Some women may have lower production levels of breast milk than usual. This may pertain to a range of possible reasons including post-pregnancy anemia, vitamin & mineral deficiencies, maternal obesity, pregnancy-induced hypertension, premature births, hormonal imbalance, etc.
For these mothers, there are certain foods, drugs or substances that can specifically help in increasing milk production. These substances are known as a galactagogue. While not all women see a difference with lactation foods, it is always a better idea to try fresh foods out before switching to drugs or chemicals.
It is needless to mention the importance and benefits of water, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, good sleep, stress-free lifestyle – not only to increase breast milk production but also to holistically maintain good health. Further below, find a list of easily available everyday foods that you can inculcate in your daily routine.
Important: Smoking and drinking alcohol can be really harmful (for both yourself and for the baby, too) in many ways – may reduce the natural breast milk production; may pass into milk giving it a bad taste thus making the baby refuse drinking milk; may also cause health issues to the baby (which may or may not be immediately visible).
a. Fruits and Veggies
1. Papaya: Raw papaya is a great food that acts as a galactagogue. It helps boost the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin increases the production of milk.
2. Watermelon: Loaded with fiber, water, and fructose, watermelon (alternatively, coconut) ensures hydration and also infuses essential minerals that help maintain/increase breast milk supply.
3. Carrots: Though there is no proven evidence of the same, carrots are believed to help with boosting lactation. Further, being rich in Vitamin A, they also help the baby.
4. Garlic: Benefits of garlic is no new news. To add on, garlic contributes positively to improve breast milk production naturally.
Tip: for those who don’t prefer the aftertaste, can consider garlic pills which do not have lave behind the smell.
5. Spinach: infused with iron, spinach is a good option to boost your condition of low breast milk production. Do not forget to boil it before consumption to avoid food-borne illnesses.
6. Bottle Guard: It is a vegetable, consuming which can help nursing mothers retain water and stay hydrated as water is essential for lactation.
7. Drumstick: The high iron and calcium content in drumsticks is great for lactation. Parallelly, it also boosts immunity and enhances the nervous system.
8. Chickpeas: since ancient Egyptian times, breastfeeding women have been consuming chickpeas owing to its high dose of protein. They also contain plant estrogens which act as a galactagogue.
Salmon contains DHA and omega-3 – both of which not only improve lactation levels but also increases the nutrition in the milk.
c. Nuts, Seeds and Dry Fruits
1. Nuts: nuts help produce serotonin. Serotonin, in turn, is an essential factor in milk production. Among many, almonds and apricots are two great foods that help mothers improve their breast milk owing to great amounts of protein and calcium.
2. Fennel or fennel seeds: estrogen is crucial for breast milk production. Fennel or fennel seeds have similar nature and properties as estrogen. Therefore they may aid breast milk production.
3. Fenugreek seeds: Flexible for consumption in the form of tea or in the form of capsules, Fenugreek seeds increases the flow of milk.
4. Sesame Seeds: mothers with low breast milk can benefit from sesame seeds owing to their high-calcium and estrogen-like properties.
5. Cumin Seeds: while cumin seeds may help boost milk supply in women, please take note that they need to be taken in moderation.
Anemia is believed to be linked with low levels of breast milk production. Mothers undergoing post-pregnancy anemia highly benefit from oatmeal which is a great and rich source of iron. The high quantities of iron help increase red blood cell count in the blood that further leads to a boost in the production of breast milk.
1. Basil leaves: a great source of anti-oxidants, basil leaves also have a calming effect that is a positive factor for lactation. Additionally, basil leaves also help boost immunity levels.
2. Curry leaves: rich in various minerals, curry leaves help lactating women to boost the production of breast milk. To add on, curry leaves are also believed to improve blood circulation and the ability of the body to break nutrients down.
Barley, a component of beer is believed to be lactogenic. Barley contains an extremely rich dietary source of beta-glucan, a polysaccharide that has been noted to boost prolactin release among both humans and animals. Prolactin is the breastfeeding hormone.
g. Other whole grains:
Rich in beta-glucan, whole wheat and brown rice are great catalysts for breast milk production.