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Is it Safe to Breastfeed and Take Herbs for Fertility?

Is it Safe to Breastfeed and Take Herbs for Fertility?

Is it safe to breastfeed while I take herbs for fertility? Some fertility herbs are safe for use when breastfeeding, but how do you know which ones? Are you a breastfeeding mother who is interested in taking herbal remedies to boost fertility? How can you make smart choices when preparing to use herbs for fertility? Can fertility herbs harm your nursing baby? When choosing herbs for fertility, while you are still breastfeeding, it is important to use caution. It is just as important as when you are pregnant. Your body is utilizing everything you take in to make your child’s body. Breastfeeding is an important responsibility.

There is nothing quite as sweet as feeling your baby suckle at your breast. A deep connection and sense of pride. Your body is nourishing your baby’s. Perhaps you are beginning to feel ready for another child. Have you considered using fertility herbs to help you with your next pregnancy? Whether you are just wanting to use herbal remedies to prepare your body for your next pregnancy, or you are already struggling to get pregnant again, you will find this article useful!

I am going to cover common scenarios in which breastfeeding mothers may find themselves. There are fertility situations you may find yourself in, where you may consider taking fertility herbs. Do you fall into any or some of these statements?

I am a breastfeeding mother who…

  • Hasn’t had a menstrual cycle since before I was pregnant.
  • Is having irregular menstrual cycles since my menstrual cycle has begun, after the birth of my child.
  • Has been trying to get pregnant again unsuccessfully.
  • Has a history of infertility.
  • Conceived through IVF.
  • Has low progesterone.
  • Wants to prepare for another pregnancy.
  • Has a history of fertility issues such as PCOS, endometriosis, uterine fibroids.
  • Is over 40 with poor egg health.
  • Is breastfeeding my toddler or older baby.
  • Was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure.

If you find you can relate to any of those statements and are interested in herbal remedies for those situations, please do thorough research before taking any herbs.

Are Natural Fertility Herbs Safe for My Breastfed Baby?
Natural options for boosting fertility seem safer than medications for breastfeeding moms. Just because they are natural, does not mean they will not have a toxic effect on your baby. Some medicinal actions of herbal remedies may be passed through breast milk to your baby. Because babies have low weight, quicker circulation, are still developing, and have immature organs and body systems, anything that has an effect on your body is going to have a much stronger effect on your baby. An older baby has a much greater capacity to handle herbal remedies than a baby that is under 6 months. This does not mean that it is okay to take all herbal remedies once your baby is older, but it is something to take into consideration. As your baby becomes more mature, he/she will be able to better metabolize and detoxify what is ingested. Nourishing food herbs are going to be the safest.

Common Fertility Herbs and Their Safety for Breastfeeding

Note: This list may not contain all herbs you are looking for. All the herbs listed have the most common fertility actions listed, as well as safety for breastfeeding. Every mother and child is different; it is best to speak with a health care practitioner before beginning any new herbal remedy.

Alphabetical Order

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa): Nutritive. Contains some phytoestrogens. Aids in protection against xenohormones. Aids in vaginal atrophy and dryness. Nourishing as an infusion for breastfeeding moms. Leafy parts only.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): This is an adaptogen herb, mild sedative, pain reduction, anti-inflammatory, aids in healthy blood cell formation. Used for PMS, PCOS, stress, pain, anxiety, depression, postpartum depression. May suppress respiratory function in excessive doses. May be best to only use this herb while breastfeeding, under the care of your health care practitioner.

Bee Products (Royal Jelly, Bee Pollen, Bee Propolis): Use to balance hormones, support endocrine function. Because bee products may contain a variety of many plant parts, there is an increased risk of allergy for you and your baby. If there is a history of bee allergy, including honey, on either side of the family, there is an increased risk for bee allergy in your baby. It is best to avoid bee products in therapeutic dosage, outside of honey in the food you eat, when breastfeeding. Never feed a baby honey prior to 1 year of age, due to risk of botulism poisoning.

Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa): Used to treat painful menstruation, PMS, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, dysfunctional labor and amenorrhea. Limited-to-no research to show if it is safe for breastfeeding. Should be avoided during breastfeeding.

