What Foods Can You Eat to Increase Breast Milk Supply?
Eating a healthy diet is always important. But as a new mum, and a breastfeeding mum, your diet and nutrition is especially important. If you are worried about your breastmilk supply, or your baby’s feeding, always speak to a healthcare professional first.
Breastfeeding is about supply and demand, so, provided your baby has a strong latch and your feeding regularly, you should have no issues with the amount of breastmilk you are producing. But, what if you want to build up your supply, to have some extra bottles in the freezer, or in preparation for a return or work?
Foods that are thought to help increase your breast milk supply are known as ‘lactogenic’ foods. Eating healthy amounts of the following food types – as part of a balanced diet – could help keep the milk flowing:
- Oats. Oats have long been relied on by mothers to increase their supply. Although there are no studies to support this, Oats are high in iron, and a depletion of iron are known to inhibit milk supply. Good enough reason to consider starting the day with a filling bowl of Vitimum porridge or make a smoothie with oat milk.
- Fenugreek. Fengugreek is often refered to as potent galactagogues, as they contain estrogen-like compounds that are thought to enhance milk flow. One small study did find that women who drank fenugreek tea three times a day produced significantly more milk compared to those who didn’t. However, there's no widespread evidence to suggest that fenugreek works to increase breast milk supply, so some paediatricians don't recommend fenugreek. Also, some Mothers who have consumed fenugreek report that it seems to make their babies gassier. Fenugreek can also exacerbate asthma, so should be used with caution in asthmatics.
- Nuts and seeds. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds (to name just a few) are also thought to help increase milk supply. You can add some nuts and seeds to your muesli or porridge, eat a small handful of nuts as an afternoon snack or add some to a smoothie.
- Fennel seeds. Another traditional milk booster, which you will often find in lactation cookies and teas. Like fenugreek, fennel seeds contain estrogen-like compounds that are thought to enhance milk supply. A handful of small studies have linked fennel seed consumption to greater milk volume. However, large-scale research around their supposed breastfeeding benefits is lacking.
- Vegetables. Veggies are always an essential part of a healthy balanced diet, but mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, potatoes and lettuce – in particular – are believed to be good lactogenic foods that can help increase your milk supply.
- Fruit. Peaches, nectarines, apricots and cherries not only taste great, they may also help you produce more breast milk.
- Most of all - Plenty of liquids. Dehydration can affect your milk supply, so drink enough liquids – at least six to eight glasses of water a day – to stay hydrated. It’s also a great idea to have a glass of water (with a straw) close at hand whenever you are breastfeeding.