Breastfeeding can be a challenge. While we see so much in the news and on social media telling us just how important breastfeeding is, there’s very little honesty about how hard it can be. Many breastfeeding mothers become discouraged and give up when their breast milk production is down. This is why I want to share 10 foods to increase breast milk production!
I’m one of those mothers. I was too afraid to ask for help because I was embarrassed that I wasn’t just naturally producing all of the milk that other people seemed to be. However, when I finally got up the nerve to ask a friend about her breastfeeding journey, I learned that low milk production is rather common, and there’s plenty of ways to increase milk production.
If your baby is properly latching and nursing or pumping as often as humanly possible, but you’re still not seeing the milk production you’d hoped for, there’s an easy fix. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a simple remedy is the addition of galactagogues.
These are foods that will stimulate milk production, and help you build your milk supply. Not surprisingly, the ideal foods are healthy additions to your everyday diet. Keep reading for a few of the ones that have been found to be most beneficial, and easiest to add to your diet.
Fennel is a known galactagogue that will help your body produce more milk because it has qualities that are similar to estrogen. These are known as “phytoestrogens”. There are fennel teas available, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try roasted fennel. Spoiler alert… it’s delicious!
- Green Veggies
Kale and spinach are both great sources of the important vitamins and minerals you need to fuel your body while breastfeeding. Not getting enough vitamins is often a cause of low milk supply.
Leafy greens are also a source of small amounts of phytoestrogen, which may help! If you’re not a fan of leafy greens, try blending them up in a smoothie. An added benefit of leafy greens like kale and spinach is that they’re also anti-inflammatory.
Low iron is often the culprit in keeping your milk production down. Foods like oats are high in iron, so adding a healthy dose of oats each day can almost immediately increase your milk production.
If oatmeal doesn’t sound appetizing, you can hide it in lactation cookies and you won’t even notice it’s there. A heaping portion of oatmeal has many benefits in nourishing new moms and increasing the milk for your baby.
As if you needed an excuse to eat almonds, they’re already so delicious and nutritious. But, they’re also known to help your body produce more milk. Because they provide your body with plenty of nutrients and micronutrients, they benefit both baby and you. I would leave bowls of almonds out in my favorite spots around the house and snack on them all day.
This is another food that has phytoestrogens, so it will also increase milk production. The nuttiness of sesame seeds makes them a perfectly crunchy salad topper. Sesame oil is an especially flavorful addition to a lot of recipes like honey sesame chicken.
Even back in Ancient Egypt, nursing moms would eat these dense little beans to keep their milk supply up. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are packed with protein and fiber. While these make a tasty and crunchy snack, they’re also the main ingredient of hummus.
Tahini (sesame paste) is also found in many hummus recipes, so a hummus snack can help you double up on breast milk boosting foods.
A lot of the foods known to increase milk production are on the saltier side. Apricots are a perfect sweet treat that will add contrast to all the savory foods you’ll be adding to your meals to stimulate milk production. Every now and again when I was craving something sweet, I’d toss some dried apricots in with my almonds so they were right there when I needed them.
Yet another plant-based ingredient that has those magical phytoestrogens. If possible, use the whole flax seeds instead of the ground kind. You can stir them into your yogurt or oatmeal, or even add them to your next batch of muffins.
- Green Papaya
Women all over Asia for this top-secret trick, they’ve been using it for years! This is a centuries-old and incredibly effective way to hike milk production. Cooking green papaya until it’s soft and adding to a smoothie can give a breastfeeding mother almost all of the recommended Vitamin C in just one fruit.
Beets are one of the most underrated veggies out there. They’re not only delicious, but for a breastfeeding mom, the amount of iron packed into one little beet can help increase milk production. They’re semi-sweet, juicing with beets is a great option.
One of my favorites is also beet soup. But I can almost promise that if you try roasted beets in a salad, you’ll be a fan for life.
The Bottom Line
Women vary in what foods yield the most benefits for breastfeeding. However, evidence has shown that some foods are better than others. Other galactagogues that increase breast milk volume include pumpkin, eggs, tofu, chicken, and seafood. By improving your diet, you may see an improvement in the amount of milk you are producing!
About the Author
Caitlin Goodwin MSN, RN, CNM is a Certified Nurse-Midwife, clinical instructor and educator. She has ten years of nursing experience and enjoys blogging about family travel and autism in her free time.