Vegetables in baskets, including fresh fennel bulbs. 

The Use of Fennel While Breastfeeding

Diet Jan 5, 2021

Table of Contents

What Is Fennel?

Fennel is a Mediterranean herb with yellow flowers, feathery leaves, and a pleasant smell. It’s commonly used for flavoring purposes, but this herb has a lot of hidden value.

Fennel has similar properties to the hormone estrogens (Phytoestrogens); thus, it’s considered a galactagogue.  A galactagogue is a food or drug that promotes or increases the flow of a mother's milk.

Mothers Who Breastfeed Can Use Fennel for the Following Reasons

Fennel has been used for many purposes over the years but is known for the following in breastfeeding communities.

  • Increasing breast milk supply.
  • Colic in breastfed infants (Fennel seed oil can be used for infants from 2 weeks) Before two weeks of age, the baby can still benefit because the active ingredients in Fennel pass through breast milk and help to relieve colic and gas symptoms in the baby.
  • Increase sex drive.
  • Reduce menstrual pains.
  • One small study found an increase in the fat content of breast milk when Fennel was introduced into the mother's diet.
  • Many mothers have used a warm infusion of fennel seeds and marshmallow root to immerse the breast in, to treat breast inflammation.


How Can You Use Fennel?

As a Supplement

It is always best to consume Fennel in its natural form. Over-the-counter Fennel supplements may contain other added ingredients that are not always safe. This is because dietary supplements do not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Apply Topically

Fennel essential oil can be placed topically on the breast's skin to increase milk supply! Fennel oil can be placed neat (without dilution) on the skin, but for easy application, you can mix 15 drops of Fennel oil in a tbsp of coconut oil. Apply a small amount around the breast (not on the nipple). Do this AFTER a breastfeeding session. Do not use this for longer than ten days without breaks in between.

Interesting Ways to Use Fennel in Your Diet

Fennel can be consumed as:

  • A vegetable. It can be eaten raw or cooked.
  • In salads. Use the leafy fronds to add to a green salad. It adds a hint of licorice to each bite.
  • Soups. Fennel can be used with a lot of different vegetables and meats. A few popular soups made with Fennel include chicken, pumpkin, roasted potato, or tomato soup.
  • Stews. Try adding Fennel to your next beef, fish, or pork stew. It goes well with shallots and butternut.
  • Herbs or Spices. Fennel leaves can be chopped and used just like any other culinary herb.
  • Pesto. Try fennel pesto with pasta or rub it on meat before cooking. Use the fronds of the Fennel in pesto. Garlic and pine nuts complement the Fennel.


Fennel Tea

Fennel tea, fennel seeds, fennel breastfeeding tea
A picture of fennel tea with fennel seeds - Photo by Jenn Simpson / Unsplash

Take two cups of water and add one of the following:

  1. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds. Crush the seeds slightly to promote the volatile oils to be released.
  2. The fennel leaves can also be used to make tea. Chop the leaves into large pieces to promote the oil release.
  3. 1 to 2 teaspoons of chopped fennel root is also easy to brew tea with. The root's texture can cause the brewing time to be a bit longer.

You can add more ingredients to suit your taste buds. Honey and lemon are always pleasant with tea.

Let the tea sit for no longer than 10 minutes. The longer the tea sits, the more volatile compounds are released into the air and not your digestive system, thus minimizing its effects.

Add some juice to make a refreshing iced tea.

REMEMBER never to overheat the water, as it may destroy the essential components of the Fennel.

Drink 1 to 2 cups daily. Try one first and then increase if needed.


Fennel Ice-Cream

Use about two teaspoons of crushed fennel seed in any ice cream recipe. Let the fennel seeds simmer in your cream, too, to release the essential oils into the cream.

Ingredients

  • 420ml heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds
  • 250ml milk
  • 190ml sugar
  • 4 large eggs (separated)

Method

Bring cream and fennel seeds to a simmer in a saucepan. Cover the mixture and let it steep for 30 minutes.

Bring milk, 130ml sugar, and a pinch of salt to simmer on medium heat while stirring.

Whisk egg yolks and 60ml sugar and slowly add the milk mixture while still whisking. Return the mixture to the saucepan (stir with a wooden spoon) and cook until the mixture coats the back of the wooden spoon and reaches 175ºF.

Immediately strain the custard through a fine sieve into a metal bowl. Quickly chill by setting the bowl in an ice bath and occasionally stirring until cool. (Takes about 15 minutes)

Strain fennel cream through a fine sieve into the custard mixture, pressing on solids. Continue to chill in an ice bath until the custard is very cold.

Put in ice cream maker.


Giving Your Baby Fennel for Gas and Colic



Warnings About Consuming Fennel While Breastfeeding

  • Not enough is known about the use of Fennel during pregnancy. Consult your healthcare professional before use.
  • Fennel might cause an allergic reaction in people sensitive to celery, carrots, or Mugwort.
  • If you have any bleeding disorders, consult a professional before use. It might slow blood clotting, thus increasing the risk of bleeding or bruising in people with bleeding disorders.
  • As Fennel acts like the hormone estrogen, make sure you don’t have a medical condition that will get worse by exposure. This includes medical conditions such as breast-, uterine- or ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids.
  • Fennel can cause allergic reactions when used at high doses for longer than two weeks. These allergic reactions may appear on the skin or affect the respiratory system. It is best to avoid excessive sunlight while using Fennel.
  • Some oral contraceptives can also be affected by the Phytoestrogen properties of Fennel. Consult a healthcare professional before use.

Some studies were done on using Fennel while breastfeeding.

Other Teas You Might Like to Consider for Increasing Supply

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