One of the main worries of new mothers is the fear of not producing enough breast milk. Breast milk is essential for newborn babies, and this often puts mothers under a lot of stress. If your little one is getting hungry shortly after they were fed, it might mean, they are not getting enough. For these reasons, one should know what foods help produce breast milk.
There are food habits and certain foods with important nutrients which contribute highly to produce breast milk. Habits such as maintaining a balanced diet, hydrating enough, and so on, with foods such as salmon, green vegetables, and more.
Besides taking suggestions from your doctor, you need some knowledge about breast milk production as well. It will help you stay alert about how to and what you put in your system and pass it onto your baby. Through proper food habits and natural methods of producing more milk, as mentioned in this article, you will notice some differences.
5 Food Habits That Help Increase Breast Milk
Some food habits are essential for a mother to follow during pregnancy and even after they give birth. Implementing some healthy food habits is important as it ensures that the needed nutrition and care is being taken in general for the child and mother’s health.
Low breast milk production is one of the main causes of depression and worries for mothers after they give birth, which slows down the production even further. I have explained some food habits, even though not scientifically proven as yet but have been followed and maintained for generations.
The listed dietary habits below, have proven to work wonders when producing or increasing breast milk.
Maintaining a Balanced Diet
Have three meals a day with the different kinds of nutrients, about which I talk later in this article. Make sure you mix and match after advice from your doctor.
If you have a good share of everything in your diet- vegetables, fruits, fishes with low mercury, and other nutrition, the results will appear soon enough. Remember, a balanced diet does not mean “dietary restrictions”. You need food in your system to generate breast milk. A restrictive diet and limitation in food consumption will have a slow milk supply.
If your worries are related to weight gain, then eat a greater amount of healthier foods to avoid your stress. Stressing out due to fear of weight gain and ending up not eating, will hamper the milk supply more. Know that every mother gains weight and that is alright.
Besides, nutritious foods do not necessarily impact weight gain. As your child’s diet solely depends on you, thus no compromise can be made.
Adding Fish to Your Meals
Some fishes containing healthy fats are a great addition to meals for breastfeeding moms. Even if not three times a day, add fish to your meal. And in this case, fishes with low mercury are preferred. The fishes are- Tuna- light canned, salmon, cod, tilapia, bluefish, bass, flounder, trout, crab, squid, shrimp, and also clams.
DHA- Docosahexaenoic Acid can be boosted if you have fish of low mercury every week at least thrice. Some seafood fishes contain Omega-3 fats that are great for breastfeeding. Besides fish as healthy fats for your diet, further in this article, I also have a few others that you should add when you eat for increasing breast milk.
Adding Whole Grains and Greens in Your Meal
Whole grains for breastfeeding moms support the hormones in the body that is responsible for milk production. You can try barley, oatmeal, even oatmeal cookies, brown rice, and try out other foods that are made with whole grains.
Green vegetables are also a great addition to your meals if you want a boost in milk supply for breastfeeding. Dark green vegetables contain phytoestrogens, which help in milk production. Dark green vegetables contain fiber, carbohydrates, and iron that your body needs when producing milk.
Needless to say, breast milk mostly contains water. As breastfeeding continues, hydration is excessively important as it instantly boosts the flow in general. Breastfeeding also makes the mother feel thirsty as they breastfeed.
It is important to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day including other healthy drinks. Dehydration also might cause low flow of milk, as well as constipation for breastfeeding mothers. With no direct relationship with an increase in milk supply, but helps with a steady outcome.
However, do not force yourself to drink liquids. Just try to fill your thirst. Hydrating the body has multiple benefits.
You can also eat fruits that are great for hydration such as-
- Skim Milk
- Chicken Broth Soup
- Plain Yogurt
- Bell Pepper
Limiting Intake of Foods That Might Cause Allergies
Even though further in this article I mention some food habits you must avoid, some foods are not bad, but might cause you harm. These are the foods that your body no longer tolerates after giving birth.
Try to observe what food makes you feel nauseous, brings out rashes in your body, and might end up in diarrhea for you. If your body reacts after taking some food, even though they were fine for you before pregnancy, try to avoid them as much as possible.
Even if they do not have a direct connection with the production of breast milk, they have a connection in limiting the flow if you fall sick.
