Foods to Help Increase your Milk Supply

By Morgan Annandale

Today marks the official start of the month of December, and we all know what that means… more food than we know what to do with! In my home when family is visiting for the holidays, it always means endless Christmas cookies, casseroles, and comfort food. It also brings about a little more stress than usual, and can be a fun and challenging time of the year at the same time.

This time last year when I was breastfeeding my son, Luke, I started to notice a decrease in my milk supply. I believe the stress of the holidays was starting to get to me, and took a physical effect on my body, causing a low milk supply. I didn’t know at the time that stress can negatively affect your milk supply, and what more of a stressful time of the year than the holidays with a new baby. I did some research and quickly realised that with some additions and adjustments to my diet I could increase my milk supply. So, for all you breastfeeding mums out there, listen up and get ready to be greatly pleased with some of the foods and drinks you can indulge in a little more this holiday feasting season.

Dark Beer

Yup, you read that right! Darker beer filled with extra barley and hops (both are galactagogues, which stimulate the hormone prolactin to increase milk supply) is one beverage that is known to increase your milk supply. Specifically, a milk stout is one of the best beers to indulge in while breastfeeding. A milk stout is a stout beer that contains lactose and the beers are usually flavoured like chocolate or coffee, which makes for a tasty dessert drink after holiday dinners. Some milk stouts to check out are:

  • The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout
  • Left Hand Milk Stout
  • Belching Beaver Brewery: Peanut Butter Milk Stout

Though these dark beers and milk stouts are great to enjoy on occasion while breastfeeding, it is also important to be aware that drinking too much alcohol can start to inhibit your milk supply. It is advised to plan accordingly and wait to breastfeed 2-3 hours after you consume any alcohol. If you are worried about drinking any alcohol while breastfeeding there is always the option of finding a non-alcoholic beer rich in barley that will also help increase your milk supply.

Oatmeal

Not only is oatmeal filled with fibre and energy, which helps your digestion and gets you through the day, according to folk wisdom, oats can help mother’s increase their milk supply. Though very little scientific evidence links this food to increased milk supply, it has occurred with so many mothers consistently it has become a common suggestion for mums. Oats are rich in fibre and iron, which makes lactation pros believe it can have beneficial results for breastfeeding mamas. Regardless, having a healthy breakfast in your daily re-tune can’t hurt and maybe it will be the perfect solution for you and your baby; I know it helped me! If you are not a fan of oatmeal in the morning oats can easily be made into yummy cookies and added to smoothie recipes to enjoy throughout the day.

Fenugreek

One of the more common herbs that are found in breastfeeding supplements is known as Fenugreek. Fenugreek is another galactogogue, the same as barley, that helps promote the hormone to increase a mother’s milk supply. You can also get Fenugreek seeds and toss them in your dishes as seasoning; they create a far more pleasant taste when cooked versus eating raw. Fenugreek herb can be purchased to mix into tea as well. Other than helping increase milk supply Fenugreek is said to help reduce internal and external inflammation as well as contain numerous other health benefits! I first heard of Fenugreek while breastfeeding, but it is something that I have worked into my routine diet. To learn more about all the health benefits you can read more here: https://draxe.com/fenugreek/

Garlic

I personally love garlic and use it excessively when cooking just about anything. I never knew before I had a baby that garlic was so beneficial for breastfeeding moms and has so many different health benefits in general!

It is important to note that the strong pungent taste of garlic can adjust the taste of your breast milk and your baby may not enjoy it, but if there is not a difference noticed while feeding, the benefits garlic provides are great for both mum and baby.

Even more than increasing your milk supply, when garlic is passed on to your baby through your milk, your baby’s immunity system will get enhanced due to essential minerals, vitamins, and amino acids contained in garlic. Additionally, garlic aids in your body’s digestion, improves heart health, has anti-infective properties, and anti-fungal properties. One of my favorite ways to enjoy some extra garlic is making homemade garlic bread with minced garlic and butter melted on toast. Pairs perfect with family spaghetti night!

Lots of Veggies: Spinach, Beet Leaves, Carrots, and Asparagus

Though not as exciting, or surprising, as having beer to increase your milk supply, it is important to balance out your diet and eat some vegetables that can help increase your milk. Spinach and beet leaves both contain iron, calcium, and folic acids, which are great for mothers with an iron deficiency. They both also have detoxifying agents and are a great mixture in soups, smoothies, or on top of a pizza! It is important to know that spinach should be eaten in moderation, too much can potentially cause diarrhoea in your baby. Carrots, as we know, are full of vitamin A and also contain lactation promoting qualities. Carrots are also an easy addition to any diet since it is quick to eat with some ranch dressing as a snack, pureed into soup for dinner, or juiced or blended in a smoothie for breakfast. Asparagus is another veggie high in vitamin A and K and is high in fibre and helps stimulate hormones in breastfeeding mums. Better yet, asparagus is the easiest and perfect side dish to any dinner!

Things to Avoid

There are some food items you may want to avoid while breastfeeding. The below listed items have been known to have an adverse affect on breastfeeding:

  • Potatoes
  • Mangos
  • Bananas
  • Thyme
  • Peppermint
  • Parsley
  • Cabbage leaves

All in Moderation…

It is important to have a healthy diet while breastfeeding and be more aware of what is going into your body, and eventually into your baby’s. However, it is also important not to be hyperactive over your diet. Everything in moderation as they say! Additionally, it is common for mothers to think they are not producing enough milk, when in fact they are producing the normal amount. If you are ever concerned that you are not producing enough milk or there are other symptoms occurring that affect you feeding, you should always consult your doctor or a lactation consultant.