Breastfeeding is one of the best gifts you can give your baby. However, breastfeeding also happens to be one of the biggest challenges that mamas must face, and low breast milk supply is reported to be the leading issue that can cause struggling mamas to give up.
If you find yourself dealing with low breast milk supply, the first thing you need to know is that you are not alone. As a mother of two, I know what it feels like to worry about breast milk supply. The thought of being unable to provide my babies with the best nourishment possible is terrifying.
Lucky for us, there are natural foods that can help increase breast milk supply.
I am going to walk you through a list of 15 foods that are known to help increase breast milk supply. I will also talk about the nutrients that can be found in each of these foods so that you can understand exactly how you can benefit by incorporating these foods into your daily diet.
1. Fenugreek Seed
Fenugreek Seed is one of the most popular foods that help boost breast milk production. It is almost always found in breastfeeding and lactation supplements because it is known to be the most remarkable when it comes to how effective it is in providing breastfeeding mamas with the boost that they need.
In fact, breastfeeding mamas tend to notice an increase in their milk supply within a day or two, while others don’t notice any changes until after two weeks.
However, you may notice that your sweat and urine have the tendency to smell like maple syrup. Some say that this is the number one sign that the fenugreek seed is working. It may also cause upset stomach and diarrhea. Nevertheless, the US Food and Drug Administration considers it to be one of the safest supplements for breastfeeding mamas.
Fenugreek seeds are available in capsules, tinctures, and teas which can easily be purchased in health food stores. Mamas are recommended to take at least 3,500 milligrams per day.
2. Fennel Seed
Fennel seed is a natural food that contains “anethole” which is a substance that works like estrogen – the hormone responsible for lactation. Aside from being able to boost lactation, it also aids in digestion, reduces gas, lowers blood sugar levels, and increases your libido.
Traditionally, fennel seeds are soaked in hot water which is then strained to create an herbal drink. However, you can now buy fennel seeds in capsule form which makes it easier to consume. It can also be used as a spice for dishes such as soups, vegetables, and even dips and sauces.
Best results are achieved when fennel seed is taken in conjunction with fenugreek seed.
Keep in mind that fennel seed may cause your baby to feel drowsy and sleepy. Also, when taken in excess, it may decrease your production of breast milk, so make sure to practice moderation.
Oatmeal is a wonderful comfort food that is rich in fiber, iron, calcium, and protein.
Reports indicate that mamas who have low levels of iron tend to experience a decrease in breast milk supply. That said, it makes perfect sense that foods which are rich in iron can help improve lactation. Oatmeal can also help lower cholesterol and promote relaxation.
One bowl of hot oatmeal every day is ideal. However, mamas with gluten sensitivity should consult with a doctor before consuming oats.
4. Brewer’s Yeast
Brewer’s yeast is rich in protein, iron, and B vitamins. It can lower blood sugar levels and helps ward off fatigue and postpartum depression. It can also have a positive impact on your energy and mood.
You can buy brewer’s yeast in tablet or powder form, but keep in mind that there are different kinds of yeast. So, make sure not to get brewer’s yeast confused with baker’s yeast and nutritional yeast.
Possible side effects include gas, diarrhea, and stomach problems.
5. Lactation Cookies
If you love sweet treats, you will simply love lactation cookies!
Preferably made with all-natural ingredients, lactation cookies are a favorite among breastfeeding mamas because of the milk-boosting properties found in its ingredients. Like other baked goodies, you can customize them to suit your taste.
The primary ingredients that make lactation cookies so effective are:
• Brewer’s yeast which helps ward off fatigue and postpartum depression. It also contains iron, protein, B vitamins, and other minerals which help boost lactation;
• Wheat germ which is rich in zinc which aids the immune system and even prevents nipples from becoming cracked and sore;
• Oats which are rich in fiber and iron;
• Flaxseed which contains healthy fats and enzymes which improve the content of breast milk.
There are lots of recipes for lactation cookies to choose from online.
One of the best dietary sources of folate is spinach. These dark leafy green vegetables are also rich in iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals which help keep you and your baby strong. It is also known to help prevent breast cancer which is always a plus for women.
There are many ways you can prepare spinach. You can even add it to a smoothie!
However, you will need to eat spinach in moderation because consuming too much spinach can upset your baby’s stomach.
