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Odd Enough Lactation tea is all the rage with some breastfeeding moms — but does it work?

And when "lactation teas" pop to the top of your search results, you might be tempted to click purchase.

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lactation tea

(Photograph by Getty Images)

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Breastfeeding is hard, and your milk supply isn't always as hearty as you’d like it to be. That’s why you might find yourself frantically Googling things like “ways to boost milk supply” and "how the F do I get more milk?" in the middle of the night.

And when "lactation teas" pop to the top of your search results, you might be tempted to click purchase.

But are lactation teas are legit—or a total scam?

The reality is, there isn’t a ton of science behind these teas. “The evidence isn’t really strong on these teas, it’s more anecdotal,” says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D.

Julie Lamppa, A.P.R.N., a certified nurse midwife at Mayo Clinic, agrees, noting that research doesn’t clearly support that they actually work. “The clinical trials which do show that lactation teas or herbs help boost milk supply tend to be small sample sizes and are poorly designed,” she says.

READ ALSO: This mom says the pressure to breastfeed led to her infant’s death

The safety of herbal supplements (including lactation teas) for moms and their babies isn’t totally clear, either. However, “if mega-dosing is avoided, they likely have a relative safety,” Lamppa says.

Lactation teas usually include fenugreek, which is thought to increase milk flow, Wider says. But again, the evidence that this works is largely anecdotal.

However, fenugreek may act like estrogen in your body, so it isn’t safe if you have a history of hormone-sensitive cancers. You also shouldn’t take it when you’re pregnant because it may trigger uterine contractions, Wider says.

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If you want to try a lactation tea, talk to your doctor and your baby’s pediatrician. Lactation teas are generally considered safe for your baby, says Ashanti Woods, M.D., a pediatrician at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, but it’s a good idea to check in.

However, it’s important not to overdo it. If you take more than directed, you may actually decrease your milk supply and suffer other weird side effects attributed to fenugreek, like heartburn, abdominal pain, and B.O.,

Woods says. “In some cases, the baby's urine may develop a sweet, maple odor if Mom takes too much tea,” he says, also due to compounds in fenugreek. This isn’t harmful to the baby, he says, but it’s definitely noticeable.

READ ALSO: This mom says she breastfeeds during sex — And people are not having it

To boost your milk supply, make sure you’re staying well-hydrated, nurse your baby frequently, and avoid supplementing with bottles, Wider says. As for lactation teas, you’re probably okay to use them, but it’s really best to check in with your doctor first. “The bottom line is that we need large, well-designed clinic trials to really look at the efficacy of herbal supplementation for milk production,” Lamppa says.

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