If you’re a nursing mother, you probably have a thousand questions running through your mind – but one of the most important questions most women have is, “what should I eat in order to have a steady, good-quality supply of breastmilk?”
The nursing phase is one that requires a lot of attention – whatever you eat during this period is crucial to your physical and mental post-delivery recovery, which domino effects onto the amount of milk you produce and of course your baby’s health.
With a lot at stake it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and frightened, but don’t worry – as long as you take the support and advice of your Doctor and include a few key elements to your postpartum diet, you can be on your way to a healthy supply of milk and hopefully breastfeed for as long as you planned.
Best foods in postpartum diet to increase breast milk quickly
Naturally, the more you nurse your little one, the more milk will produce in the breasts. The process of emptying milk in the first place signals to the body that it needs to increase production. If you feel your supply stills needs an improvement, consider adding milk-producing foods, or galactagogues, to your diet.
Here is a list of food and drink that can help increase breast milk supply for breastfeeding mothers:
1. Chicken and other proteins
So often, new mothers reach for sugar to give them the boost of energy they so desperately need thanks to exhaustion. Unfortunately, this only creates an unhealthy cycle – the fleeting ‘high’ crashes as low blood sugar leading to even more sugar cravings.
Instead, reach for protein-rich foods – protein and good fats are digested slower than carbohydrates so they help to give a drip feed of energy, help to improve the quality of the protein in the milk and help keep your baby satisfied. In this case, chicken is a very versatile ingredient – whether making a soup, broth, stock, as a topping to a salad or a barbecued skewer, chicken is packed full of body-warming protein that can help you feel fuller for longer, keep your energy levels up, increase your milk flow and fuel your baby.
2. Fenugreek and other herbal teas
Staying hydrated and drinking enough water is essential to both mother and child as well as milk production, but if you need a little flavour kick, why not try certain herbal teas? Some are known to improve both the quality and quantity of breast milk supply.
Fenugreek, for example, is typically the primary ingredient in most nursing teas. It’s a common herb made from a seed from the Mediterranean area, that breastfeeding women use to help increase the supply of breast milk. It has a bitter taste and a maple syrup smell and is not considered harmful when used in moderation. However, it can cause your breast milk and even your baby’s urine to smell like maple syrup!
Alongside fenugreek, other nursing teas that are safe for breastfeeding mothers to drink in moderation are fennel, nettle and raspberry as they contain vitamins and minerals that help with anaemia, fatigue and digestive issues (1).
3. Dark leafy greens and other micronutrients
It’s important to replenish your body with lost vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids after giving birth. Your body has gone through so many changes and needs a helping hand in order to function at its optimum level and produce milk.
Making a smoothie is a simple and easy way to include all the goodness you require to keep you going day and night. Have some leftover spinach or kale? Throw it into the juicer with some fruit! Natural occurring minerals like iron folate in broccoli and red peppers for example, as well as vitamin c found in oranges and strawberries, can help regulate your energy levels, help you get a good night’s sleep and help you ease constipation (2).
If you’re happy with supplements and powders, why not try The Morning Elixir by Alchemy Superblends which is high in fibre, vitamin C, vegan protein, iron, B2 and folate – all in one beautiful package.
4. Avocados and other anti-inflammatory foods
Anti-inflammatory, nutrient-rich foods help inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines – molecules that regulate inflammation levels. Since the goal is to heal the body post birth, rebuild tissues, protect mental health and produce nutrient-rich breast milk, anti-inflammatory foods are a huge power player in the postpartum diet.
Healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil can improve digestion and help keep your gut happy and healthy.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information you’re bombarded with, don’t worry – if you keep a variety of anti-inflammatory and healing foods as the cornerstone of your postpartum diet, you’ll naturally receive nutrients in every meal and hopefully keep producing nutrient-rich breast milk.
Always consult your Doctor should you have any questions or concerns, and before adding or changing your diet before, during and after your pregnancy.