There are so many natural ways through which you can boost breast milk. The best way to increase supply is by pumping and breastfeeding often. If you are doing that already and looking for more ways to help your body produce more milk or more nutritious milk then eating a healthy breastfeeding diet is a big part of it.
Personally, I wouldn’t go of any weight loss diet during breastfeeding. I am not saying that you should hog, but a well balanced healthy diet is essential.
While all healthy food is right for you, some foods are believed to stimulate more breast milk. Here is a list of top ten foods that are used in many traditional cultures for nursing mamas.
1. Chicken Bone Broth Soup:
One of the things that my mom made consistently throughout my postpartum phase was soup. There is a reason why your grandma would give you chicken soup while you were sick.
Broth contains amino acid glycine and proline which helps in building soft tissue and wound healing. Your body has gone through a lot of stretching and pushing during pregnancy and labor; bone broth is believed to bring healing and nourishment to the whole body.
Bone broth contains collagen and gelatin that are essential for bone building and reduce soreness in the body.
A Bone broth soup is nutrient dense, easily digested, packed with minerals and vitamins needed for the body. It is also a delicious way to keep you hydrated.
When I say bone broth, I am not talking about any store-bought canned soup. The best way to make bone broth is at home, made from organic, free-range chicken bones. This can be a perfect freezer meal to make and store beforehand.
2.Fish and Green Papaya Soup:
Fish soup is an essential part of Chinese postpartum care tradition. Fish is an excellent source of protein, contains omega – 3 fatty acids that are essential for baby’s brain development.
Just be careful in choosing the right kind of fish and avoid fishes that are high in mercury. The USDA and FDA suggest that nursing mothers avoid consuming shark, swordfish, king mackeral and tilefish as they are high in mercury.
You can opt for salmon, pollock, catfish and canned light tuna that has low mercury levels.
Green papaya is also rich in vitamins A, C, and E. This soup comes together with very few ingredients like fish, green papaya, ginger, and water. There is something very comforting about taking a lot of soup in postpartum; it is hearty, wholesome without making you feel bloated.
Oatmeal is a favorite food to increase milk supply. Oats are full of good protein and essential minerals and vitamins like iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
Oats contain Beta-glucan, a type of fiber that can have a positive effect on the milk inducing hormone, Prolactin.
Oats are also a good source of fiber that is needed in your postpartum diet to reduce constipation and get things moving down there.
You can take oatmeal for breakfast in the form of porridge or a smoothie. You can make oatmeal cookies or bars and have them as a healthy snack.
Barley is another whole grain like Oats that is used in many cultures as galactagogues for nursing mothers. Barley also contains a type of dietary fiber beta-glucan that can positively impact milk production. Although there is no human study on this, an animal study indicates that barley is found to increase the hormone Prolactin.
The easiest way to get the benefits of barley is by making porridge or adding them to a soup. Barley water is also a common way to include barley throughout the day. My mom would boil barley in a pan of water, filter the barley and fill this water in a thermos. She even adds fennel or fenugreek seeds while boiling for additional goodness.
However, people with Celiac disease are advised not to consume barley.
Garlic has high anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties. Mothers who have had garlic in their diet observed that the newborns spent more time on the breast due to the favor of garlic in the milk. However, some babies may find the milk too strong and not enjoy it.
In my culture, garlic is a regular part of our diet, if you are consuming garlic for the first time, take it slow, maybe try a clove or two while making sauce, soup or curries.
It is a cultural practice in my home to drink garlic milk during breastfeeding. Freshly peeled garlic cloves in added to the milk and boiled. My mother made me drink garlic milk for my milk to come in, and for sure, my milk came in sooner. Ofcourse, I was also breastfeeding on demand, so I cannot credit my milk coming in for garlic alone.
Garlic is also known to cause allergic reactions, avoid garlic if you have been allergic to hyacinth, tulip, onion, leek, and chives. Also, it is better to add whole garlic ( or organic powder) into pasta sauce, soup in smaller quantities while starting out.
Like garlic, ginger is another staple in Asian diet. My mom hardly cooks anything without the terrific duo – ginger and garlic.
Ginger has incredible anti-inflammatory properties that will promote healing to your postpartum body.
Ginger also adds a distinct flavor to your milk which might be welcomed by your baby. On the other hand, if you notice your baby being fussy or gassy, then avoid ginger from your diet. But, research shows that infants get accustomed to the foods later in their life if they were exposed to that flavor through their mother’s milk.
You can add small amounts to ginger in smoothies, soups, sauce or curries. My favorite way to take ginger is through tea. Boil ginger root with water, add some honey and enjoy sipping throughout the day. Ginger tea comes in handy if I find drinking plain water boring.
7. Brewer’s yeast
Brewers yeast is gaining popularity among nursing mothers as a superfood supplement to shoot up milk supply. Many of the lactation cookies and bars sold in the market also contain this special ingredient – Brewer’s yeast.
