When mothers choose to feed their infants with breastmilk, starting early, and frequent and regular milk removal (either by infant suckling at the breast or pumping) primarily drive their milk supply. If this happens, you will make breastmilk no matter what you eat. But you also must take care of yourself.
Following a diet that has a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats will help you care for yourself as you breastfeed your child.
Along with milk removal, some moms find that certain foods may help boost their milk supply. Do keep in mind that consuming these foods alone will not have any effect on your supply. These foods may help only if the primary act of milk removal happens regularly and frequently.
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Breast Milk Production
You don’t have to eat a special diet, but you will feel better if you make it nutritious and include plenty of:
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Whole grains.
- Protein-rich foods like fish, poultry, meats, eggs, or Greek yogurt.
- Nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, or olive oil.
You may find yourself more hungry or thirsty as you breastfeed. If this happens, eat to satisfy your hunger and drink to quench your thirst. And continue to take your prenatal vitamins!
What Foods Help Lactation?
Foods and herbs that help support lactation are known as galactagogues, from “galacta,” the Greek word for milk.
Your milk supply is naturally regulated by how much your baby demands, or how much you pump, so galactagogues aren’t necessary in most cases. But, if you are worried about your milk supply and need to enhance it, please talk to a lactation consultant. They will be able to discuss if these foods and herbs are right for you. In many cultures around the world, these foods are part of a regular or postpartum diet.
- Dandelion greens
- Green beans
- Sweet potatoes
Nuts and seeds
- Caraway seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Flax seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Herbs and spices
- Lemon balm
- Red clover
- Blackstrap molasses
- Brewer’s yeast
The list of foods that may increase your milk supply is large. If you eat a variety of whole foods and add flavorful herbs and spices, it’s easy to get many of these into your daily diet.
Besides potentially helping boost milk production, these foods, herbs, and spices have other essential health benefits. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting compounds that may help with your postpartum recovery.
It is important to note that discussing the use of herbs and spices with a lactation consultant can help ensure that these are appropriate for you to consume. A lactation consultant can help create an optimal breastfeeding/pumping schedule for you and your baby.
Along with a good diet, adequate rest and support are equally important in the postpartum period.
Talk to Your Doctor
If your baby is feeding regularly and has a good latch, or you’re pumping regularly, your milk supply should keep up with your baby’s demand. If you find that your supply needs to be supplemented, it’s important to consult a doctor and a lactation consultant. Don’t rely just on lactation foods to do the trick.
About UPMC Magee-Womens
Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.
Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.