Plenty of mums struggle with breastmilk supply issues. According to a study by paediatrician Marianne Neifert, “as many as 5% of women may have primary insufficient lactation because of anatomic breast variations or medical illness that make them unable to produce a full milk supply despite heroic efforts.” But what if there are natural ingredients that boost supply of breast milk — effectively and effortlessly?
Sadly, not a lot of research has been made on the kinds of food that can help increase breastmilk supply. But we can learn from previous generations of breastfeeding mums, who have sworn by certain foods that have reportedly helped increase their breastmilk supply.
Factors such as premature birth, maternal obesity, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure and poorly controlled insulin-dependent diabetes can also affect milk production.
Natural Ingredients That Boost Supply Of Breast Milk: 30 Awesome Foods To Include In Your Diet
If you’re looking to increase your breast milk supply, then check out these foods below:
Oatmeal is great for regulating our cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and could also help with lactation. According to Just Mommies, oatmeal is a comfort food and can also help mothers relax and produce oxytocin — a vital hormone for milk production.
According to many mothers, just one large bowl of oats each morning and you can see the effects.
Garlic affects the taste and smell of your breastmilk, and according to a study, babies tend to latch on for longer after their mothers consume garlic. It also could have chemical compounds that help in lactation.
*Only use them if you do not suffer from any adverse reactions towards it.
3. Green leafy vegetables
Breastfeeding can be demanding on your body — feeding another human means that you’ll need more nutrition yourself. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, mustard greens, kale, and fenugreek leaves are great sources of vitamins and minerals.
In addition, dark leafy greens contain phytoestrogens. They have chemicals similar to estrogen that could promote breast tissue health and lactation.
Natural Ingredients That Boost Supply Of Breast Milk: insufficient milk production is a common cause of worry for many mums and they stop partially / entirely within the first few months.
4. Fenugreek seeds
A common herb used to increase milk production, fenugreek seeds have been used to increase milk production for centuries. Like green leafy vegetables, fenugreek seeds contain phytoestrogens.
According to Breastfeeding Online, it only takes 24 to 72 hours before fenugreek increases a nursing mother’s milk supply.
According to a study from the University of the Philippines’ Department of Paediatrics, mothers of preterm babies who consumed moringa capsules found that their milk production increased by 152 to 176%. That’s great news for mothers struggling with low milk supply issues.
Moringa, a vegetable high in iron and calcium, are thought to aid in milk production. As a result, incorporating this vegetable into your lunch or breakfast meals can help ensure that you’re lactating adequately. To reap the benefits of moringa, you can use fresh leaves to garnish your food, or you can take capsules or drink moringa tea.
Plenty of us overlook something as simple as staying hydrated. Drinking enough (or not enough) water can make a huge difference to your milk supply, so make sure that you drink a glass of water before and after feeding your baby.
Water is one of the most important factors to keep your body from being dehydrated. Natural ingredients that boost the supply of breast milk: water is extremely essential but the key here is to drink a sufficient amount. | Source: Pixabay
The monounsaturated fats found in certain nuts (e.g. almonds, macadamia nuts) can make your milk richer. Nuts are rich in vitamins, minerals, and calories, making them a great source of nutrients.
8. Green Papaya
If you love Thai food then you probably would dig this one.
Green papaya is very popular in promoting or increasing the flow of a mother’s milk across Asia. This is because consumption increases oxytocin produced, which leads to an increase in the production of milk.
However, do note that for pregnant mummies especially, do avoid unripe papaya as they contain papain that could induce labour.
It would be ideal to boil the papaya before or consume them as a salad. Generally, do keep a balanced diet and eat these in moderation.
A superfood, as we all know. Salmon’s great for an extra boost for breastmilk naturally as it contains loads of omega-3s and many essential fatty acids. Besides, being rich in DHA — one of the most important components of breast milk — can help with your child’s brain development.
Opt for steamed, boiled or even grilled salmon. A word of caution though, avoid overconsumption of salmon as they may contain traces of accumulated mercury that could be toxic. Salmon is definitely one of the natural ingredients that boost the supply of breast milk.
Barley is one of the many lactogenic beverages out there. From barley water to eating it as a hot grain or porridge, it is a great option to increase and improve your breast milk supply. It helps you to stay hydrated as well.
Hilary Jacobson, author of “Mother Foods”, even suggests adding fennel seed or fenugreek if desired.
It’s considered a must-have food for nursing mothers as it helps to stimulate the hormones essential for lactation. Besides, it is a high-fibre food that’s rich in Vitamin A and K.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels
12. Brown Rice
When it comes to brown rice, its nutritional properties are no stranger to us. Even for non-pregnant mums, they are very nourishing.