Nutrition for Increased Breast Milk
Besides knowing how to plan out your eating habits, you also must have a breakdown of the nutrition your body needs for milk production and breastfeeding. Some benefit in increasing the supply of milk, while some ensure you have enough stamina to carry on with breastfeeding while staying healthy.
The kinds of food that need to be included in your eating habits are the ones containing calcium, fiber, healthy fats, protein, iron, carbohydrates, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Below, with the nutrients, I have also listed the foods that contain those nutrients so that it is easier for you.
Calcium is important for strong bones. All the foods with calcium do not directly boost breast milk production. But pregnant women need calcium, as about 3 to 5 % of bone mass gets lost during breastfeeding.
Calcium helps in the functioning of the nervous, muscular, and circulatory systems. A breastfeeding mother needs about 1000mg of calcium every day. Here are some healthy sources of calcium, among which there are dairy products and seeds too that help increase breast milk. These are-
- Dairy Products low in fat
- Fenugreek Seeds
- Fenugreek Leaves
- Dill Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
I have already mentioned how important healthy fats are in your diet if you are breastfeeding. Healthy fats will help boost the milk supply. Besides fishes, some foods contain healthy fats, which are great for your child’s growth. They help with the development of the nervous system as well as the brain.
The healthy fats I refer to are-
- Peanut Oil
- Olive Oil
- Flaxseed Oil
Protein in your food helps in a steady flow of milk production. It also is an essential nutrient that passes along to your child, supporting your baby’s growth. If you are a breastfeeding mother, you need a minimum of 54grams of protein every day. However, the intake can be more.
Protein helps in repairing cells and also in maintaining them. Breastfeeding often causes mothers’ loss of energy, and protein helps in regaining that back. Some foods containing protein that should be added to your diet are-
- Peanut Butter
- Lean Meat
Fiber helps in milk production and keeps blood sugar steady. While you are consuming many nutrients during the process of increasing breast milk, some foods might cause you indigestion problems, and fiber can help you with that.
Foods containing fiber are not only good for breast milk production and breastfeeding, but also in general for pregnant women and new mothers. These are-
- Split Peas
- Bread of Whole Wheat
- Cereals of Whole Grain
- Brown Rice
- Dill Leaves
Iron does not directly help in increasing breast milk. However, if after childbirth, a mother has a postpartum hemorrhage, it might decrease the amount of milk that comes in. In that case, it is urgent to replenish the iron levels. A study has also found that low iron levels might be the reason behind the low supply of milk.
Iron ensures that the breastfeeding body remains healthy and operates well while nursing. Here are some foods that are rich in iron-
- Fenugreek Seeds
- Dill Seeds
- Red Meat
- Dried Fruits
Carbohydrates do not directly help in increasing breast milk but carbs intake highly impacts your health. If you are healthy and eating healthy, milk production will also be affected this way.
Carbohydrates help in the growth of your baby and will give you energy too. Here are some that are best during breastfeeding-
- Whole Grain Foods
- Sweet Potatoes
While vitamins are important for your body, let me remind you that vitamins do not replace a healthy diet and nutrition. It is just one of the additional nutrients you need during breastfeeding. Vitamin B12 can be found in-
- Milk with Low Fat
- Lean Meats
Vitamin A helps in the development of your child’s immune system, heart, and eyes. However, too much vitamin can be harmful, thus this should be charted. Great sources to get Vitamin A-
- Orange Colored Fruits
- Orange Colored Vegetables
- Dark Green Vegetables
It is known that breast tissues start to get damaged during breastfeeding. Vitamin C helps in repairing the tissues and also helps them grow. A daily dose of almost 1000mg can increase milk production. It will not cause harm to your child, however, you can assure it with your doctor.
Water-soluble Vitamin C supplements are popular in terms of increasing breast milk. The Vitamin Cs you need-
- Citrus Fruits
- Fortified Juices made of Fruits
- Bell Peppers
- Green Tea
Food Habits to Avoid While Breastfeeding
Most foods are safe to eat during breastfeeding. However, some are not generally as harmful as they are during the milk production process and breastfeeding.
