Here are 13 foods that support a healthy breastmilk supply – this is a must-read guide for any breastfeeding mother!
I think one of the things I see most women concerned about when it comes to breastfeeding is their supply.
Are they producing enough? Too much? How can they increase it?
Chances are, you are producing enough if you are feeding on demand and frequently. If your baby is fed pumped milk, make sure they are being pace fed to ensure you don’t think you have a supply problem when you really don’t.
I’ve already written extensively about how to increase milk supply. However, I thought today I’d just share some different foods that help increase milk supply, as well as some ways to get those foods in your diet (some of them are a bit weird!)
I’ve done a lot of research into different recommended foods, and these are items that I’ve seen top many lists, and that I’ve used myself, that help to support healthy breast milk supply.
As a word of “warning” – the best thing to help increase supply is by more nipple stimulation – whether it’s by putting the baby to the breast or pumping. If you aren’t stimulating the breast frequently, no food or supplement is going to help you.
Of course, if you are experiencing supply issues, consult with an IBCLC to come up with a specialized plan. However, if you are just wanting to make sure you are eating a balanced diet that supports lactation, this is a great list of foods to incorporate into your diet.
Many of you know that I am a big supporter of breastfeeding. I created a breastfeeding support group recently on Facebook, and it’s made me so happy to see women joining and supporting one another. I truly believe that one of the biggest keys to success when it comes to breastfeeding is having support – and I’m grateful that I can help other women who may not have a ton of support otherwise. Make sure you join!
Can You Affect the Calories/Fat in Your Breast Milk?
A lot of women ask if they can increase the amount of calories or fat in their milk. It can be hard to not know exactly what the caloric intake of your breast milk is – but rest assured; most mothers are producing the exact amount of calories and fat that their baby needs.
In fact, the average amount of calories in breast milk is 22kcal, which is more than in typical formula! If you are curious about testing your milk, Lactation Lab is an AWESOME resource. They can tell you all sorts of things about the makeup of your milk, including the caloric content. One of my friends recently tested this out, and they loved all the results they received. It was really neat to see them myself.
With that said – can you increase it if you need to? According to Kelly Mom, you can’t really change the caloric or fat amount in your milk. However, you can improve the quality of the fat in your breast milk by altering the types of fats you incorporate into your diet.
There is also a correlation between having emptier breasts and having higher fat content in the milk. So really, the best thing you can do is make sure you feed your baby frequently!
This is the number one product I see on different lists. Oats are a great product to incorporate into your diet as you breastfeed, and it’s one of the products I’ve seen help me the most as well. Here are a few ideas:
- Oatmeal (Coach’s Oats are my personal favorite – I noticed a definite increase in milk supply when eating these regularly)
- Granola Bars (such as Nature Valley Oats and Honey Crunch bar)
- Lactation Cookies and lactation power balls
- Using oat flour instead of white flour in baked goods (super easy to make in a high power blender like the BlendTec)
- Nature Valley Soft Baked Oatmeal Squares
Flax seed is often an ingredient in lactation cookies. It is also great when added to smoothies. It doesn’t have a very long shelf-life though, so keep that in mind. I buy it in small amounts from Sprouts. It needs to be ground before eating (you can buy it pre-ground) or you can even buy flax seed oil. It has a nutty flavor. Other ways to incorporate it:
- Smoothies – you want to know a quick smoothie? Combine almond milk with any of these Lil’ Bits flavors. I promise, it’s awesome and easy – Apple and Banana, Banana Apple Mango, and Banana Apple Strawberry.
- In baked goods (such as bread doughs)
- As an oil – in salad dressings, on top of popcorn, to season a cast iron skillet, etc.
There are so many great ways to incorporate nuts into your diet! While you shouldn’t eat too many, because they can contain a lot of calories in a small amount, they are certainly good for increasing some.
- Peanut Butter
- Almond Butter – I absolutely love NatuNature Valley Biscuits with Almond Butter. SO Good and great for a breakfast on the go.
- Nuts on salad
- Nutella (I have a friend that swears by this!)
- Nature Valley has TONS of products that are chockful of different kinds of nuts.
I think when people think of increasing milk supply, Fenugreek is one of the first things that is often suggested. I do think it helps (it certainly did for me when I wasn’t producing anything on one side), but I think it’s best to not use it as your first option – especially if you aren’t really struggling a lot with supply.
It can cause an irritated stomach (in both baby and mom), and if you struggle with hypoglycemia or several other issues, you should really avoid it. However, it can help, and it’s often an ingredient in lactation supporting capsules, mother’s milk tea, etc. Kelly Mom has a good page with information on Fenugreek, including dosing. It can be bought over the counter at most stores.
- You can get these in capsule form
- Add to salads or sandwiches
This one came as a relief to me – I really put garlic in almost every savory dish I make. Along with a few other items on this list, you can make a killer spaghetti sauce (and really, garlic goes great in ANY Italian dish!)
Great in Italian sauces. You can actually take these in capsule form as well. I know some people recommend it when you take Fenugreek, as it can help settle your stomach (it’s a common ingredient in Gripe Water!)
You can also get fennel seed capsules.
Carrots are one of my favorite vegetables, so I was happy to see this was commonly recommended to help support milk production. My mom makes a great carrot dish that has butter and brown sugar…so not exactly healthy, but it is delicious. You could make it using coconut oil instead, which is a great healthy fat (also recommended while breastfeeding.
- Carrot Soup
- In other stews
- With a roast (along with onions and potatoes)
- Carrot cake
- I know this might be silly, but I actually LOVE eating these. Buy some for your baby and eat a few bites yourself 🙂
I’m not a big fan of fish, but salmon is one of the few fishes I really do enjoy. Try salmon with:
- Lemon juice
- Olive Oil
- Panko crusted
Perfect for salads – I love spinach salads with nuts, berries, and shredded parmesan cheese, along with a yummy vinaigrette. You can also add it to casseroles, pizza, and even smoothies!
Great when put in sauces and Italian foods. I actually really like adding basil to my pesto.
Chickpeas are basically the same thing as a garbanzo bean, and it is the main ingredient in hummus! I love hummus – you can make it yourself or buy many different flavors at the store. It’s a great dip for carrots, pita bread, and other vegetables.
I even have made chickpea cookies before!
Okay, this technically isn’t a food, but it’s one of the most important things you can consume as a breastfeeding mother! I mean, you are providing your baby with so much liquid through breast milk – you need to be taking in a lot too. If you have a hard time drinking water, I think infused water bottles are awesome for adding a little bit of natural flavor to your water so it’s a little less boring.
It can be hard to make meals throughout the day when you are nursing a baby – I know! Fortunately, there are some greats ways to add these to your diet in a convenient way – some of which I mentioned above. Many of the items above come in capsule form or can be thrown into smoothies, cookies, etc.
We all know that while breastfeeding is so rewarding, it takes a lot out of you emotionally and physically. Even if you don’t need the support, try and support other breastfeeding mothers you see!
I am not a healthcare professional. Please consult your physician or lactation consultant for advice on your specific situation.
I do hope that you found this post helpful. I would love for you to signup to get these great QUICK reference guides for power pumping and breastmilk storage. I’ll be sharing weekly tips on breastfeeding and babies to all those who sign up!
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