Food To Boost Milk Supply For Breast Feeding Mothers
If you are breastfeeding a baby, whether exclusively or in combination with formula, then getting enough nourishment yourself is really important. Keeping your energy levels up, eating nutrient dense foods, and also staying hydrated will help you to produce the milk your baby needs (as well as sleep, but that’s another blog post entirely!). So this weeks blog post is all about foods that promote milk production or flow.
So the best way to increase your milk supply is to nurse, nurse, nurse. Your baby feeding is better than any other method of helping your body make more milk - the stimulation of the nerves with breastfeeding, as well as the removal of milk, signal to your body to ramp up breast milk production. If you are doing all the nursing you can and feel your supply still needs a boost, you could think about adding these galactagogues (that’s just the fancy name for a substance that promotes milk production or flow) to your diet to help increase your supply. I’ll also be sharing some simple recipes in my next blog post using some of these foods (including smoothies, lactation cookies and energy balls), so watch out for that next week too.
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Oats
Eating oats can help to increase milk supply, as well as being a brilliant form of slow release energy. Saponins, which oats are full of, are antibiotic and anti-inflammatory, supporting the immune system. They also impact the milk making hormones produced by the pituitary gland. So having a bowl of porridge, granola or bircher muesli for breakfast, snacking on some flapjack or a few Hobnobs, or adding oats to a smoothie (check out my recipes next week) are great ways to add oats to your diet.
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Seeds
Seeds are a nutritional gift! They are the very beginning of life for every plant on earth. They provide a concentrated source of all the nutrients found in the mature plant as well as the nutrients needed to grow the tiny seed into a beautiful blooming plant. Seeds are high in protein and essential minerals such as iron, zinc, and calcium, as well as healthy fats and fibre too - all brilliant for breast feeding mamas. Like nuts, seeds are not clinically proven to have lactogenic properties, but they have been used for centuries to help breastfeeding mothers thanks to their high vitamin and mineral content. Every seed has its unique nutritional makeup, so choose a variety including sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax and sesame seeds. You can also add seed oils, for example flax seed oil to your diet (flax seeds are an excellent vegan source of omega-3 fatty acids).
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Nuts
High in proteins and essential fatty acids, nuts are the perfect compliment to any breat feeding mothers diet. The amino acids in nuts are building blocks for serotonin, which is a necessary neurotransmitter for lactation. Nuts have been used in traditional ayurvedic medicine for generations, especially almonds, which are not only written about extensively in ayurvedic literature but are one of the most widely used lactogenic foods in the world. The best nuts for improving milk production are almonds, so you could snack on a handful of raw nuts, drink almond milk or use in a smoothie, or eating nut or almond butter on toast, or maybe even some marzipan if you’re looking for a sweet treat.
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Brewer’s Yeast
Many mothers have heard that drinking a bottle of beer may help with milk supply! This old wives’ tale may have some basis in fact. Sometimes called nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast (you can buy it places like Holland & Barrett in powder form) contains phytoestrogens – which may be the root of its success as a galactagogue — as well as protein and iron. Women taking nutritional yeast often say they have more energy and feel happier. You can find brewer’s yeast supplements in health food stores. (In addition, the hops in beer are thought to improve milk ejection — so your grandma might be right in recommending a drink to help with breastfeeding!)
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Alfalfa
Alfalfa leaf is an herb with many beneficial vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Alfalfa is estrogenic, and promotes pituitary function, which is thought to be the way it works for increasing breastmilk supply. Consider adding alfalfa sprouts or seeds to your salad, or on a sandwich. Alfalfa also comes as a supplement in capsule form.
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Garlic
Cultures all over the world use garlic for its medicinal properties as well as its culinary flavoring. Used in moderation, garlic may have a lactogenic effect — but this may be because babies like the flavor. One study found that babies nursed more often and took more milk when mothers took a garlic supplement before nursing. So, the increased breast stimulation helped to increase milk supply. Go ahead and enjoy a garlicky meal. If you don’t especially like the flavor, consider taking garlic in capsule form.