Brown rice has been proven to enhance breast milk production, according to a research paper published in the World Journal of Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences. It contains hormone stimulants that boost the production of breast milk in nursing mums.
Not only that, they contain a chemical that helps to prevent postnatal depression. Helping to ensure that mums are in a good mood and able to produce more breast milk? Yes, we’ll take that.
13. Red dates
Well, surely this doesn’t come as a surprise — red dates are present in many confinement foods, almost like a must-have when one speaks of confinement.
Rich in Tryptophan, a kind of amino acid, it “supports the chemistry of lactation” and helps to maintain a healthy level of prolactin — needed for milk production — in nursing mothers.
Fuss-free and packed with loads of nutrition, apricots are a great addition to your nursing period. They are high in Vitamin A, C, potassium and calcium and are thought to help with milk production.
That being said, moderation is key as overconsumption could lead to dehydration, according to Byram Healthcare.
15. Bottle Gourd
Natural ingredients that boost supply of breast milk: bottle gourd is a good option that could be taken in the form of curries as well.
Packed with hydrating properties, the bottle gourd is a vegetable that will help you restore your milk supply in no time.
Besides being rich in vitamins and minerals, it also aids digestion. You could look towards a bottle gourd smoothie for increased comfort.
16. Lean meat and poultry
Iron is abundant in lean beef, pork, lamb, and poultry. Filling up on these foods may be beneficial if getting enough of the mineral promotes a more robust supply. However, there is no direct evidence or research linking meat consumption to higher milk production.
17. Protein-rich foods
Consumption of chicken, eggs, tofu, and seafood has been linked to an increase in milk volume. Furthermore, eating protein-rich foods can help you feel fuller between meals.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans or Ceci (chi-chi) beans, are a popular legume in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Breastfeeding mothers have been eating chickpeas to produce more breast milk since ancient Egypt.
Chickpeas are a high-protein, nutritious food. They also contain plant estrogens, which may account for their use as a galactagogue. Chickpeas can be added to pasta or salads. Hummus, a tasty spread or dip made from chickpeas, is yet another way to enjoy this nutritious legume.
Photo by R Khalil on Pexels
19. Sesame Seeds
Breastfeeding mothers use sesame seeds, which are high in calcium and have estrogen-like plant properties, to produce more breast milk. Sesame seeds can be eaten on their own, as an ingredient in recipes, as a salad topping, or as part of a trail mix with other seeds, nuts, and dried fruit.
Beets are a high-nutritional-value vegetable that is high in fibre and minerals. It is thought that, in addition to increasing milk production, beets help to improve breast milk by providing blood purification properties that will benefit your baby.
Lentils are a popular ingredient all over the world due to their high mineral, vitamin, and protein content. Add dietary fibre (found in some types of lentils) to this already potent combination, and you have an ingredient that is not only healthy in general, but also helps significantly increase breast milk production.
Watermelon is high in fructose, fibre, and water. It keeps you hydrated, provides essential minerals to your body, and aids in the maintenance or increase of your breast milk supply. Staying hydrated by drinking water and eating foods high in water content, such as watermelon, can help lactation-challenged mothers.
23. Green Tea
Green tea is high in antioxidants and minerals, which aid in relaxation. A glass of green tea every day will help to cleanse your system. It also improves blood circulation and cholesterol levels, and it is thought to significantly increase breast milk supply in some countries.
24. Fresh Ginger Root
Fresh ginger is not only a nutritious addition to your diet, but it can also boost breast milk production2 and aid in the let-down reflex.
You can easily incorporate fresh, raw ginger into your cooking. You can also incorporate ginger into your daily routine by drinking ginger ale made from real ginger or boiling raw ginger and making tea. While fresh ginger is considered safe, you should not take ginger supplements without first consulting with your doctor.
25. Brewer’s Yeast
Brewer’s yeast is a high-quality nutritional supplement that contains B vitamins, iron, protein, chromium, selenium, and other trace elements. Breastfeeding mothers use it to not only make more breast milk, but it may also give you more energy, improve your mood, and help you get rid of the baby blues. Brewer’s yeast is available in tablet or powder form.
Grapefruit is regarded as a mega fruit in some parts of the world. It is high in vitamin C and vitamin A, as well as citric acid, fructose, and essential dietary fibres. This fruit is regarded as one of the healthiest additions to anyone’s diet, particularly for nursing mothers looking to improve lactation.
Image source: iStock
Milk is naturally high in folic acid, calcium, and healthy fats, which not only aids in milk production but also ensures that your baby’s milk is nutritionally balanced. Drink a glass of milk twice a day to ensure an increase in breast milk production.
