Photo by Megan Watson
Many moms struggle with an adequate diet to increase breast milk supply. There’s no doubt that as a new mom eating a healthy diet will help you lose the pregnancy weight, but perhaps an even better reason to routinely eat a variety of healthy foods is to aid in the quality of the breast milk you are feeding your newborn. Throughout pregnancy your body has been gearing up to make nature’s perfect baby food. But if your diet is inadequate, your body will draw from its own stores leaving you feeling tired, weak and with little energy. This is not good, especially if you are already struggling to adjust to your newborn’s sleep habits (or lack thereof!). You need a diet to increase breast milk supply in order to stay healthy, awake and alert. By adding some delicious and extremely nutritious foods to your diet, you can actually increase breast milk supply and the quality of milk you are feeding your baby. A diet rich in the following foods and vital nutrients can help you feel comfortable knowing you and your baby are getting exactly what you need.
1. OATMEAL. Starting your day off with a bowl of oatmeal is a great idea when you are trying to increase breast milk supply. Oatmeal contains iron and studies have shown that maternal anemia (low iron levels) can cause a decrease in milk supply. Other great sources of iron first thing in the morning are granola and oat bran. Try sprinkling some granola in your yogurt later in the day for a delicious snack!
2. DAIRY. Speaking of yogurt, dairy products are a very important part of your healthy breastfeeding diet. Feeding your baby is taking from your calcium supply to help his/her bones develop, so you need to eat enough calcium to replenish the supply and maintain lactation. Whether you prefer cheese, milk or yogurt, try to have at least three servings of dairy each day. A cup of milk with your oatmeal at breakfast is a great start.
3. BLUEBERRIES. Go ahead and toss a hand full of blueberries into your yogurt or oatmeal! Breastfeeding moms can benefit from the antioxidants in the berries as well as the extra boost of vitamins and minerals that aid in lactation. Aim for two servings of berries or fruit each day to help increase your milk supply.
4. EGGS. Having enough protein in your diet is as important as ever now that you are breastfeeding full time and trying to improve the quantity and quality of your milk. Eggs are an excellent way to help meet your body’s demands for protein. Look for DHA-fortified eggs to boost the level of this essential fatty acid in your breast milk. Along with increasing the quality of your milk supply, DHA has also been shown to increase mood and help with postpartum depression.
LUNCH & DINNER
1. LEAFY GREENS. As mentioned, getting enough iron in your diet is so important to maintain lactation. Having a salad loaded with veggies like spinach, Swiss chard and broccoli at lunch time is an additional way to get iron as well as other vital nutrients such as calcium and vitamin A into your diet. It’s also a low-calorie option when you’re trying to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. For an added kick of iron, throw in some legumes like black beans, kidney beans or chickpeas.
2. GINGER. Remember ginger from your first trimester when you were dealing with morning sickness? Well, it’s back and this time it’s going to help you increase your lactation. Ginger is known to increase the let-down reflex and can be a delicious addition to many foods. Look for recipes that contain natural ginger. Ginger teas and ginger ales made with natural ginger are excellent ways to add ginger to your diet.
3. WHOLE GRAINS. Be sure to order your sandwiches on whole grain breads as eating whole grains may increase your milk supply. A whole grain bun with sesame seeds would be an added bonus as sesame seeds are a galactagogue food too. Whole grains have properties that support the hormones responsible for creating breast milk. Along with whole grain breads, barley and brown rice are also fantastic whole grain sources.
4. GARLIC. Go ahead and add some extra garlic to that recipe tonight. Doing so will increase your milk supply. Garlic has been used by lactating mothers for years to increase their milk supply. Besides adding it to food, you can also opt for garlic pills that don’t have the aftertaste or bad breath effect.
5. LEAN BEEF. Rich in iron, protein, and vitamin B-12, all essential for you and your newborn baby, lean beef is a great way to keep up with the demands of feeding a newborn baby. Along with increasing your milk supply, you will also get an added boost of energy from all punch of nutrients.
6. SALMON. The DHA mentioned in the eggs, is also plentiful in salmon too. DHA is crucial to aid in the development of your baby’s nervous system so adding it to your diet will result in richer, healthier milk for your baby.
1. CARROTS. Beta-carotene is in high demand for lactating mothers so snacking on some carrots is an excellent source of replenishment. Other great sources of beta-carotene are dried apricots and cantaloupe, also great snacks.
2. NUTS. Not all nuts are created equal when it comes to increasing breast milk supply. The best choices for giving your lactation a boost are cashews, macadamia nuts and almonds. They are also rich in good fats for you and your baby.
3. WATER. Ok, so there is no nutritional value to H20, but it should definitely be a vital part of your daily diet. In fact, it is one of the most essential factors in maintaining an adequate milk supply. Try to always keep a water bottle with you whenever you nurse. You may find that you get increasingly thirsty as your baby nurses. Be sure to avoid alcohol and caffeine. Keep in mind that caffeine in your supply of breast milk could bother your baby’s sleep schedule.
When you are breastfeeding, maintaining a diet rich in iron, protein and calcium will ensure that you and your baby are getting the supply of nutrients needed. The healthy foods listed above can greatly increase your milk supply. And, on the plus side, eating a healthy diet full of variety will expose your newborn to a variety of tastes which may help down the road when you are introducing solid foods. We hope this ultimate diet to increase breast milk supply helps you mamas!
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