Breastmilk Making Food : Sesame Seeds
High in calcium, sesame seeds are one of the best seeds for increasing milk supply. Look for large black sesame seeds or husked, light-colored seeds. Eating the seeds crushed is important, as seeds still in their husk simply pass through the digestive tract. Try tahini — a sesame seed paste – in hummus or salad dressing, in a smoothie, or as a spread on crackers or to dip vegetables into.
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Fennel
Whether eaten as a vegetable or seed, the phytoestrogens in fennel are likely the source of its milk-making properties. Taken in too high a dosage, however, fennel seeds have to opposite effect of decreasing supply, so they should be used with caution. An added benefit is that improves digestion and reduces gas. Fennel seeds made into a tea and drunk by the mother can mitigate colic symptoms in baby. Roasting sliced fennel with halved cherry tomatos and black olives, and then tossing with pasta and extra virgin olive oil (add parmesan on top if you like, I do) is an easy, filling and delicious dinner. Yum! You can also simply pop a few fennel seeds into your mouth and chew after a meal as a mouth refresher.
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Fenugreek
Fenugreek seed is a common herb for increasing milk production. Used around the world in cooking and baking, fenugreek is a good source of protein, iron, vitamin C and more. Taken in tea or in capsule form, this herb generally increases milk supply within a few days. There are some cautions — if you are prone to asthma or allergies, use fenugreek with caution. If you have low thyroid hormone levels, are hypoglycemic, or are taking blood thinners, you may want to avoid fenugreek.
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Herbal Teas
You can find lactation teas that have been created especially for increasing milk supply, in ready made teabags or as blends of loose herbs, flowers and tea. These are usually combinations of different galactagogues that you use according to package instructions. ngredients might include anise seed (thought to ‘bring down the milk’ in ancient Greece), black tea, fenugreek, alfalfa, blessed thistle, red raspberry leaf, marshmallow root, goat’s rue, and more. The best teas are made from fresh and organic ingredients.
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Lactation Cookies
There are plenty of lactation cookie recipe around online, and I’ll ve sharing a highly recommended one with you in next weeks blog post. Not only are the cookies completely and utterly delicious (be careful that your partner doesn’t eat them all before you do – and no, they won’t start lactating!) but a whopping 90% of members of one online forum who consumed the lactation cookies reported that it increased their supply. Start with just a few cookies and increase if need be, as you don’t want to be dealing with oversupply issues! Ideally get someone else to make these for you, and bring them round to you (they can also make you a cuppa and do your washing up while they are there) - make serious hints if you need to!!
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Water
Keeping hydrated is SO very important when you are breastfeeding. Drinking water and juices can boost lactation, and can increase the total milk volume per feed. Make sure you have at least a pint of water to hand when you sit down to feet, you’ll even feel yourself getting thirsty through a long feed - it can be that instant. You need to replace the fluids lost in the feeding. But any liquid is good, and if someone will bring you a hot cuppa all the better!
Breastmilk Boosting Food : Smoothies
You can buy sachets of smoothie mixes from the brilliant Boo-b smoothies to easily make a smoothie packed full of breast milking enhancing ingredients. A brilliant mama who set up this small online business after her own struggles with breastfeeding in 2015. I’m also going to give you some brilliant recipes for smoothies in my blog post next week - so check back here or on my For Modern Mothers Facebook page.
While you’re working on trying to increase your milk supply, it’s also a good idea to get in touch with a local breast feeding support group. In York we are SO lucky to have the amazing Treasure Chest group - find there here http://www.treasurechest.org.uk/ I ALWAYS make sure that the lovely pregnant folk who come along to my Hypnobirthing & Birth Preparation courses, and my Pregnancy Yoga classes know about them - their support is simply invaluable.
Treasure Chest also have a brilliantly supportive Facebook group too - find that here - https://www.facebook.com/groups/treasurechestyork/
You can also contact La Leche League a national organisation - https://www.laleche.org.uk/
If you are looking for the expertise of a qualified lactation consultant then head here - http://www.lcgb.org/
Milk Boosting Recipes
I’ll also be sharing some simple recipes in my next blog post right here next week, using some of these foods (smoothies, lactation cookies and energy balls), so watch out for that next week too. As always let me know how you get on, and if you have any ideas to share of your own too.