Ginger is a traditional home remedy for treating nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy. But don’t stop consuming ginger just yet. Learn about these 6 amazing benefits of ginger for breastfeeding moms.
Who doesn’t know health benefits of ginger for relieving nausea and morning sickness during early pregnancy? But wondering whether it is safe to consume when you are breastfeeding? Or Does it help boost your milk supply?
Ginger is believed to be a galactagogue in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has been used in some cultures to boost the breast milk in postpartum mothers.
Read on to learn about the health benefits and potential risks of ginger for breastfeeding moms.
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What is Ginger?
Ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and rhizome or “underground part” called root is commonly used as a spice. This nutritional herb is used in a form of fresh root, powdered, dried, or as a juice or oil for cooking.
It is been used as an alternative medicine for thousand of years for the treatment of indigestion, nausea, common cold, arthritic, muscular pains to name a few in many Asian and middle eastern cultures.
The main bioactive compound of ginger attributed for its medicinal properties is gingerol. It is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxident properties (1).
Ginger is most effective in treatment of morning sickness during pregnancy. A randomized control trial with 1,278 pregnant women in 2014 has shown that 1-1.5 grams of ginger can significantly reduce symptoms of nausea (2).
A 2016 systematic review also found that Ginger was helpful in the treatment of mild morning sickness during pregnancy (3).
It is a common practice to offer ginger to women to speed up postpartum recovery in certain part of the world. It is also believed to increase breast milk production.
But is it safe during breastfeeding? Let’s find out.
Is it Safe to consume Ginger during Breastfeeding?
Ginger is a herbal compound and considered safe during breastfeeding when consumed in moderation. It is not likely to cause any hard to the infant when used in fresh form or consumed in small dose.
However, very limited scientific data exist on safety and efficacy of ginger in breastfeeding mothers or infants.
Although it is considered “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) as a food flavoring agent by FDA, it might NOT be right for every breastfeeding mother. Always check with your doctor before including it in your diet while breastfeeding.
Can Consuming Ginger during Breastfeeding change the Flavor of Breast Milk?
Whatever breastfeeding mother consumes, baby gets a flavor of it via the breast milk. Which is good news as if you want your kids to like your ethnic foods when you introduce solids to your babies, they will accept those foods easily as they are already exposed to the flavors via breast milk (4).
Like any other food breastfeeding mom consume, ginger can change the flavor of the breast milk. Ginger has strong flavor. While most babies don’t mind variations in the taste of breast milk, some babies may refuse to breastfeed or do not breastfeed well after you have introduced ginger in your diet. If this is the case, you may want to stop consuming ginger and find other supplements to boost your milk supply.
6 Amazing Benefits of Ginger for Breastfeeding Moms
Consuming fresh ginger or a small dose of ginger can have a tremendous health benefits for breastfeeding moms and their babies.
1. Help Relieve Nausea
A small percentage of breastfeeding mothers complains about nausea during nursing session in the first few days of breastfeeding. Consuming ginger may help relieve nausea by increasing the production of saliva and digestive enzymes.
2. Help Reduce Gas and Cramps
Most women that have given birth naturally or had c-section, experiences abdominal gas and bloating. If you are unable to pass gas may experience cramps in their stomach.
Drinking ginger tea may help reduce gas and bloating by same mechanism it uses to treat nausea. Saliva contains the digestive enzyme amylase and ginger contains enzyme zingibain. These enzymes help digest food faster and move food faster from digestive tracts thereby reducing gas and associated stomach cramps.
3. Help Increase Milk Production
Breastfeeding mothers can benefit from consuming ginger whether they want to build a healthy milk supply or want to maintain their supply.
Ginger is considered a lactogenic food in Ayurveda and Chinese Traditional Medicine. It is used in some cultures for boosting the milk supply. However, strong scientific evidence for its effectiveness in increasing milk supply are still lacking.
One double-blind controlled study published in 2016 concluded that ginger increased milk supply in early postpartum in breastfeeding mothers and no side effects were reported (5). The result of this study looks promising!!
4. Helps Fight off Cold and Sore Throat
While you may not prefer antibiotics when breastfeeding to treat viral or bacterial illnesses, give ginger a try.