Black Haw (Viburnum prunifolium): Commonly used for painful menstruation. Pain associated with endometriosis, uterine fibroids. May reduce contractions for threatened miscarriage. For breastfeeding mothers it has been shown fine to use for acute situations where pain is present. Not for use consistently long-term while breastfeeding.

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides): Sometimes used for women with absent periods. Is a uterine and ovarian tonic. Aids in painful menstruation. No information regarding safety of Blue cohosh for breastfeeding. Should be avoided during breastfeeding.

Burdock (Arctium lappa): Nourishing and cleansing for the liver, aiding in hormonal balance. Currently Burdock is shown to be compatible with breastfeeding. There have been some reports of skin rash in breastfed babies whose families have a history of allergy to plants in the Compositae family.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomom spp.): Often used to control blood sugar levels in women with PCOS. Not recommended in therapeutic doses for breastfeeding moms. Fine to use in cooking.

Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus): Commonly used for painful menstruation. Pain associated with endometriosis, uterine fibroids. May reduce contractions for threatened miscarriage. For breastfeeding mothers, it has been shown fine to use for acute situations where pain is present. Not for use consistently long-term while breast-feeding.

Damiana (Turnera diffusa): Increases libido. Possible toxic effects, not recommended for breastfeeding.

Dandelion leaf (Taraxacum officinale): Nourishing. Used to increase nutrition, supportive of liver health, for hormonal balance. Dandelion leaf is also a diuretic, so do not exceed safe dosage, as this may cause diarrhea. Safe for breastfeeding when taken as an infusion or eaten as a food. Babies lack vitamin K when born and Dandelion leaf is high in vitamin K; drinking this while breastfeeding may offer your baby some much needed vitamin K.

Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale): Aids in liver health, stimulates digestion. Safe for breastfeeding when eaten as a food. Not for use in therapeutic dosage. Best made into an infusion.

Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis): Aids in hormonal balance. Used for congestive fertility states such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, PCOS, ovarian cysts. Supports healthy circulation to the uterus, nourishing for the blood. Reduction in pain associated with reproductive organs. Do not use while breastfeeding. There has been some case reports of rash in infants whose mothers were taking Dong Quai while breastfeeding.

Evening Primrose Oil (Oonethera biennis): Aids in hormonal balance. Rich source of omega 6 fatty acids (LA & GLA). Has been used to increase quality of breast milk. LA and GLA are components of healthy breast milk. Safe for breastfeeding.

False Unicorn Root (Chamaelirium luteum): Uterine and ovarian tonic, supports regular menstruation. This plant is endangered, we do not recommend using it. Not recommended for breastfeeding.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): Supports the nervous system. Aids in lowering stress-related fertility issues. Possible interaction with lowering thyroid function, not recommended for women on hypothyroid medications. May be safe for breastfeeding in limited quantities in an infusion. No more than 1 cup a day; not for long-term use.

Licorice Rt. (Glychirrhiza glabra): Adaptogen. Used to promote hormonal balance. May increase estrogen. Not recommended for breastfeeding in therapeutic doses. Safe for occasional use in a tea blend.

Maca (Lepidium meyenii): Adaptogen. Nourishing to the endocrine system, promoting and aiding in overall hormonal balance. Limited research on safety for breastfeeding. Acute toxicity and cytotoxicity studies have shown no potential toxicity for Maca. Hundreds of thousands of people have used maca with no reported side effects. Peruvian mothers have eaten it for thousands of years, even while breastfeeding. That being said, because there is limited research for safety of use during breastfeeding, it is not suggested for use while breastfeeding.

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum): Supports liver health, regenerates liver cells. Liver health contributes to proper hormonal balance. Has been used for hundreds of years to support and increase breast milk supply. May be safe in most cases for breastfeeding. May also help reduce postpartum depression.

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca): Use for painful menstruation associated with endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids. Aids in bringing on menstruation. Uterine tonic. Aids in heart health, protecting and uplifting for depression and stress. Limited research on use for breastfeeding. Best used only in acute situations under the guidance of a skilled health care practitioner.