There are some foods, beverages, spices that can affect milk production and the taste of milk. With these foods getting transferred into breast milk, your child might get fussy. Eventually, it might hamper growth, initial nutrition transfer, and other problems.
There are some foods as well that should be avoided due to the harm it generally causes with or without breastfeeding. I have listed them below.
Alcohol may sometimes make its way to breast milk. Even though the concentration is very thin, babies tend to digest only half compared to the rate of adults. If you are nursing right after drinking, it will decrease the amount of milk your child is taking to almost 25 percent. This will result in your child being fussy, agitated, and sleepless.
Alcohol intake should be limited – not taken at all if possible. Drinking too much during breastfeeding itself leaves your body unhealthy and might result in a lesser flow of milk.
Occasional drinking needs the cautiousness of timing and amount. If you have consumed alcohol and need to take it out of your system, you might have to pump and throw the milk away. If you are already suffering from low production of milk, in that case, try to abstain from drinking alcohol at all.
High consumption of alcohol can reduce the amount of breast milk produced by up to 20 percent. Other than that, it can also disrupt your sleeping pattern.
Even though caffeine is also passed into breast milk, babies are not usually affected by it health-wise. At least not directly and extremely. But, caffeine may be the reason why your child fusses to go to bed. If transferred through breast milk, remember, your baby will find it difficult to digest it. Even the little amount of coffee in the system is likely to disrupt the sleeping cycle.
There come more problems related to this. Sleepless nights also make you tired and it is highly unhealthy for breastfeeding mothers to have less sleep. For good flow, good production of milk, and proper breastfeeding, you need rest, and so does your baby. Thus, reduce the consumption of coffee to 2 cups.
I have already mentioned under the food habits section; how important it is to have a balanced diet. The right amount of food is important, but it is also necessary to know if your food is fresh and not processed.
Processed foods have high calories and the nutrition is mostly gone during the processing. There are unhealthy fats included in processed foods that eventually are bad for milk production. The added artificial sweetness is harmful. Besides that, the processed foods lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
If you are eating processed foods, it will eventually hamper your child’s health in the future. Their food preferences might be impacted based on what you included in your meals during breastfeeding.
Other concerns that may occur due to processed food consumption are obesity as your child grows up. This may occur due to the excess fat and sugar that is artificially added to the foods. Processed foods that should be avoided are bacon, margarine, white bread, candy bars, French fries, sugary drinks, and sweetened desserts.
Fishes High in Mercury
High mercury is a toxic metal that can be found in seafood. Fishes with high mercury can appear in breast milk. The neurological development of a baby is likely to be hampered if there is high mercury present in breast milk. It may also result in a child experiencing mercury poisoning.
Fishes are an important part of the diet when trying to increase breast milk, but for your knowledge, remember not to eat- bigeye tuna, mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, swordfish, tilefish, and mackerel.
The consumption of these fishes can put an impact on a child’s nervous system. Eventually hampering cognition, language development, awareness of visuals, and even general motor skills.
A Few Herbal Supplements
The popularity of herbal tea and other supplements is widely spread around the world. People often do not even do their research when they intake herbal food items, as there is an invisible belief that all herbal foods are beneficial. It is not wrong; neither is it right.
As a breastfeeding woman, you must know the ingredients that go into your herbal supplement. If the supplement you are taking is not approved by your medical professional and is mere advice from a fellow new mother, you must make sure you seek professional advice before you put those in your system.
Herbal supplements that might not even contain beneficial nutrients, hide under the reputation the word “herbal” has overall earned in the world.
Similar to caffeine and alcohol, foods with spices also turn up in your breast milk. The taste, texture, and color also change. A baby may face issues in their stomach if breast milk contains spice even the amount of a dash.
Their stomach will remain upset for days and they will fuss overall. General spices do not harm, however, pepper in excessive amounts will. Monitor what is being put in your food for the sake of clean breast milk production.
How Can You Increase Breast Milk Production Naturally?
Besides having healthy food habits and adding important nutrients to your daily diet, there are natural ways to generate the breastmilk supply. These methods have worked for mothers for many years when there were not too many medications or supplements invented.
