The Best Foods for Lactating Mothers

Many new mothers worry if their body is producing enough milk that is required to meet the baby’s growing needs. A very small percentage of mothers produce less or no milk at all. In such cases, the mother should seek a proper consultation with the doctor and work upon the reasons because less milk production is a signal for various health syndromes for both the baby and mother.

Best Foods for Lactating Mothers If the baby is not getting enough milk regularly than what he requires, he may fail to gain weight, that may impair both physical and mental development. Your baby could end up losing weight. Sometimes babies may be diagnosed with elevated risks of childhood Obesity, Diabetes, Leukemia, and sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). For mothers, it increases the incidence of pre-menopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained gestational weight gain, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. Therefore, it is very important to breastfeed your baby regularly.

Reasons for less milk production

It is absolutely normal to release few ounces of milk when you start breastfeeding your child. Some reasons for low milk production include poor sucking stimulation by baby or the use of formula supplements or pacifiers on a regular basis, sickness or stress counts. Quantity of milk secretion is connected to medical history also. For example:

  • Hormonal disorders such as thyroid or pituitary imbalances
  • Retained placental growth
  • Breast surgery that lead to damage of milk ducts
  • Moms who have a Cesarean birth may need some extra time to recover before they physically feel like holding and nursing their new baby.
  • Taking a combination of birth control pills which contain both estrogen and progesterone.

Reasons for less milk production Not taking an appropriate diet can also lessen the quantity of milk. However, many mothers are confused about what they should be eating in order to provide the adequate quantity of milk to the baby. In general, the ideal diet of a lactating mother is not that different from a healthy diet and should incorporate fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, protein foods and healthy fats like omega-3.There are many foods that are considered to increase the supply of breast milk(known as lactogenic  orgalactagogues foods). Some of the foods are full of vitamins and minerals and others contain plant-based chemicals (Phytoestrogens: they are believed to have similar properties as of estrogen, thus promoting breast tissue health and lactation). This implies that all foods that a healthy lactating mother eats will help her in increasing the milk in one way or the other.

Lactogenic/ Galactagogues foods

  • Oatmeal: causes body to release oxytocin (a hormone involved in milk production). Oatmeal is also a rich source of calcium and fiber.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is unprocessed rice with only outer-most hull removed. It’s a complex carbohydrate source of energy required at the time of feeding. It increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that stimulates prolactin secretion.
  • Black sesame seeds: They are known to be rich sources of calcium, which helps in increasing milk supply. You can use black sesame seeds in various food preparations like rice and lentil dishes.
  • Red lentils: Pulses are an excellent source of iron, fiber and protein. It also improves the milk supply.
  • Hummus: Food items made up of legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, lima beans or green beans are good sources of calcium and vitamins.
  • Almonds: Many nursing mothers eat almonds or drink almond milk to increase the creaminess, sweetness and amount of their breast milk.Also Read: 8 genius ways to use veggies and boost health

Foods which contain phytoestrogens:

  • Gourd vegetables: Vegetables from the gourd family like bottle gourd, apple gourd and sponge gourd may help improve milk supply.
  • Dark Green Vegetables: Dark green vegetables such as alfalfa, lettuce, kale and broccoli are full of nutrients, especially calcium.
  • Spinach: This green leafy vegetable is a good source of calcium, iron, Vitamin K, A and Folic acid.
  • Carrots: Carrots are high in beta-carotene and Vitamin A. They also provide extra energy needed by lactating women.
  • Beets: The vegetables which are high in beta-carotene such as carrots, sweet potatoes and beetroots are extremely beneficial for the baby and breastfeeding mother.
  • Papaya: Green papaya is a yummy and nutritious fruit that should be included in every lactating mother’s diet. Smoothies or fruits salad preparations are different ways to incorporate this fruit in your diet.
  • Asparagus: High in fiber, folic acid, Vitamins A, C, and K, asparagus is a power-house food for nursing mothers. It comes with advantage of tryptophan, an essential amino acid which may stimulate prolactin (a major hormone involved in lactation) production and subsequently improves milk supply.
  • Apricots: Apricots are high in fiber, Vitamin A, C, potassium and calcium. Calcium-rich dried fruits like figs, apricots, and dates also help with milk production.

Plant seeds:

Dipped in Omega-3

Fats are a key component of breast milk and healthy fats are essential for the production of hormones, which assist in regulating milk production. Salmon, coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil are good source of EFA and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Other Supplements

  • Basil: A great source of vitamin K.
  • Brewer’s Yeast: It contains vitamin B, iron, protein, chromium, selenium, and other minerals. It is used by nursing mothers to help increase energy, get rid of the baby blues and make more breast milk.
  • Nursing Teas:  Nursing teas contain different combinations of herbs such as fenugreek, blessed thistle, milk thistle and fennel that are believed to help increase the supply of breast milk.

Tips for increasing milk supply:

  • Try breastfeeding as many times as possible. This helps in increasing milk production.
  • Avoid formula feeds and commercial milk preparations which hamper milk production.
  • Avoid dummies/pacifiers, nipple shields or bottles, which reduce simulation on nipples.
  • The use of breast compressionor breast pumps helps increase milk flow.
  • Consume more calories because a breastfeeding mother requires more energy.
  • Medical consultation: It is a common practice to get a consultation from a general physician or a lactation consultant. There are certain medications that can be tried which include Domperidone, Fenugreek capsules, Blessed Thistle capsules, and tincture drops.

Apart from making changes in your diet, it is important to keep your body hydrated. Take enough rest and get your full 8 hours of sleep. In order to lead a healthy lifestyle for your baby and yourself, it is crucial to stay from all stress-related issues.

Also Read: 10 Foods That Will Boost Your Immune System

Share this article with any new moms you happen to know. Also, you can use the comment boxes in case you have any health-related queries.

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Amelia Smith

Nutritionist, herbalist, health and medicine writer and yoga enthusiast, Amelia Smith, is a professional in the health, nutrition and diet industry.
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