Nettles (Urtica doica): Nourishing. High in vitamins and minerals. Has been used for hundreds of years to help keep up mother’s milk supply, aiding in rich healthy breast milk. Best consumed as an infusion.

Oat Straw/Milky Oats (Avena sativa): Nourishing, aids in stress reduction by supporting nervous system. Great support for stress related fertility issues. Fresh Milky Oats is stronger than Oat Straw. Used to increase breast milk supply. Safe for use while breastfeeding.

Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus, spp): Nutritive. Uterine tonic. This plant has a high tannin content, which theoretically may lower iron absorption. Shown to be safe for breastfeeding. Best combined with an herb high in vitamin C for proper iron absorption, like Hibiscus flower or Rose Hips. Best taken as an infusion.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense): Nutritive. Phytoestrogenic, may help protect body from xenohormones. Standardized Red Clover isoflavone products should not be used during breastfeeding, because of increase in estrogenic activity. Red Clover infusion has been shown safe for breastfeeding when consumed on occasion.

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens): Aids in reducing high androgen levels, may support estrogen balance. May reduce hirsutism in women with PCOS. Not recommended for use while breastfeeding.

Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus): Estrogen regulator. May aid in hormonal balance and regulation of the menstrual cycle. Shown to aid in immunological fertility issues. Some studies show that Shatavari may increase a mother’s milk supply. This herb has shown signs of contributing to prolactin production. It is important to be mindful of potential risk for heavy metal contamination when purchasing herbs from India. Shatavari is native to India. It would be best to search out a reputable source for this herb that is organic and fair trade.

Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris): May aid in regulation of ovulation. Increases libido. Not for use while breastfeeding.

Vitex also known as Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus): Used to regulate menstrual cycle, bring on absent period, indirectly increase progesterone production. Many women have used Vitex to increase milk supply when breastfeeding. Some research shows that Vitex inhibits prolactin production, which may decrease breast milk supply. Current information shows that Vitex is safe for use while breastfeeding when taken at lower doses.

Yarrow (Achilia millefolium): Astringent; aids in reduction of heavy menstrual bleeding. May help to bring on menstruation. Aids in reduction of painful menstruation. Aids in reduction of pelvic congestion. May be consumed in very low doses during breastfeeding, under the advised care of a practitioner. If your baby has a history of allergy to the Compositae plant family (sunflowers, asters, daisy), this herb should be avoided.

For a complete list of Fertility Herbs and their actions click here…

Are your Fertility Programs safe for me to use while breastfeeding?

We do not recommend using our Fertility Programs for breastfeeding moms. Each program may contain herbal blends which may have some herbs not suitable for breastfeeding. They may also contain other supplements that may not be suitable for breastfeeding. If you have questions on a specific product, please contact us for more information.

Should I Continue Breastfeeding or Stop to Try and Conceive?

All mothers come to this world with different fertility needs. If you find that you are caught between continuing to breastfeed the baby you hold in your arms today, and getting pregnant again as soon as possible, consider the following…

  • If you are nursing a baby that is under 9 months old, breastfeeding may be more important than trying to conceive. The nourishment and bonding are very important for baby. If you get pregnant while still breastfeeding, your milk supply may lower, your milk may dry up in some cases, and your desire to continue breastfeeding may feel like a struggle. Breastfeeding while pregnant is possible, but it takes a huge commitment and drive to maintain adequate milk supply. If you choose to continue breastfeeding while pregnant, be sure that you are eating a whole food nutrient-dense diet, drinking plenty of water and getting adequate rest!
  • If your baby is older than a year, do you think your baby may be ready to wean? You have breastfed for a year now, great job! Greatly consider the needs of your baby. Each child is different. Pay attention to the needs of your child. Are you and baby ready for weaning and moving to full time food and other milk choices? I have found that just by night weaning, or cutting nursing times in half, may greatly increase fertility. This may even bring on menstrual cycles in women who have yet to menstruate!
  • Are you an older mom that feels time is running out? If you are nearing, or are over 40, you may want to weigh the options, breastfeeding or conception? This may take some planning with you and your partner. While we feel breastfeeding is very important, you have to decide if your chances of expanding your family is more pressing.

