By Wendy Colson, RN, IBCLC, RLC
Every breastfeeding mom knows how essential nutrition is during breastfeeding, and especially which foods can increase breast milk supply. Foods known to help with producing breast milk are known as “lactogenic.” Staying well nourished during breastfeeding in conjunction with plenty of skin to skin, breastfeeding and pumping will help you increase your breastmilk supply quickly. Adding in these foods is another layer that can help you stay nourished and boost your breastmilk! Some foods are natural galactogogues that when included as part of your day to day diet can help increase milk production.
What Foods Help Produce Breast Milk?
- Whole Grains: oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa, millet. These grains contain high amounts of beta glucan which supports prolactin secretion and are a great source of B vitamins, fiber and help provide a steady stream of energy for you and are one of the best foods for breastmilk production.
How to use them: cook a batch and toss them on salads, add alongside quick cooking protein and veggie, serve with your favorite stir fry.
- Quality Protein Sources: chicken, beef, fish, eggs, pork and vegetarian sources of protein such as tofu and tempeh can help you meet your increased protein needs during lactation. Protein requirements increase during breastfeeding and are an essential part of increasing breastmilk production.
How to use them: proteins typically take the longest to prep so you can batch cook them using an instant pot, slow cook larger cuts of meats or purchase some ready prepped options such as a rotisserie chicken, hard boiled eggs or sliced deli meats to use for quick meals.
- Nuts and Seeds: fennel seeds, almonds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and flax seeds, these contain healthy fats and are rich in zinc, b vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids. This makes them an amazing milk producing food in your diet!
How to use them: toss seeds in your smoothie, on your yogurt or use as salad toppings.
- Dark Leafy Greens: spinach, kale, collard greens provide a source of plant based iron, calcium and phytoestrogens which can help support breast milk supply.
How to use them: sauté them in olive oil and add to eggs and protein based dishes or egg muffins, add a handful to smoothies alongside some protein powder or chop and eat raw as part of a salad bowl
- Root Veggies: orange root vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and beets are rich in beta carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A which increases in need during lactation
How to use them: Roast a batch of these vegetables to serve alongside with a baked protein, have them on hand to snack on with dip such as hummus or greek yogurt.
- Legumes and Beans: chickpeas, kidney, black, pinto beans offer a wonderful dose of plant based protein + fiber
How to use them: Toss them in salads and grain bowl alongside the milk boosting grains above, roast them to snack on or use in soups/stews
- Herbs & Spices: dill, caraway, anise, garlic, pepper, basil, marjoram all can be wonderful additions to your dishes and are a lactation food
How to use them: Toss them on cooked eggs, meat dishes, or chop and add to salad/grain bowls
Since galactagogues happen to be staple ingredients for any healthy diet they can be a safe + delicious way that food can increase your milk supply. While it is always best to focus on maximizing your nutrition from whole, clean foods, busy mom life means that alternative options can be a great addition to your pantry.
How Can I Increase My Milk Supply Quickly?
- Ensure you are eating enough calories, milk making foods and staying well hydrated
If you haven’t been able to eat enough or stay on top of your hydration. Focus on eating something rich in complex carbs, protein and fat can help ensure your body is getting enough to meet your increased calorie needs. To increase your milk supply quickly you can add in foods that increase milk supply at each meal (for example, a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, adding nuts to your lunch and adding herbs to dinner) can support your goals of increasing your breastmilk supply fast.
- Planning for plenty of breastfeeding and/or pumping sessions
This is the best way to ensure that your breasts are getting enough “stimulation” which helps increase your milk supply. Your baby is the most effective way to increase your breast milk supply as quickly as possible!
Add in skin to skin time
Skin to skin time (baby on your chest/close to you) helps pump up the oxytocin and sends the signal to your body to increase breast milk. Between your breastfeeding/pumping sessions plan to have baby on your chest or wear them in your favorite sling/wrap to keep them close.