While there is no scientific evidence, there is anecdotal evidence to believe that Brewer’s yeast does indeed help boost milk supply. It contains vitamins that help combat baby blue’s, decreases fatigue and depression.
You can get these in the powder from here and add it to smoothies, teas or use it to bake lactation cookies.
It is advised to talk to your doctor or Lactation consultant before adding brewers yeast to your diet if you have recurrent fungal infections, diabetes, taking medication or have any other health concern.
8.Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are little goodies packed with protein and fats. There is so much controversy about whether eating nuts while pregnant or breastfeeding can expose children to nut allergies.
But a recent study found that introducing babies to nuts earlier can reduce the onset of allergies. If you have a history of allergies then it is advised to work with your doctor to incorporate nuts safely.
If you have no problem going nuts for nuts, they are a perfect snack for breastfeeding moms. Easy to munch in while nursing, easy for pack n go. You can have some in trail mix your nursing station and snack on them.
Another great alternative to nuts are seeds like pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds have amazing health benefits.
Probiotics are good micro-organisms that live in your gut. A good bacterial culture in your gut is very important for your over all well being. Taking probiotic rich food while nursing can pass on the benefits to your baby too. If you see your baby have any skin issues like diaper rashes, eczema, cradle cap, increase your probiotic intake to pass it on to your baby.
Probiotic is also suggested for mothers when there babies have colic or acid reflux issues.
Home made yogurts are great source of probiotic bacteria. Other probiotic foods like Kefir,Kimchi,Sauerkraut are all great source of good bacteria the body needs.
Try to incorporate colors in your diet as much as you can. Carrots contain phytoestrogens which makes it a natural galactagogue.
They are also a rich source of beta-carotene which is essential for proper skin and vision development. Whether you juice them, munch them raw or add them to your muffins, this delicious veggie is sure to boost your supply.
You either love Okra or hate it. I love it. I don’t even mind the slimy thing. My mom always said that eating Okra would make me smarter and I guess I fell for it.
Okra is a packed with vitamins A,B,C,E, thiamine, niacin, folate and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc. I love to pan fried Okra, but you can add it to curries as well.
Dates has been traditionally used in Middle Eastern culture as a special food for mothers after child birth. Dates contains tryptophan an amino acid that synthesis Serotonin which aids in lactation. Higher levels of Serotonin is linked to higher levels of Prolactin. Studies have found that Tryptophan level varies in breastmilk throughout the day and increases in the night. Interestingly, studies also show that Prolactin levels also increase during the night
Dates are a great alternative to refined sugars . Some moms get sugar craving during breastfeeding. If that’s you, turn to dates to serve your sweet tooth. I have a hard time eating dried dates, but I take dates through smoothies or with plain milk. I add two or three dates to a glass of milk in a blender and drink ‘dates milk’.
13. Spinach and Kale
Green is always good for your body whether you are breastfeeding or not. But the Folic acid in leafy greens are especially essential for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. As you might already know that folic acid is extremely important for optimal brain development.
Many nursing mothers will notice that their appetite shoots up when they are nursing. No wonder your body needs extra calories because it is working non-stop to nourish another human being.
Eating foods that will keep you full for a longer time will help you save frequent trips to the kitchen. I always add avocados to my morning smoothie and it kept me full till lunch time.
Avocados are also loaded with good Monounsaturated fatty acids that are good for overall body health.
Moringa, a traditional East Indian green is now gaining popularity as a super food in North America. Moringa is the leaves of Drumstick tree which I have seen grown all over in India. It is also called as ‘Miracle tree’ for all its amazing health benefits.
My mom makes Moringa stir fry with coconut flakes , she also makes moringa lentil curry which is absolutely delicious. If possible I would suggest to get frozen moringa leaves and add it to your diet( you can find them in Asian stores).
There are so many benefits of Moringa to highlight. It is rich in iron, calcium, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, wound healing properties and the list goes on. Many mothers have even noticed their milk supply shoot up within 24 hours after taking moringa leaves.
Let’s Wrap Up:
One more tip that I would like to give you is that eat all of these above foods in moderation. I always recommend eating real food over taking them in the form of powders or supplements. Only take supplements after taking to your doctor about your health condition.
In addition to the healthy foods listed above drink water to your thirst. Add smoothies, teas to your diet and stay hydrated.
Breastfeeding is hard work , so support your body by eating healthy food and avoid things that can interfere with your milk supply (smoking, alcohol, stress etc.,)
Did you eat any special food that helped you with milk supply? Please share it with me and other moms 🙂
If you are a breastfeeding mom, you might be interested in
- How To Increase Milk Supply While Pumping (10 Ideas that Work!)
- Power Pumping : The Best Technique to Increase Milk Supply
- 8 Practical Tips To Survive Breastfeeding at Night (without becoming a zombie!)