7 nutritional sources that increase breast milk
Increasing your breast milk production is not something that is automatic or easy for all new mothers. There are factors that do trigger a process of milk production naturally, but it is still difficult for some new mothers to make enough milk. We will look at some of the ways you can increase your breast milk production naturally.
Certain herbs, foods, plants, and supplements can help increase your milk supply. This was first discovered in the middle-ages as lactogenic. So the idea of milk-producing foods is not at all new, it has stood the test of time for a reason, here we will discuss some that are heavily encouraged in the diets of new mothers, in modern times.
Fenugreek, Fennel, Alfalfa, and Ginger can all be obtained as food sources quite easily at your local supermarket or greengrocer. While supplements like Goat's rue, Shatavari, Blessed Thistle, Brewer's Yeast, all make the list of lactogenic plants.
New mothers worry about whether they have enough milk. It's a common anxiety, so we've compiled a list of top herbs proven to promote milk production. Some of these herbs not only promote milk production but can increase your sense of wellbeing and calm. Also, they help with anxiety, relax your muscles (important for the milk 'let down' reflex) and ease colic in your baby.
Use Fenugreek and Fennel
Steep Fenugreek seeds in water (for 8-24 hours) then drain to make a tea, and then sipping throughout the day can help keep you hydrated. But the chief benefit of imbibing tea made from these stone-like seeds is to your breast milk production volume. Drinking tea made from the seeds can increase your milk volume within 24-48 hours and regular use will help keep your milk production
Fenugreek has long held the lead as a galactagogue (a herb, food, drug), which promotes milk production). Known for being a detoxifier, fenugreek's action promotes sweating and it's thought that since the breasts are glands, it works to produce more milk by increasing secretion in the all the body's glands.
Fennel is obtained in seed form, and made into a tea . Also, the bulbs work well in food. Bake it, or make salads from sliced bulbs. Popular for a variety of digestive complaints, it helps reduce colic and digestive distress in babies. Babies are also given a few sips of this carminative in their bottle and a mother drinking the tea can transmit some of the compounds through her breast milk while feeding her baby nutrients and a digestive aid at the same time.
- Alfalfa sprouts and seeds
Using alfalfa for increasing milk production comes from traditional tales. However, there is nutritional evidence to support this. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a common plant from the pea family. Also, alfalfa has been cultivated as crops since the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Alfalfa sprouts and seeds are nutritious, so add it to your food, or brew a tea infused from dried alfalfa leaves.
- Goat’s rue
Goat’s rue (Galega officinalis) is a highly recommended herb used by traditional midwives and modern lactation consultants alike. One of its unusual properties is its ability to increase breast tissue generally. The compounds in the plant have the effect of growing more breast tissue. It is used for women who have had breast surgery, as well as new mothers in the early stages of breastfeeding. The aim is to increase breast tissue volume while your milk supply is still building. Due to this, it works to increase milk supply as well.
Available as a supplement in capsule form, it can also be made from an infusion of dried leaves and drunken as a tea.
- Blessed Thistle
Blessed thistle is known for its diuretic properties. Like many other diuretics such as fennel, and fenugreek, it is also recommended for its milk production effects.
While there is not much science behind the belief, it is a common ingredient found in commercial supplements designed specifically for supporting milk production in lactating women. It is often prepared along with fennel and fenugreek in milk promoting supplements.
Wild asparagus, or Shatavari, comes from sub-continental India. There, it grows in the upper reaches of rocky soil in the hills and mountains of Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Himalayas.
Traditional midwives and Ayurvedic practitioners have advocated its use for centuries as a galactagogue for nursing mothers and now that it is available in the west, Shatavari is being prescribed to stimulate milk production in nursing mothers.
Traditionally, they made it into a herbal ghee, but more modern urban mothers may prefer taking a supplement orally as a tablet, powder, or liquid essence.
- Brewer's yeast
Popular for increasing milk production and accepted as a galactagogue, brewer's yeast is easy to buy. Many lactation consultants and old wives’ tales recommend this very old B-vitamin source for increasing milk supply.
This nutritional supplement contains iron, protein and many B vitamins, as well as selenium, chromium and other trace materials. Many mums and grannies claim that as a 'food' it helps promote milk production.
Ginger‘s wide use deserves a book, not a mere paragraph, on its uses and benefits. As a milk-producing food the action of ginger in the body helps 'letdown' and flow, promoting easy milk release. Breastfeeding mothers can consume ginger as part of their diet in meals, in teas or in ginger ale.
- an anti-inflammatory
- relieves muscle pain
- is a carminative and settles the stomach
- helps regulate blood sugar
- prevents heart disease and cancer
- reduces risk of diabetes in pregnancy
With all these benefits, add it to your lactogenic diet without hesitation. The muscle relief and calming effects of the plant, whether fresh or in powder form will generally benefit you.
Other factors like how much and how often you breastfeed will be the primary factor in creating and maintaining a sufficient milk supply. It's literally a demand and supply relationship, but adding lactogenic foods to your diet can help your milk supply.
These milk promoting foods should be a pleasure to include in your dining. We recommend adding these food to your meals as often as you can and combining a few of them in a salad can't hurt your efforts to produce more milk either.