Alfalfa is a legume, and it contains estrogenic isoflavonoids. According to anecdotal evidence, alfalfa may increase breast milk supply. Alfalfa sprouts can be added to salads and soups to make them part of your breastfeeding diet. After consulting your healthcare provider, you may also try alfalfa tea or organic alfalfa supplements.
29. Milk Thistle
This plant has estrogenic properties. It raises prolactin levels and increases the supply of breast milk when consumed on a regular basis. Milk thistle can be taken as a supplement or as a tea. Its seeds are delicious in salads, curries, and vegetable dishes.
30. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds are proven to aid digestion, ease constipation, acidity, and bloating, and aid in lactation. They are also high in vitamins and calcium. To reap the benefits, toss these seeds into salads or soak them in water overnight and drink the water.
Some foods you may want to avoid when breastfeeding
It’s one thing to be aware of all the foods that may aid in milk production, but it’s also important to be aware of the short list of ant lactogenic foods—plants, herbs, and medications that can reduce milk supply.
You may have been told that drinking a beer before nursing will help you relax, bring your milk in, and improve the quality and quantity of your milk. However, alcohol can block the release of oxytocin, which results in a decrease in the number of letdowns a nursing mother will have in a session.
Don’t worry, a glass of wine every now and then won’t deplete your supply. Be warned against chronic, long-term alcohol consumption or even one night of heavy drinking, which has been known to result in a rapid drop in supply.
2. Sage, parsley, peppermint and menthol
You should have to consume large amounts of any of these herbs to see an effect on your milk supply, but keep in mind that sage is widely used in roasts and holiday meals, parley is widely used in salads like tabbouleh, and peppermint is commonly found in teas, gums, and candies.
Chasteberry, which is available as a supplement, may sound familiar— it’s a popular treatment for PMS symptoms, endometriosis, and menopause. It is also frequently recommended to breastfeeding mothers who are experiencing painful swelling and engorgement.
However, chasteberry acts directly on the pituitary glands, inhibiting prolactin secretion. When prolactin levels fall, milk supply usually falls with it.
Turmeric, on the other hand, is a herb that can help with engorgement inflammation without interfering with breastfeeding. You could also use plain old cabbage leaves.
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Here are some tips:
- Breastfeed as soon as possible. It is essential that your baby is fed properly. He will have difficulty feeding if he is unable to latch on to the nipple or is in the incorrect position.
Improper feeding can also be caused by anatomical issues. It is critical to remove the milk from the breast while feeding in order to ensure adequate breast milk production. If your baby is incapable of doing so, you should express the milk.
- Breastfeed more often. Frequent nursing sessions stimulate your body to produce more milk. Nursing frequently will result in the milk being removed from the breast properly. You should nurse your child for however long he wants to and at a frequency of 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Pump between feedings. Warming up your breasts before pumping could put you at greater ease. The most effective way to ensure that the breast increases milk production is to stimulate the milk from the breast.
- Breastfeed on both sides. It could also result in a higher fat content in the milk.
- Avoid the use of a pacifier. Let your baby get used to comforting himself with your breast. It will help stimulate milk production. Pacifiers and bottles should be avoided as much as possible as they can cause nipple confusion. This means that if your baby is used to sucking from a bottle, he may struggle to latch on to your breast. You must only feed your baby breast milk and avoid all other foods until he is 6 months old.
- Be alert to feeding problems. If your baby tends to latch on to one side more (and often), your breast milk will start to decrease. You can try pumping the other breast to relieve pressure until your baby begins taking more at each feeding.
- Do not introduce solids to your baby until he or she is six months old or developmentally ready. Breastfeed for as long as you and your baby want.
- Wear an appropriate nursing bra because wearing a tight bra can compress the breast and reduce milk flow. Prolonged milk flow obstruction may increase the risk of clogged ducts and infection.
- Massage your breasts to help clear clogged ducts and improve blood circulation. It may help to increase breast milk supply and flow.
- As much as possible, don’t skip a breastfeeding session.
- Don’t hesitate to call a local lactation counsellor for help.
- You may want to have your thyroid level checked, just in case. A low thyroid level is known to reduce milk supply.
- Use medications with caution (even normal cold remedies from the pharmacy could affect your breast milk supply)
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine.
Yes mums, we know that it’s inevitable to worry about low milk supply. But don’t fret too much as insufficient breast milk production is rare.
In fact, most women make one-third more breast milk than their babies typically drink.
As far as there are many foods or natural ingredients that boost supply of breast milk, the problem could lie in the delivery of your breast milk rather than the actual milk production itself.
If you’re still concerned, it is always best advised to visit a lactation consultant, just to be on the safe side.
Image source: iStock
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