A Note About Medications and Breastfeeding

If you are interested in information regarding the safety of medications and breastfeeding, I highly recommend the book The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins, R.N., M.S., now in its 6th edition! I love this book. It has a great section at the end, in detail, about medication safety while breastfeeding.

I hope you find this article helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions!


  • Romm, Aviva. (2010). Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. St. Louis, Missouri: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Huggins, Kathleen R.N., M.S. (1990). The Nursing Mother’s Companion Revised Edition. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Common Press.
  • Mills, Simon; Bone, Kerry. (2005). The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. St. Louis, Missouri: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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  1. Avatar

    I noted that VITEX in lower doses is noted as being an herb safe for use while breastfeeding. What is considered a lower dose? I recall reading elsewhere on your site that the recommended dose for VITEX as 900-1000mg. What is recommended while breastfeeding? FWIW–I am breastfeeding a 22 month old twice a day.

    • Dear Lucy,

      It will be best to discuss the best dose of Vitex for you while breastfeeding with an herbalist, doula, midwife or natural healthcare provider near you. There may also be resources online that specialize in the use of herbs while breastfeeding (which we do not).

      Best wishes as you seek answers.

  2. Avatar

    Is there anything i can take to help me get preg while nursing. My son was conceived through my first IVF cycle 2.5 yrs ago since having him ive done 3 FETs and there not working. I think its cause of the nursing. Does Nursing make your uterus contract? Would Cramp Bark help if i took it during a transfer? MY son only nurses 2-3 times a day. We really want a sibling for our son. But im also 38 yrs old. Just to add ive had reg cycles every 28 days for the past year.

    I just saw the question under mine so i will add. I use OPKs i am Ovulating even though i dont need to be cause im doing IVF. I also had my prolactin checked and it was 9 very low. Could it be the nursing still causing all these failures. We are transferring our last embryo in 20 days. This is breaking my heart. My son does not want to stop nursing at bed time.

    • Dear Renae,

      Thanks for reaching out to us! This would be a good conversation to have with your reproductive endocrinologist. Healthy pregnancy while breastfeeding is possible. Perhaps a uterine tone issue, or even a uterine-lining health issue due to hormone balance while breastfeeding or not menstruating for many months in a row, could be a cause for FET not being successful I suspect. That said, your doctor is best able to help you know this.

      Moving forward, consider learning Important Tips for Trying to Conceive While Breastfeeding
      From night weaning, to herbs and nutrition, learn important and practical information on how to be successful when trying to conceive while breastfeeding and about The Best Herbs to Help You Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding. These tips we share are best used in preparation for FET. Your doctor may approve of the use of certain things like Cramp bark (like that is in the Fertilica product UteriCalm) during FET, but do be sure he/she approves.

      I hope this is helpful!

  3. Avatar

    Hi There. We’ve decided to start ttc for baby #2. I’m nursing my 13 month old daughter about 4 times a day. My cycles returned at about 3 months pp. It took a couple months to regulate, but are pretty consistently 28-30days. Since my cycles have returned, will breastfeeding have any impact on my fertility? Or can the hormones still effect my chances? Thanks.

  4. Avatar

    Hello there! I am learning so much reading these articles about fertility, so thank you! I am still sporadically nursing my 21 month old daughter (she is nursing about an average of once a day). My periods returned when she was 15 months old, and I went 2 months with regular cycles and since then they are irregular. I don’t know if I’m ovulating each month, and we are trying to conceive. I am getting tired of thinking I might be pregnant each month because my period is late or missed altogether. I plan on implementing the Fertility Diet to help my body bounce back to a more regular schedule, but I’m wondering if there is anything else I should be doing to help my body? Thanks!

  5. Update 2014 – We are back! We have been away for a while and we sure have missed all of your wonderful questions and thoughts on our articles. Moving forward, one of our staff herbalists will be here to respond to comments! We look forward to connecting with our readers once again!

  6. !4 years now no child instead fibroid.