Garlic is an all-around power food option with antibacterial, antifungal, and antibiotic properties. It strengthens the immune system, fights mastitis, prevents heart disease, and helps ward off thrush in babies.
Aside from the fact that it is effective in increasing breast milk supply, it is also believed to improve the taste of breast milk. When your breast milk tastes better, your baby is going to want to feed for longer. As a result, your body is going to want to keep up with the demand for breast milk by producing even more breast milk.
Garlic can be included in a myriad of dishes. It can be added to soups, used in stir-fry dishes, or even consumed raw.
Apricots are an outstanding source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and fiber. It also contains a lot of phytoestrogens which behaves like the hormone responsible for lactation. It also contains tryptophan which naturally improves prolactin levels.
Dried apricots are the best way to get the most phytoestrogens. You can easily snack on dried apricots while breastfeeding, but you can also add apricots to other milk-boosting treats such as oatmeal and lactation cookies.
Salmon is famous for its high levels of essential fatty acids and Omega-3.
Essential fatty acids are critical in the development of your baby’s brain. Breastfeeding mamas that eat salmon will be glad to know that these essentially fatty acids are passed on in the breast milk.
It is also one of the few naturally occurring sources of Vitamin D.
Salmon is best served steamed, boiled, or grilled. However, the Food and Drug Authority recommend eating no more than two to three servings of salmon each week due to its possible mercury content.
10. Low-Fat Dairy Products
Breast milk is naturally loaded with calcium. As a result, it becomes so easy for breastfeeding mamas to suffer from calcium depletion. Therefore, breastfeeding mamas are often encouraged to take calcium supplements.
Low-fat dairy products are a great source of calcium, protein, B vitamins, and Vitamin D which boosts the development of bones. So, make sure to include yogurt, cheese, milk, and other low-fat dairy products when shopping for food.
Medical experts recommend taking at least three cups of low-fat dairy products every day to maintain proper levels of calcium.
11. Lean Beef
Breastfeeding mamas can always benefit from foods that help boost energy, and lean beef is a great way to keep your energy levels up.
Rich in high-quality protein, iron, and Vitamin B12, lean beef is a surefire way to stay on top of your game and keep your breast milk supply up. It also helps aid in your baby’s proper neurological development.
To get the most nutritional value, opt for grass-fed beef because it contains more Omega-3 fatty acids.
Legumes are a brilliant source of fat, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and folate.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils, lupin beans, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts, and tamarind.
If you are a breastfeeding mama that follows a vegetarian diet, you will love legumes because of the many ways that legumes can be prepared and incorporated into your daily diet. They are also very affordable.
13. Brown Rice
Brown rice is simply unprocessed rice. It provides breastfeeding mamas with a lot of energy to burn throughout the day. It also helps increase serotonin levels in the brain which then stimulates the release prolactin which then boosts the production of breast milk.
If you are a breastfeeding mama that suffers from poor appetite, brown rice could very well be a game-changer for you as can whet the appetite and encourage healthier eating habits.
The easiest way to prepare brown rice is to soak it in water for at least half an hour before cooking as you would regular white rice. It is best served with vegetables, but you are free to incorporate just about anything in the mix.
Quick and easy meals can be a lifesaver for breastfeeding mamas. Eggs are a perfect food choice because they can easily be prepared and yet they provide you with so much sustenance.
Eggs are full of high-quality protein, iron, zinc, lutein, choline, riboflavin, folate, and Vitamins B12 and D – all of which are important in the production of breast milk.
The fact that eggs are also really versatile makes them a favorite among breastfeeding mamas.
15. Sesame Seeds
Breastfeeding mamas who are looking for a non-dairy source of calcium will be delighted to find out that sesame seeds contain high amounts of calcium and healthy polyunsaturated fat.
Sesame seeds are nutritious and delicious. If possible, stick to organic sesame seeds.
There are many ways you can incorporate sesame seeds into your diet. You can make a sesame seed paste that can be spread on crackers or used in hummus. You can even make a sesame seed smoothie and rest assured that you are loading up on all the nutrients that your body needs.
By learning all about the different foods that can help boost lactation and increase your breast milk supply, you should be able to find new and interesting ways to provide your body with all the essential nutrients that your body needs. So, make sure that you see what works best for you. After all, it’s just about eating the right food, getting enough rest, and taking care of your overall health.