Milk Supply Offenders: Foods, Drinks and Drugs

Low milk supply is usually caused by inefficient milk removal. Either the baby in not eating often enough or he is not eating efficiently. Unfortunately, these are not the only possible reasons for a low milk supply. It could actually be that something you are eating, drinking or taking is lowering your supply.

Herbs that Lower Milk Supply

Just as there are herbs that can improve a milk supply, there are herbs that can cause a decrease in milk. Sage tea is used to decrease milk supply in the case of over supply. It is often used in cooking. Parsley seems to have the same affect if eaten in large amounts like in tabouleh. Peppermint is known for decreasing milk supply and mothers with over supply are often recommended to suck on strong peppermint candies. Most women can have all of these things in moderation with no ill effects but if you may want to avoid them if you are having problems with your milk supply.


Alcohol lowers both your milk supply and your milk ejection reflex (flow). For some women, even a single glass of wine or beer is enough to disturb the proper balance of hormones needed for lactation. Normally the affects of alcohol on your milk supply last only as long as there is alcohol in your blood stream but chronic use could lead to constant undersupply.


Nicotine inhibits prolactin secretion and milk production. It has also been found that mothers who smoke have less fat in their milk than mothers who don't smoke.


Several medications have been found to lower milk production. Bromocriptine (Paradole) and Cabergoline (Dostinex) are both used to dry up milk in mothers who don't want to nurse. Buproprian (Wellbutrin, Zyban) has also been found to suppress milk production. Pseudoephedrine, which is found in Sudafed and other cold and allergy medications may also lower milk supply. Some vasoconstrictors, such as methylergovine and ergonovine, which are used to control post partum bleeding, inhibit lactation.

Hormonal Birth Control

Perhaps one of the biggest offenders is hormonal birth control, especially those that contain estrogen such as combination birth control pills, injectable birth control (Depo-Provera), certain IUDs, patches and subdermal implants. The sooner these are used, the worse the affects. Most women can use the mini-pill that contains only progesterone without ill affects.