If you’re breastfeeding but feel you aren’t producing enough milk to keep your baby full and happy, the good news is there are many natural ways to provide your body with what it needs to increase your breastmilk supply.
Foods That Increase Breast Milk
There are several foods and drinks that support the body with nourishment and encouragement to make more milk. Making sure you get enough of these foods in your daily diet can help your body increase production naturally!
- Water – Dehydration is one of the leading causes of low milk production in new mothers. Even a small dehydration level can stop the body from making milk so that it can focus on essential heart and brain functions.If you aren’t drinking several glasses of clean water during the day, chances are you may not be getting enough. Women should be drinking around 2 liters of water a day, and there may be times when you want as much as 2.5 liters to accommodate for what milk production takes away from your body. If you aren’t thirsty or can’t seem to get enough water once you start drinking, consult your doctor.
- Oatmeal – warm oatmeal contains lots of nourishing elements that help you make healthy breast milk in great amounts! Making oatmeal into a breakfast cereal each day can help increase milk production, soothe nerves, and provide you and your baby with lots of needed nourishment, but if you’re not a fan of it for breakfast, it can also be added to baked goods like cookies and enjoyed with a cup of tea at any time of the day.
- Carrots & Orange/Red Capsicum – these vegetables contain high levels of beta carotene, an essential vitamin your body needs to create milk. If your body is in deficit of this vitamin, it may slow down milk production drastically. Beets, sweet potatoes and any other red and orange vegetables are also great sources of beta carotene too, so add as many of these to your meals as you can.
- Nuts – fats, antioxidants, and minerals come together in nuts to help boost milk production while giving you a healthy snack anytime!
- Seeds – many seeds like sesame and pumpkin contain nourishment that can help your body create more milk without taxing its resources.
Herbs & Spices That Increase Breast Milk
There are several herbs and spices known to help increase the production, health, and consistency of breast milk. These include:
- Ginger – most of us associate ginger as being helpful for morning sickness, but fresh ginger root can also help increase milk supply and can be incorporated into meals easily. And dig out those ginger teas from your early pregnancy, because drinking these can help too!
- Fenugreek – probably the most well-known of all foods to help increase breast milk supply, Fenugreek has also been proven effective in clinical research. It can help trigger the ‘hormone precursors’ or special chemicals that are released in order to start the production of certain hormones. The hormones that these precursors bring about are the very same that lead to increased milk production. When these chemicals are present in the body they act like signals letting the mother’s body know that it’s time to make more milk.
- Garlic – without a doubt garlic is a healthy addition to any diet whether you’re breastfeeding or not. It is also reputed to help increase milk supply. While many people believe the taste of garlic in breast milk might help encourage babies to breastfeed longer, some babies can be quite sensitive to it. If your baby doesn’t seem to tolerate it, it’s best to avoid it, but if it works for you both then it’s an easy add to most meals and can be added to meat, seafood, vegetables or hidden in pasta sauces.
- Fennel – may help to increase breast milk naturally in mothers is through its estrogenic properties. As the name implies, the chemicals contained in fennel help make positive changes in the hormones which can lead to greater milk production. Fennel isn’t the only herb that has estrogenic properties though. Anise, coriander, caraway, dill, and cumin all have this same property in different strengths.
If you’re already eating a well-balanced diet, you might be eating some or many of these foods already, but if not and you’re feel your supply isn’t keeping up with your baby’s needs, it certainly can’t hurt either of you to give them a try!
By Kelly Northey
Kelly Northey is the founder of the Yummy Mummy Food Company, helping mums and mums-to-be Australia-wide reduce morning sickness symptoms or increase their milk supply by making the 100% natural, wheat, dairy & preservative free Totally Devoted range of Breastfeeding & Pregnancy Cookies.