There are scientific evidence that show that ginger helps prevent colds, reduce congestion, prevent, or soothe a sore throat and reduce inflammation (6).
Its medicinal properties are attributed to powerful phytonutrients named gingerols in ginger root.
Recommended Reading: 5 Best Immune System Booster to Fight off Cold and Viral Illness
5. Help in Postpartum Healing
In Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, ginger is considered a ‘warming food’. It is commonly given to women in the early postpartum period to speed up healing process.
6. Help your Colicky Baby
Baby’s immature gut may benefit from consuming ginger while breastfeeding. Digestive enzymes passed onto baby via breast milk may aid digestion in a baby’s immature gut relieving symptoms of colic in babies.
Certain brand of gripe water contains ginger in addition to other herb for the treatment of colic in babies.
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How to incorporate Ginger in your diet when breastfeeding?
Ginger can be consumed in multiple ways.
- Ginger tea: Most popular and refreshing way of consuming ginger is making a fresh ginger tea. Boil two to three thin slices of peeled fresh ginger root in water for few minutes. Pour into a mug add in some lemon slices, honey and enjoy!! Sipping ginger tea is very soothing when you are down with flu, cold or cough and it also helps relieve nasal congestion.
- Ginger Root: Peel ginger root and grate it or chop it. Add it in your soup, salad or add it in curry dishes, sauté it with your vegetable, use it to make salad dressing or back cookies or bread.
- Ginger Ale: This caffeine-free soft drink contains ginger and tastes great too. It is safe to drink while breastfeeding as long as you don’t overdo it.
- Powdered form or Ginger supplement: If you do not like the strong flavor of fresh ginger, you can consider taking dry ginger powder or ginger supplement. Talk to your lactation consultant or health care provider.
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Who should not consume Ginger while breastfeeding?
Fresh ginger root when consumed in moderation, is considered safe when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, ginger, like any other herb, may interfere with any health issue you might have or medication you are taking.
Even though ginger is regarded as a GRAS by the FDA, it may not be right for every breastfeeding mothers.
It may not be right for you (7),
- If you have suffered from significant blood loss during childbirth, you should avoid consuming ginger in the first few weeks postpartum.
- If you take medications for diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure, or blood clotting as ginger may interfere with drugs effectiveness.
- If you notice fussiness, rash or diarrhea in your baby soon after nursing (after consuming ginger), it may indicate that your baby is sensitive to ginger. You should stop consuming ginger right away.
Like any other herb, it is advisable to talk to your health-care provider before including ginger in your diet when breastfeeding.
Ginger is considered not only safe but offers great health benefits for breastfeeding moms and their babies as long as you do not overdo it.
In addition to aiding to postpartum recovery after childbirth, it is a promising galactagogue to help stimulate production of breast milk in the first few days after the birth of your baby.
However, if you have other medical condition or taking any prescription medications or had a complication during childbirth you should talk to your physician before consuming ginger.
- Wang S, Zhang C, Yang G, Yang Y. Biological properties of 6-gingerol: a brief review. Nat Prod Commun. 2014;9(7):1027‐1030.
- Viljoen E, Visser J, Koen N, Musekiwa A. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Nutr J. 2014;13:20. Published 2014 Mar 19. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-20
- McParlin C, O’Donnell A, Robson SC, et al. Treatments for Hyperemesis Gravidarum and Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Systematic Review. JAMA. 2016;316(13):1392‐1401. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.14337
- De Cosmi V, Scaglioni S, Agostoni C. Early Taste Experiences and Later Food Choices. Nutrients. 2017;9(2):107. Published 2017 Feb 4. doi:10.3390/nu9020107
- Paritakul P, Ruangrongmorakot K, Laosooksathit W, Suksamarnwong M, Puapornpong P. The Effect of Ginger on Breast Milk Volume in the Early Postpartum Period: A Randomized, Double-Blind Controlled Trial. Breastfeed Med. 2016;11:361-5. doi:10.1089/bfm.2016.0073
- Khodaie L, Sadeghpoor O. Ginger from ancient times to the new outlook. Jundishapur J Nat Pharm Prod. 2015;10(1):e18402. Published 2015 Jan 17. doi:10.17795/jjnpp-18402
- Therapeutic Research Center. Natural Medicines – Ginger.
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