Foods to Increase Breast Milk Supply – Lactation Enriching Foods
In order to produce breast milk for mothers who breastfeed, two main hormones are needed namely prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin produces milk while oxytocin stimulates milk production. Breast milk production is accomplished through the release of hormones from the pituitary glands. Nursing causes the release of hormones from the pituitary glands which stimulate lactation. The hormones involves are:
Oxytocin: The oxytocin causes the cells to the mammary glands to contract, thereby releasing milk. Oxytocin released by thinking about baby and stimulation of breast. Oxytocin stimulates the myoepithelial cells of the ductile system to contract ejecting the milk into a sucking infant’s mouth.
Prolactin: As the baby suckles, impulses pass from the areola up to the hypothalmus then to the anterior pituitary producing prolactin which stimulates the breasts to produce milk. Prolactin stimulates the mammary glands to secrete large quantities of milk. This effect doesn’t occur for 2 to 3 days following birth, and during this time the glands secrete thin watery fluid called colostrums.
The Roles of Prolactin and Oxytocin:
Suckling stimulates nerves in the nipple and areola that travel to the hypothalamus. In response, the hypothalamus stimulates the posterior pituitary to release oxytocin and the anterior pituitary to release prolactin. Oxytocin stimulates lobules in the breast to let down milk from storage. Prolactin stimulates additional milk production. There are some foods that enhance the production of breast milk and a few are listed below.
What to Eat to Increase Breast Milk Supply:
Fenugreek Seeds: Fenugreek is a common herb for increasing breast milk production. You can buy it in tea or capsule form. It will generally increase milk supply within a few days. Fenugreek seeds are rich in iron, calcium, vitamins and minerals, Dysgenic; a key compound found in fenugreek seeds has been proven to increase breast milk production. Soak the seeds overnight and have it with 1 glass warm water every morning.
Ginger Root: Ginger is not only an overall blood tonic for the body, but it has also been shown to be helpful in aiding milk let-down and increasing flow. A highly antiemetic that helps to relieve the symptoms of nausea and morning sickness. Add a couple of slices of fresh ginger root to a cup of water and sip as required.
Raspberry Leaf: It not only helps to produce milk, but it also will help the uterus recover after birth, as it a uterine toner. Red raspberry leaf is incredibly high in vitamins and minerals. A uterine tonic that helps to prepare the body for childbirth. Drink the infusion daily during the last trimester of pregnancy (not suitable during early pregnancy). Continue drinking it for 2 to 3 weeks after the birth to help contract the muscles and promote breast milk.
Fennel Seeds: Fennel seeds are also milk inducing foods. These will not only increase the supply of the milk but also will help to improve the digestion of the mother as well as the child. Soak the fennel seeds overnight and drain the water. Boil the seeds, strain the water and drink it warm. Fennel seeds are great for increasing breast milk production, and at the same time is also extremely helpful in relieving symptoms of gas and upset stomach.
Chamomile Tea: During breastfeeding, chamomile tea is a safe herb for both you and your baby. Chamomile tea is popular for its soothing effects and brings relief from stomach cramp or severe headache. If you are suffering from excessive stress or restlessness, the chamomile herbal tea can keep you calm and relaxed. A versatile and gentle everyday herb that is calming and soothing to the nerves and digestion. Drink a cup of infusion to relieve morning sickness, stress and tensions, to aid relaxation before going to sleep, and as an aid to the digestion.
Garlic: It is an excellent galactagogue which helps to stimulate the lactation process. Garlic has been used for many years as an herbal treatment to stimulate breast milk production and increase milk supply. Garlic can be included in the meals, curries. It can also be used with water.
Barley Water: Consuming barley water is a traditional age-old method to improve milk supply. It helps to treat those mothers with chronic low milk supply. Soak the barley seeds in water for three-four hours and drain the water or boil the seeds in water for a few minutes before drinking it.
Basil (Tulsi): Basil helps to increase breast milk production. Tulsi is a bitter herb which means its beneficial for the digestive system as well. This herb tends to work for women who don’t get the expected results with fenugreek.
Dill: The seeds make an excellent infusion to drink during breast-feeding, as dill helps to promote the breast-milk and also relieves any colic or wind in the baby, may be combined with fennel seeds.
Also Read: How to Breastfeed Newborn
Alfalfa Sprouts: Alfalfa sprouts are highly nutritious and rich in vitamins and minerals. These can be consumed as a boiled salad.
Sesame Seeds: Sesame seeds are an excellent source of calcium and magnesium. It helps the mother to nurse her child better. Sesame seeds can be consumed in the form of sweets, curries or as it is with water.
Garden Cress Seeds: These are an important source of iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamins C, E and A. because of its high iron and protein content, it is often given to lactating mothers. The seeds are high in calories and protein, whereas the leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, C and foliate. It can be had ever day early morning with one glass warm water.
Asparagus: This is high in fiber, folic acid, calcium, vitamin A and K. therefore, it is a super food for nursing mothers. Asparagus can be had in a powder form or just as it is herb.
Avocados: Avocados are high in essential fatty acids. These fatty acids have been said to help produce richer breast milk.
Nuts: Nuts are a quick grab and excellent to get extra protein into your diet and to boost breast milk supply. Just watch for any rashes and hives on your baby, which may indicate a nut allergy.
Lactation Cookies: Lactation cookies are a mom’s best friend. The key to this recipe is oats and brewer’s yeast. You will find a number of great recipes online.
Apricots: Apricots have certain chemicals which balance out the hormone levels in your body. They are rich in calcium and fiber.
Marshmallow Root: Marshmallow root is a galactagogue that it can increase milk supply. Marshmallow root is usually combined with fennel seed, alfalfa or blessed thistle to encourage milk production.
Foods That May Affect You and Baby While Breastfeeding:
Coffee: Coffee can pass caffeine along to your little one, which may leave them irritated, cranky, and restless.
Spicy Foods: Spicy foods may affect your baby and leave them irritated and fussy. If you notice this after eating spicy foods, its best to nix it.
Citrus Foods: Citrus fruits and juices may irritate your baby’s sensitive GI tract. This may lead to fussiness, spitting up, and even diaper rash.
Peppermint: Peppermint in high doses is known to inhibit milk production. Don’t go too crazy, unless you are ready to dry up your milk supply.
Parsley: Parsley may reduce your milk supply if ingested in large quantities. Small doses shouldn’t do any harm, though.