As if there wasn’t enough stress and anxiety around being a new mom, if you choose to breastfeed, there is even more you might worry about: Is my body producing enough? How much does my baby eat? Does my little one know how to latch? Can I help my body produce more milk? I recommend talking with a lactation consultant if you are struggling with your milk production or want to learn more about breastfeeding in general, however, as a mama who breastfed my little one for 15.5 months, I can offer some insight!
My biggest concern when deciding to breastfeed my little one, was how my body would do with it. What if I couldn’t produce enough? How do I even know if I am producing enough? My baby was satisfied after each meal, going to the bathroom enough, and never turned away when I offered to nurse. I guess my body was doing what I needed it to do, but I was always looking for ways to increase my production. My goal was to make enough to breastfeed on demand as needed, as well as have a small stash in the freezer for the occasional bottles or times I was away from my baby.
There are supplements you can try, you can also do things like pump immediately after each feed, power pump, or you can add certain food to your diet that helps with lactation. Here is a list of food choices that help with milk production in breastfeeding women:
- OATS: This was one of the first foods I added to my diet in any way I could. I ate oatmeal topped with berries for breakfast, added oatmeal to smoothies or pancakes, and even made oatmeal lactation cookies or treats.
- BREWER’S YEAST: This is an ingredient people consume outside of breastfeeding as it is high in protein, iron and vitamins, but it also always makes an appearance on any list regarding breastfeeding. I can’t say for sure the brewer’s yeast itself helped my milk production, but I did add it to cookies (along with some oats) and baked with it when possible, and never had an issue with my supply.
Use oats and Brewer’s Yeast to make some delicious treats for yourself, think of it like a reward for all you are doing for your baby! Some good ones include:
I am sure you won’t have time to bake these recipes as a new mama, so either bake ahead of time and freeze, or pass along a recipe to a family member who is looking to help you in any way they can!
Continuing with our list of foods to help boost your supply:
- Body Armour: One of the most important pieces of advice I can give, if you are a breastfeeding mama looking to increase or even to just keep up with your supply, is to STAY HYDRATED! Breastmilk is primarily water, and you need to drink enough water to sustain both you and your milk. I found Body Armor really did the trick in helping my milk supply. It hydrated me quickly, tasted good, and I noticed an increase in supply after drinking them. I would drink a Body Armor or two anytime I needed to build up a stash to have on hand. If you don’t love sports drinks, or don’t want the added sugar, then boost your water intake significantly.
- Avocado: High in vitamins and fat, avocados are a great nutritional addition to your diet if you are a breastfeeding mama. There is no magic food or pill when it comes to increasing your milk supply, but eating an all around healthy diet will certainly help. Avocados are a great place to start, eat them on their own, add to toast, or put in a salad, however you choose to do it, as long as you are doing it!
- Nuts and Seeds: Nuts are a great choice for a snack even when not breastfeeding, but their high iron and vitamin count also make them a great choice while breastfeeding. Grab some mixed nuts or trail mix to keep near your pumping station, so as you pump you can also snack on something healthy. Chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds are another nutritious addition to your diet to help in milk production. Add these seeds to a favorite recipe or smoothie, you can even include them in the recipes above. There are health benefits from a variety of seeds, that go beyond lactation, that also make these a nutritious option to keep in your diet for good!
- High Protein Foods: The key to healthy milk supply is a healthy diet. Eat foods that are high in protein, as well as other vitamins and minerals, and you may begin to notice an increase in production. Some options for high protein foods include lean meats, beans or legumes, eggs, even the nuts and seeds listed above. Aim for high protein foods at each meal, and pair it with healthy sides to create a well balanced meal for both you and your milk! You won’t have time to cook as a new mama, it’s almost like a rite of passage really – the stained shirts, messy buns, bags under eyes, etc. so prep some high protein meals ahead of time to keep in the freezer. It is easier to cook or reheat a frozen meal, then it is to cook a meal from scratch in those first few months.
- Green Leafy Vegetables: Similar with the high protein foods, the green leafy vegetables are a great choice to eat all throughout pregnancy, but especially important postpartum and breastfeeding. Green leafy vegetables might include spinach, kale, even broccoli. Just as you would aim to “eat the rainbow” before pregnancy, making sure to include those green veggies, do the same now. Add spinach and kale to a smoothie, or pancakes, prepare broccoli in a freezer meal or two so you can easily reheat when needed. Continue with the healthy meals postpartum, and your milk production will thank you.
Just as a healthy, nutritious, well rounded diet was important before pregnancy, it is equally as important now, in the postpartum stage. You will learn as you begin this breastfeeding journey, what food and drinks affect your supply, and you’ll be able to manipulate your production a little bit. I hope you find something here that works for you and your supply, as I know how stressful it can be as a new mama, doing everything you can to feed your baby.
At the end of the day, fed is best, and your baby doesn’t care where the food comes from, as long as they get it. Try to keep your stress levels low, but if you find you are really struggling with breastfeeding, talk with a lactation consultant for some professional advice. Motherhood is a roller coaster, learn to be flexible with all of the ups and downs it is about to bring your way, Mama!