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  • Writer's pictureChardá Bell, IBCLC, CBE, CD

Does Coconut Oil Increase Milk Supply?

TikTok and social media in general has become THE place for trends and finding how to "easy" solutions to almost anything. The bad part of this is those quick fixes are simply a "band aid" solution to cover it up but it doesn't get to root of the real issue causing the problem. This means it will come back and keep coming back until "the why" is discovered and then resolved.

So I've been seeing this craze of eating coconut oil to increase milk supply all over TikTok. One woman (all tea no shade--who is not a lactation professional) is using her own anecdotal "evidence" of eating heaping spoonfuls of coconut oil everyday to say this is why she has so much milk. She is telling moms that if they just do what she does they will have a gallon of breast milk in the fridge every day like she does. Umm okay...but where's the science, evidence, facts of how this works??? There isn't.

Now y'all probably think I'm a hater because you might have wanted that to work or even tried it yourself, but I'm just keepin it 💯 with y'all so you aren't out here buying stuff you don't need to buy! Save them dollar$ for something that actually has been proven to help.

While I'm happy she is promoting breastfeeding and trying to empower moms, the major problem here is the false hope. What works for one doesn't work for all. People try these gimmicks and either have the placebo effect if they think it worked, they probably were doing something else right not this. Then a lot of people are let down and think something is wrong with them when it doesn't work the same way.

What you don't see is that she might not be eating this at all, and could just be pumping and feeding a lot. She could be an overproducer from too much pumping or even a medical condition like a Prolactinoma. I've worked with 2 people with Prolactinomas and they will tell you having a lot of milk is not always fun at all!

Either way, having too much milk is not always a good thing. There's lack of storage space in the fridge and freezer, because it's more than your baby can actually even drink. Plugged ducts, engorgement, mastitis if the milk sits too long in the breast, and aching breasts from being too full. All no bueno.

Most parents are concerned about milk supply, this is common, especially when you are exclusively breastfeeding. So it can be hard to trust that your baby is getting enough when you can't see how much is going in like the bottle. It sucks that our boobs don't have those ounces indicators on them right! We have to learn to trust our bodies.

So you are trying to make more milk out of concern, but we really need to find out first should we even be concerned? Find an IBCLC lactation consultant to get a weighted feed to see how much milk your baby is transferring at breast for peace of mind.

But until then, you still wanna know can coconut oil really increase your milk supply?

The short answer to this question is NO.

There are NO scientific studies demonstrating that coconut oil increases milk supply. There is some evidence that ingesting coconut products increases the antimicrobial properties of breast milk.

I'm all about evidence based research when it comes to providing solutions for lactation challenges.

If you or baby are not allergic to nuts or coconut, it's generally considered safe to eat it while breastfeeding, like most things are, but it won't yield more milk. There is nothing lactogenic about it, meaning there are no properties in it that promote milk production. There are galactagogues; herbs, substances, medications and foods that can help, but this ain't that.

Wanna know how you can use it to help? Keep reading! See, I'm not a total hater, I bring you knowledge which is power and empowering!

Here are some ways to use coconut oil for breastfeeding that don't involve eating it:

  • Apply it to your nipples after feeding to help and prevent cracks, dryness, soreness and minor damage. Yes, it is safe for baby to ingest with a little on the breast but I wouldn't feed it to the baby by itself. If you have major damage (bleeding or torn skin, this won't do the trick. Find a lactation consultant and ask about medi-honey for speedy healing)

  • Apply it to your breast pump flanges (the part your breast and nipple go into) this will help reduce friction and soreness. The nipple should be touching the inside of the tunnel and gliding gently in and out of the tunnel, the coconut oil will help it move smoothly. Also make sure you are using the right flange size. More on that here.

  • Organic non-GMO Extra virgin cold pressed is the ideal choice. Any edible kind will do. Unrefined and refined are both fine, unrefined just means less processed.

  • You can use it in your homemade lactation treats that have ingredients that have actual lactogenic properties for a baby health boost. A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that breastfeeding women who ingested coconut oil had significantly higher levels of lauric acid in their breast milk which has powerful anti-microbial fatty acids that protects the immune system of your baby.

  • Use a little to help with diagnosed thrush, which is a fungal infection that can involve your breast, nipples and babies mouth. Since coconut oil is a powerful anti-fungal, when used correctly on the breast--not in baby's mouth--it may help mitigate symptoms of thrush.

Coconut oil is an amazingly affordable and natural holistic solution to help with common breastfeeding challenges, increasing milk isn't one of them.

If you are still looking for ways to increase your supply see my post on power pumping, right flange size, deep latch and galactagogues. Do know that it takes time, patience and commitment but you can do it! Seek a professional if you are still struggling.

I offer FREE lactation consults to Black parents anywhere in the world virtually.

In my Southeast San Diego Breastfeeding Clinic on Tuesdays in San Diego, CA

Home visits for 6 weeks and under or multiples of any age.

All others pay cash or use insurance. I accept Anthem PPO, Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO, Cigna PPO. Aetna coming soon.

Happy Feeding!

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