Mom with baby

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.

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!

Never Miss a Beat!

Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!

Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to opt out and HELP for help. Go to https://pages.upmc.com/terms for privacy and terms.

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.

Vegetables

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Dandelion greens
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Seaweed
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes

Fruits

Whole grains

  • Barley
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Rice

Nuts and seeds

  • Almonds
  • Caraway seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

Beans/Legumes

  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils

Herbs and spices

  • Basil
  • Cumin
  • Dill
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Hibiscus
  • Lemon balm
  • Red clover
  • Turmeric

Miscellaneous

  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Hops

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.

Sources

Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation. Meeting Maternal Nutrient Needs During Lactation. LINK

La Leche League International. Selection and Use of Galactagogues. LINK

About UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital

For more than a century, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital has provided high-quality medical care to women at all stages of life. UPMC Magee is long renowned for its services to women and babies, but also offers a wide range of care to men as well. Nearly 10,000 babies are born each year at Magee, and the hospital’s NICU is one of the largest in the country. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, and the Magee-Womens Research Institute is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology.