Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful and rewarding experiences a mother can share with her newborn baby. It is also one of the best ways to ensure your baby receives all the necessary nutrients for growth and development. However, many moms struggle with milk production and may feel discouraged when their baby is not getting enough. While several factors could impact breast milk production, including frequency and consistency of nursing, diet also plays an integral part in supporting lactation.
In this article, we'll discuss top breastfeeding superfoods and hydrating drinks that you can include in your diet. These contain essential vitamins and minerals plus various natural properties that can help optimize your milk supply. We'll also discuss foods and beverages you should avoid as a nursing mother, so let's dive in!
The Best Foods to Help Increase Breastmilk Supply
1. Barley and Barley Malt
Barley is rich in beta-glucan, a polysaccharide proven to boost prolactin (one of the important hormones in breast milk production). Add whole barley to soups, salads, stews, and even risotto. You can also use barley flakes to make milk or mix it into your homemade bread recipe.
Barely malt is simply germinated barley grain. Germination transforms the barley into a sweet, syrupy malt loaded with beta-glucan. You can use barley malt syrup as a healthier alternative for maple syrup or other sweeteners in baking. Just make sure to buy pure barley malt because some brands opt to cut their malt with high-fructose corn syrup to make it sweeter.
Oats are a fantastic source of iron, a nutrient vital for breastfeeding mothers. Low iron levels can potentially limit breast milk production, so it's highly beneficial to include plenty of oats in your diet whenever possible!
3. Whole Wheat and Brown Rice
Both whole wheat and brown rice are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates which provide a steady and sustained release of energy. These fiber-rich foods benefit breastfeeding moms who require extra energy to support the body's increased metabolic demands and ensure adequate milk production.
Instead of using refined white flour, try incorporating whole wheat flour into your bread, pancake, and muffin recipes. Similarly, consider brown rice a healthier alternative whenever you'd typically use white rice.
4. Fennel and Fennel Seeds
Fennel is a lactogenic plant from the Mediterranean that can be cooked or eaten raw. The bulb, leaves, and stalk of fennel plants are edible and can be added to soups, stews, or other fennel recipes. They also contain phytoestrogens that boost the milk production process.
Additionally, several studies have linked fennel seed consumption to greater milk volume and infant weight gain.
5. Leafy greens and reddish veggies
Leafy greens should be a building block of your diet. They are loaded with essential nutrients that support lactation. Many also contain phytoestrogen.
It's best also to include plenty of reddish or orange vegetables like beets, carrots, and yams. These veggies are full of beta-carotene, which your body will need a lot of to maintain adequate breast milk supply. Beets, particularly, are an excellent source of iron and other essential minerals. Many moms suffer from iron deficiency after giving birth, so eating beets is a great way to replenish iron levels.
6. Brewer's yeast
Brewer's yeast is rich in B vitamins, chromium, iron, protein, and selenium. No wonder why it's often included in nutritional supplements. Many believe that its probiotic properties also contribute to a healthier breast milk supply. You can use brewer's yeast as an additive to baked goods, pancakes, smoothies, and more!
7. Garlic and other spices
Garlic is very nutritious and a healthy addition to most diets. It's also believed to be a galactagogue that helps nursing moms make more breast milk. Though garlic has a strong odor that goes into breast milk, some infants seem to like the taste. Studies show that garlic-flavored milk may help keep breastfed babies nursing longer. Conversely, some children may not tolerate garlic very well. If your baby shows any signs of food sensitivity after you eat garlic, it may be best to follow your little one's lead and avoid it for a while.
Anise, basil, black pepper, caraway, dill, and marjoram are other herbs and seasonings you can include in your diet that can help with breast milk production.
Fresh ginger is a versatile and nutrient-dense herb that not only adds a delightful zest to your meals but also provides numerous health benefits, particularly for breastfeeding moms. It can boost breast milk production and help with the let-down reflex.
You can incorporate ginger into your daily routine by boiling the raw ginger and making tea or drinking ginger ale made with real ginger. While fresh ginger is considered safe, you should consult your doctor before taking ginger supplements.
9. Healthy oils and fats
The types of fats that you consume will influence the fat content and composition of your breast milk. Cut out as many unhealthy fats as possible and replace them with healthy fats like cold-pressed virgin olive or coconut oil. Butter is another good, all-purpose product that you can consume. An excellent way to get these healthy fats into your diet is to drizzle a spoonful of cold-pressed olive, sesame, or flaxseed oil over your food at meals.
