Using Fennel while Breastfeeding

The Fennel Plant

What is Fennel?

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

Fennel has similar properties as the hormone estrogens (Phytoestrogens), thus it’s considered to be 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 in the Following ways...

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 the age of 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 relive colic and gas symptoms in the baby. Video explanation below on page.  
  • Increase sex drive.
  • Reduce menstrual pains.
  • One small study found an increase in 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 into, for the treatment of breast inflammation. 

How Should 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 due to the fact that 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 skin of the beast 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 all around the breast (not on the nipple). Do this AFTER a breastfeeding session. Do not use this 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 liquorice 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 great with shallots and butternut.
  • Herbs or Spices. Fennel leaves can be chopped and then used just like any other culinary herb.
  • Pesto. Try fennel pesto with pasta or rub on meat before cooking. Use the fronds of the fennel in pesto. Garlic and pine nuts compliments the fennel.

Fennel Tea

Fennel Seed

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 in large pieces to promote the oil release.
  3. 1 to 2 teaspoons of chopped fennel root is also easy to brew tea with. The texture of the root can cause the brewing time to be a bit longer.

You can add more ingredients to suit your taste buds. Honey and lemon is 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 the effects it may have.

Add some juice to make a refreshing ice tea.

REMEMBER never to overheat the water, as it may result in the essential components of the fennel being destroyed.

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

Fennel Ice-Cream

Use about 2 teaspoons of crushed fennel seed in any ice cream recipe. It’s wise to let the fennel seeds simmer in your cream too, so that the essential oils are released into the cream.


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


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

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

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

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

Strain fennel cream through fine sieve into custard mixture, pressing on solids. Continue to chill in ice bath until 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 who are 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 that you don’t have a medical condition that will get worse by the exposure thereof. 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 at a time. These allergic reactions may appear on the skin or may effect the resperiatory 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 done on using Fennel while breastfeeding. 

Other pages on breastfeeding problems in connection with this page on Fennel while breastfeeding

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