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While there is no magic food that will make you produce more breast milk, you can add certain foods to your diet for a boost. Before we dive in, we want to remind you to establish a healthy breastfeeding foundation during the first few weeks. The more you empty your breasts, whether it be by baby or a pump, the more your body will make.
You might think you have a low breast milk supply but as long as your baby is alert, active, and regularly filling and wetting diapers, your supply is fine! It could take a few days after delivery for your milk to come in. When your baby is born, their stomach is the size of a pea or marble and can drink about 1 tablespoon at a time. This means it's okay if you're only producing a small amount of colostrum.
Before we dive in, we need to explain what a galactagogue is. The word “galactagogues” comes from the Greek “galacta,” meaning milk. To be clear, a galactagogue won’t boost your milk supply on its own, especially if you aren’t nursing or pumping regularly, but some women find them helpful (I know I did!).
Foods that Increase Breast Milk Supply
If you are dehydrated, you make less milk. Breastfeeding moms need about a gallon of water a day. Keep a bottle of water with you and keep water where you usually nurse. We love this water bottle from Bink. It's the first water tracking bottle specifically designed for pregnancy and breastfeeding water needs. Find it here.
2. Blessed Thistle or Fenugreek
You can find these in a few different forms.
You can take them in a capsule form. Legendairy Milk's Liquid Gold contains a blend of organic ingredients designed to increase breast milk production.
Herbal tea drinkers can steep 1 teaspoon of whole fenugreek seeds in a cup of boiling water for about 15 minutes and enjoy two or three times a day.
Note that before you use these, know that herbal supplements aren’t regulated in the same way that prescription drugs are. Check with your doctor or lactation consultant before taking any herbal remedy.
3. Whole Grains
Whole grains are very nutritious for breastfeeding moms. They're also thought to have properties that support the hormones responsible for making breast milk. The most common grain is old fashioned oats. You can also try barley, whole grain brown rice, oatmeal cookies, or other foods made from whole grains. Get our favorite overnight oats recipe here.
4. Dark Green Vegetables
Dark leafy green vegetables such as alfalfa, lettuce, kale, spinach, and broccoli are full of nutrients, especially calcium. They also contain phytoestrogens that may have a positive effect on breast milk production.
Fennel is probably a spice that came in your spice rack that you've never used before. Fennel is a plant from the Mediterranean and can add flavor to many different foods. It is also a vegetable that can be cooked or eaten raw. The bulb, stalk, and leaves of the fennel plant are edible, and you can add them to soups or stews. The plant estrogens found in fennel may help make more breast milk.
You probably never would have thought about this one. Even though garlic has a strong odor that does go into breast milk, it seems that some infants like the taste. Studies show that garlic-flavored milk may help keep breastfed babies nursing longer. On the other hand, some children may not tolerate garlic very well. If your child shows signs of a food sensitivity after you eat garlic, you may want to try to avoid the garlic for a while. Follow Baby's lead.
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans or Ceci (chi-chi) beans, are a legume used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Breastfeeding women have been eating chickpeas to make more breast milk since the ancient Egyptian times. Chickpeas are a nutritious food that is high in protein and contain plant estrogens that may be responsible for its use as a galactagogue. Add chickpeas to pasta or salads or enjoy hummus, a dip made from chickpeas.
8. Lactation Cookies
Variations can include brownies, drink mixes, bars, and energy bites. They contain galactogogues which are considered to help breastfeeding mothers increase their breast milk supply. Lactation cookies tend to have flaxseed, oats, and brewer’s yeast as main ingredients. While these haven’t been proven to increase milk supply, they are proven to have a load of nutrition that is great for breastfeeding mommas like yourself. Get Café Baby's fresh-baked lactation cookies here.
9. Sesame Seeds
High in calcium and estrogen-like plant properties, breastfeeding moms use sesame seeds to make more breast milk. You can eat sesame seeds alone, as an ingredient in recipes, as a topping for salads, or in a trail mix combined with other seeds, nuts, and dried fruit.
Nuts, especially raw almonds are healthy and full of protein and calcium. You can eat almonds or drink almond milk to increase the creaminess, sweetness, and amount of your breast milk.
11. Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil
Like sesame seeds, flaxseed has phytoestrogens that can promote breast milk production. You can mix flaxseed into your oatmeal and smoothies.
12. Fresh Ginger Root
Fresh ginger is not only a healthy addition to your diet, but it can also increase breast milk production and help with the let-down reflex. You can add fresh, raw ginger to the dishes that you cook, by drinking ginger ale made with real ginger or by boiling the raw ginger and making tea.
13. Brewer's Yeast
Brewer's yeast is a very healthy nutritional supplement that contains B vitamins, iron, protein, chromium, selenium, and other minerals. You can use it to not only help you to make more breast milk, but it may also give you more energy, have a positive effect on your mood, and get rid of the baby blues. You can find brewer's yeast in tablet or powder form.
Need an eco-friendly breast milk storage option? Check out Junobie, featured in this blog article's featured image.