The foods that you consume during the breastfeeding phase are very important. The right nutrition not only helps you be energetic and healthy at this time, but it also promotes the development of your baby. Many new mothers struggle with the lack of breast milk supply in the early months, some do so even after they have a routine set. Here is a list of what we call lactation foods, those food items that increase breast milk production:
1. Whole Grain
There are a lot of whole grains like barley, whole wheat, brown rice etc that are rich sources of beta-glucan which helps in the production of Prolactin. Prolactin, also known as the breastfeeding hormone, plays a big role in increasing your milk supply. Since a lot of whole grains are already a part of the Indian diet, you don’t have to struggle to find them in the market. You can consume them in bread recipes, as part of cereal with milk and in any other food recipes that suit you.
Foods that increase breast milk are also called galactagogues, garlic being included in this category. It is a very healthy food that has properties that prevent cancer and is good for the heart too. The favour of garlic lingers in the breast milk too, often leading babies to like it more. On the other hand, there are also sensitive children who do not like even the odour of garlic and might refuse breast milk. See how your own baby reacts to it and accordingly add garlic to the meals that you have to increase your milk production.
Also known as Saunf in Hindi, fennel seeds and other edible parts of fennel have properties similar to the estrogen hormone. Some even call it plant estrogen, which further promotes the production of breast milk in nursing mothers. The taste of fennel seeds is widely liked as mouth fresheners and they are even used as spices in some dishes.
4. Green and leafy vegetables
Green vegetables have been known to be healthy for people of all ages, and it holds true for breastfeeding mothers as well. These are rich in iron and calcium, making them better for preventing anaemia and increasing milk production respectively. The list of such vegetables includes spinach, broccoli, kale, lettuce etc. Make sure that your daily diet has green leafy vegetables as much as possible.
5. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds also known as Til, are rich in calcium and plant estrogens that are good for your breast milk supply. Sesame seeds can be eaten alone or as part of many different recipes. It is often used as a final garnishing touch to a lot of foods in Asian cuisines.
6. Dry fruits and nuts
Dry fruits and nuts are one of the superfoods that are great for breast milk production. They are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, both good for lactating mothers. Some dry fruits like almonds are very rich in calcium too. The overall combination of these nutrients makes them very useful. You can eat almonds as they are, drink almond milk or add them to other recipes as you like.
This is a good food to tackle anaemia caused during pregnancy. Once you are breastfeeding, the high iron content from oats helps in fulfilling your iron deficiencies. Similar to other whole grains, oats also contain beta-glucan, which along with the iron, raises your milk supply as well
A high protein diet is essential during the breastfeeding period as it gives you energy and ensures a higher quantity of breast milk. Pulses are a great source of protein, that too without any significant fat content. The high fibre in them also helps in easy digestion. You can eat many pulses in the various types of Dal in the Indian diet, beans and other legumes too.
9. Cumin Seeds
Many young mothers are advised to take cumin seeds with warm milk or water. It is not just a home-remedy, but also a scientifically approved food that promotes the production of breast milk. Cumin seeds are full of iron, a mineral that is needed by lactating women. Also known as Zeera, cumin is largely used in Indian cooking, consuming it is not really difficult.
10. Cow’s milk
Milk and other dairy products are incredibly helpful in raising the quantity of breast milk your own body produces. If you are not intolerant to milk, drinking cow’s milk also makes sure that your breastfeeding child will also be tolerant to cow’s milk. The calcium and protein from milk and dairy products are vital during the breastfeeding period.
11. Raw Papaya
While eating raw papaya is cautioned against during pregnancy, consuming it after childbirth helps in breastfeeding. This fruit definitely comes under the category of a galactagogue as it increases the production of oxytocin in your body and later, breast milk. You can consume it in fruit salads, with yoghurt or even in Thai cuisine foods.
While all these foods solve the problem of how to increase breast-milk supply, you have to be sure that you are not overdoing it either. Breastfeeding is an intimate activity between the mother and her child, no third party can define whether your milk supply is enough or not. Partners, relatives or friends are not a part of this demand and supply equation, thus try not to take any stress from any unsolicited advice regarding your breastfeeding practices. It is better to consult with doctors instead if you feel that your baby is not being nourished properly or if you are suffering from any other problems. In the end, a happy and healthy mother is the one that can make her child happy as well.