A Qualitative Study of Breastfeeding Experiences Among Mothers Who Used Galactagogues to Increase Their Milk Supply

Rachel A. Ryan, Allison Doub Hepworth, Jessica Dauz Bihuniak, Audrey Lyndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To qualitatively describe breastfeeding experiences among mothers who used galactagogues to increase their milk supply. Design: One-time, semistructured phone interviews. Setting: US. Participants: Breastfeeding mothers (n = 19) who reported ever consuming foods, beverages, or herbal supplements to increase their milk supply in a cross-sectional online survey were purposefully sampled to participate in this qualitative study. Participants were diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, education, income, infant age (0–18 months), and prior breastfeeding experience (32% first-time breastfeeding). Phenomenon of Interest: Reasons for trying to increase milk supply, sources of information about increasing milk supply, and strategies tried to increase milk supply. Analysis: Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis. Results: Participants expressed determination and commitment to breastfeeding but unexpectedly struggled to breastfeed and increase their milk supply. They sought information from multiple sources and used individualized approaches to address milk supply concerns on the basis of recommendations from others, as well as the perceived convenience, cost, palatability, and safety of potential strategies. Conclusions and Implications: Results suggest a need to expand breastfeeding education and support so that lactating parents anticipate common breastfeeding challenges and are aware of evidence-based strategies for increasing their milk supply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-132
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • breastfeeding
  • galactagogues
  • lactation
  • perceived insufficient milk
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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