Your diet matters A TON when it comes to keeping your milk supply up.
If you’re trying to increase you milk production you’ll want to stick with lactogenic foods to boost milk supply.
Lactogenic foods work to naturally increase milk supply. Plus they’re super healthy!
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Increase milk supply fast with these 9 super foods
I started each morning with a healthy bowl of oatmeal. If your milk supply truly is low, it might be a result of low iron levels and according to Kelly Mom, oatmeal is a great source of iron.
Oatmeal is super boring, I know, but get creative with fresh seasonal berries and of course, a pinch of brown sugar or almond butter.
You can also make overnight oats which quickly became my go-to breakfast when I returned back to work part time.
Known for quickly increasing lactation, garlic is another great milk booster. Using fresh garlic is always better than the garlic that comes in the cans, but in a pinch don’t feel bad about taking a shortcut.
Garlic was easy for me to incorporate into my diet – I added it to stir fry, eggs, soup and rice. Pretty much everything!
I’m not really a big apricot fan, but when I learned how apricots work to increase prolactin (the hormone responsible for making your body produce milk) I became a fast fan.
I tend to favor eating only fruits/veggies that are in season and since apricots are in season during late spring/summer months I turned to dried apricot fruit instead!
Look for brands that have no added sugar, as most dried fruit has a ton of added sugar.
Many nursing mothers claim brewer’s yeast is responsible for helping to up their supply.
After a little research I also learned that brewer’s yeast does double duty: Studies show that taking the supplement helps to ward off baby blues, thanks to the protein, iron and B vitamins found in this nutritional powerhouse.
You can find brewer’s yeast here.
You can also add a protein powder that is especially designed for breastfeeding mothers to your diet. Just throw a scoop in the smoothie recipe and you’re good to go. I tried out this protein powder with my second baby and oh my gosh it is so yummy.
Did you know postpartum anemia is a fairly common occurrence? Most of the time your body will correct itself post delivery, but in roughly 27% of women postpartum anemia lingers on.
Eating foods rich in iron like spinach work to increase milk supply and contain important vitamins your baby needs to grow strong.
I recommend introducing raw leafy greens in moderation, as sometimes uncooked greens can be associated with gassiness in babies.
I had a large salad one night and poor Emma was up all night with horrible gas pain. It doesn’t affect all babies the same, so just take it easy. After that experience I always cooked my greens and it didn’t seem to bother her.
Related reading: The haakaa breast pump hack that will change your life
Another food that helps to increase milk production and packs quite a punch on the nutritional front, too.
I started opting for quinoa instead of rice a couple years ago in an effort to cut some unnecessary calories and have found a couple go-to recipes that incorporate quinoa.
Almonds are some of my favorite snack foods so I didn’t mind helping myself to some extra servings when I was nursing my daughter.
Almonds contain DHA (omega 3 responsible for brain health), calcium and magnesium and are a known lactogenic powerhouse.
As soon as I mentioned my anxiety over potentially losing my milk supply one of my fellow mama friends mentioned fenugreek.
I hate swallowing pills with a deep passion and wasn’t going to add one more supplement capsule to my mandatory post-natal and d vitamin regime so I looked for another chocolatey recipe, naturally. You can include fenugreek in the mix when you make oat power balls or in a smoothie.
Rich in vitamin A, carrots have lactating production elements. I love have carrots as a mid-day snack, but not unless I have my hummus to go with it!
I also loved sautéed carrots with some spices and a little butter or even brown sugar (shhh!).
Other factors affecting breast milk production
It’s recommended that you incorporate plenty of lactogenic foods into your diet for at least a week before you decide if they’re working or not.
If you’ve tried to increase milk supply naturally via supply enhancing foods and you still feel like you’re not producing enough here are some other items to consider.
Anxiety and breastfeeding
Between labor, delivery and recovery, your hormones are on a roller coaster ride. It’s pretty common for most new moms to experience what’s called baby blues.
My baby blues set in as soon as my family left, which was a couple days after we brought Emma home from the hospital.
I still couldn’t get her to really latch and I was allowing my anxiety to call all the shots. Honestly, this was probably one of the biggest negatives going against me as I tried to successfully breastfeed.
After doing some reading and talking with a lactation consultant I learned that when a baby begins suckling at your breast they are triggering your let down reflex which is brought on by the help of the oxytocin hormone.
Oxytocin is coined the happy hormone because – you guessed it – it only shows up when you’re happy.
So if you’re stressed or ridden with anxiety it’s likely going to affect your let down and subsequent milk production.
I realized I had to take a step back and calm down before each feeding session so I could have a clear head to begin with.
Consider recharging with these tips:
- Take an epsom salt bath. I order the 19 pound bag to have on hand all the time!
- Cut back on caffeine
- Eat a lot of fruits, veggies and minimally processed foods
- Try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. This really works! As an overly anxious person after learning about this a few years ago I’ve used this many, many times to calm down.
Lack of sleep and breastfeeding
It’s no secret lack of sleep affects your mood and your body’s overall performance, but would you be surprise to find out it also affects your milk supply?
I guess it makes sense, your body needs energy to work correctly and you recharge your batteries at night when you rest, so it stands to reason that extreme lack of sleep could derail your milk production.
Yes, you will likely be in full zombie mode in the weeks following your baby’s arrival but it’s important to force yourself to rest.
Here are some tips to sneak in some extra shut eye:
- Breastfeed in bed with your feet propped up to recharge during each feeding session.
- Nap when your baby naps. This is so important! You’ll be drained from the night before and as soon as your baby falls asleep you need to catch some zzzz’s too.
- Don’t turn away family/friends offering to come hold your baby while you nap. You need all the rest you can get. Remember, you’re recovering from delivering a baby, too!
- Ignore chores. Yes, your house might be a mess, but I promise no one is judging you for a messy house with a newborn!
Not getting enough calories
Yes, I know – you’re desperate to return to your pre-baby body pretty much five minutes after delivery but not getting sufficient calories while breastfeeding can really hinder your supply.
Research shows you need an extra 300-500 calories per day while nursing. These don’t need to be junk calories, though – your body needs fuel to help feed a hungry baby!
But guess what? If you eat healthy (and if you’re actively trying to eat the foods listed above you are eating very healthy) and focus on slowly recovering your body you will lose the weight.
On average a breastfeeding mother burns about 300-500 calories a day, so don’t sweat it.
Visit a lactation consultant
I mentioned above that a lactation consultant visited me in the hospital and is pretty much the only reason I could get E to nurse during my hospital stay.
I also decided to go visit the lactation consultant after I returned home, too, and would recommend that to you if you’re concerned.
If you weren’t visited by a lactation consultant in the hospital here’s a directory of the International lactation consultant association.
Most insurance companies cover at least a couple lactation visits so don’t shy away due to cost.
Related breastfeeding and milk supply articles:
All your questions answered about reusing expressed breastmilk