3 Drinks To Increase Breastmilk Supply
While foods often get all the attention as a way to boost breast milk supply, you have to remember that staying well-hydrated is essential too. Breast milk is 87% water, so drinking adequate fluid is vital to support breast milk production. If you feel an increased thirst while nursing, it's your body's natural way of telling you that you need to drink more.
Drinking water is one of the simplest ways to replenish lost bodily fluids. Besides the fact that breast milk is 87% water, your body also tends to lose more water than usual during the postpartum period, so you'd need to drink more water to avoid dehydration.
11. Multivitamin + Electrolyte Drinks
"Will drinking more water increase my breastmilk supply?"
Breastfeeding moms are advised to drink about 128 ounces of water daily, but you don't have to force yourself to guzzle too much water even if you're not thirsty. Doing so could dilute the essential nutrients in your breast milk, leading to a less nutrient-dense supply for your baby. It's important to remember that the quality of your breast milk matters as much as the quantity.
While breast milk is mostly water, it's also packed with antibodies, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium and sodium. It is essential to make sure you're also replenishing lost electrolytes. Breastfeeding is one of those times when drinking plain water isn't enough to restore electrolyte balance.*
Multivitamins and electrolyte drinks help replenish these nutrients.* They also provide you with an extra boost of energy. They're a convenient pick-me-up drink if you're feeling a bit tired or rundown - which, let's face it, is a common dilemma for a lot of nursing moms!
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that not all supplements are created equal. Some are filled with harmful chemicals, caffeine, and extra sugar that can do more harm than good for you and your baby, while other options, such as Root’d Prenatal MULTI’s, don't include a full range of nutrients necessary to meet your daily needs.
12. Oat Milk
Oat milk is an excellent alternative for those who can't consume dairy milk. It is made from whole-grain oats and is naturally sweet and creamy, making it a delicious choice for beverages, cereals, and smoothies. It contains beta-glucan, a type of fiber believed to help boost breast milk supply.
It's also packed with vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B, iron, and calcium, which are all beneficial for maintaining a healthy diet and supporting breast milk production.
Oat milk is dairy-free, so it's a fantastic option if you're lactose intolerant or if your baby is sensitive to cow's milk. Always remember to check labels for added sugars and opt for unsweetened versions whenever possible.
What to Avoid While Breastfeeding
There are anti-lactogenic foods and drinks that could decrease milk supply when breastfeeding. They are generally high in calories but low in nutrition, such as fast foods, chips, sweets, and soda or soft drinks with high sugar content. You may want to limit coffee or other caffeine-rich beverages as too much caffeine may affect your or your baby's sleep, leading to fussiness and irritability.
You may have also heard about the claim that beer has a positive impact on breast milk supply, but the truth is drinking alcohol lowers breast milk production. Though barley is an ingredient used in beer, the alcohol content can block the release of oxytocin, affecting the let-down reflex. Remember that anything you eat and drink is passed onto your baby through breast milk, so not drinking alcohol at all is the best and safest option for breastfeeding moms.
Don't worry though 'cuz we got you, Momma! Happy Hour is back! We've compiled a list of low-calorie and sugar-free roottail recipes you can enjoy at home or a party! Yes, you read it right! We call 'em #roottails since they're all infused with Root'd Prenatal MULTI — a full-spectrum multivitamin and hydration powder mix loaded with essential nutrients that your body craves, especially now that you're sharing nutrients with your little one.
The best diet for a breastfeeding mom is a varied, balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Just remember that while many of these lactogenic foods have been beneficial for a lot of moms, you do not want to overdo eating them. An excessive supply of breast milk could lead to problems such as breast engorgement, mastitis, and plugged milk ducts.
The same rule applies when choosing a supplement. Always consult a doctor or lactation consultant before taking any supplement. They can help you select the right multivitamins for pregnant and breastfeeding moms like you.
It's crucial to choose a prenatal multivitamin that offers the right balance of essential nutrients to avoid toxicity or deficiency. There are a lot of supplements out there, particularly the gummy vitamins that contain unhealthy amounts of sugar. Remember, the goal is to complement and enhance your nutrition, not to compromise it. Stay away from multivitamins with artificial and synthetic ingredients. Opt for natural and sugar-free options like Root'd. (side note - prenatal vitamins also act as postnatal vitamins, and are still recommended during breast feeding).
Each pack of Root’d Prenatal MULTI contains a proprietary blend of high-quality ingredients, including 25 vitamins and minerals, enzymes, probiotics, and superfoods that aid in absorbing electrolytes and all robust nutrition needed to support your increased nutritional demand during lactation.
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