These natural methods are more likely to work besides healthy food habits in comparison to contemporary practices and supplements. Here are a few ways to increase breast milk flow naturally-
Assess How Your Child Is Latching
Latching is how during breastfeeding, a child fastens onto his mother’s breast. If you can evaluate how your child is attaching himself during feeding, you will then know that the milk flow is good. It means, your child is not having to struggle too much. The abundance of breast milk will always make latching successful.
But how to increase milk production through latching? As your child suckles on, it automatically helps in generating milk supply at a great rate. If the latching continues for a day or two, the chances of your breast milk flow will remain steady as long as your child is feeding and attaching well. Latching helps your body stimulate more milk.
Try to contact your lactation professional. They will let you know how to help your child latch on properly.
Do Not Stop Breastfeeding
Due to the presence of formulas and the breast pain that comes along with heavy milk flow, mothers often stop feeding their babies. It is understandable, however, it is essential to understand that a mother’s milk is the most nutritious for a child’s initial growth. There are benefits of breastfeeding, even for your health.
But our focus is on how stopping breastfeeding might also stop the flow of breast milk. If you pause for a day or two, without issues of latching difficulty or other health issues, the flow of your milk might decrease slowly.
Your body needs to be reminded that it needs to produce more milk. The fear of breast pain being tremendous pushes mothers to slowly stop breastfeeding. But then it might be hard to get back to milk production if your child needs it.
For an older child of 1 and a half years, you can increase the time of breastfeeding to increase the supply of breast milk even more. Infants or babies under the age of 6 months tend to drink little amounts but throughout the day. This means you need a constant flow of milk and supply according to your child’s demand. Thus, try not to stop breastfeeding.
The Breast Compression Technique: Stimulation and Pumping
Breast compression is a technique where you can massage and gently try to squeeze the breast during breastfeeding. It helps generate the flow more if your child is not being able to latch. It helps your child to attach and drink. The compression puts pressure on your milk glands, slowly increasing the supply of milk.
You can massage your breast before feeding time. You may also use a breast pump during the times your baby is not latching or when you are producing some milk but your child is currently full. You can pump and save it. The pumping also helps generate more milk as that is an artificial technique that works similar to latching.
Stimulation by hand is a method of squeezing milk by your hand. It has proven great for some mothers while it may be painful for others who are experiencing pain in their breasts. Stimulation by hand is not costly as it is a very natural method. During the first few days of feeding, hand stimulation is encouraged over pumping.
Even though it is one of the best methods, nevertheless, it is a hard technique if you do not feel comfortable with it.
Breastfeeding on Both Breasts
To maintain a good supply of milk, try feeding on both breasts. Breast milk production gets more stimulation as you alternate breasts while feeding.
The common problem faced by mothers when they do not follow this technique is the enlargement of a breast compared to the other. It occurs due to the feeding from only one breast where only that breast gets stimulation.
Start slowly and try to maintain feeding from both breasts. As time goes, you will be able to produce a similar if not equal quantity of breast milk.
Let Your Baby Rest Enough
The most common practice is feeding your child by waking them up every three hours. As recommended as it is in the initial days, as a week passes, slowly try to let your baby rest.
If they are rested, they will wake up without feeling drowsy. The hunger that will strike them will make them eager to suckle on, helping you stimulate milk for greater supply. This method works well for new mothers.
As important as it is to feed your child from time to time, it is important to let them sleep well. The more they demand it when they are active, the better they will latch on and help generate a natural flow of breast milk.
Try Your Best to Not Stress Over Breastfeeding
Earlier in this article, I mentioned how stress can cause a slow flow of breast milk. The more you worry, you put an impact on your mental health. This impacts worse, even if you have a fantastic dietary plan. If you are not producing enough milk for your child yet, be patient, infants take time to latch. As soon as they do, it usually works fine then onwards.
Stay positive. If your child is happy and not fussing and you are being able to feed alright, then there is nothing to worry about. Consult your lactation expert and ask as many questions as needed regarding your fears and worries. Keep your mind calm.
Motherhood is a process that needs patience. As new mothers, fearing your ability to produce enough milk for your child is common. All you need to do is try and maintain the advice I have put down in this article. List down what foods help produce breast milk and create a diet plan accordingly.
I hope you can find a solution from among the information I’ve provided in this article. You will surely be able to establish a way to be able to increase the production of breast milk for your baby!