taking it, I was a little heartburn-y for a couple of days, so it was doing its intended job too!
Now, moms won’t have to feel like under-the-table drug dealers to get this awesome drug. There you go.