One of the main benefits of breast feeding is that it gives you immense time to bond well with your baby. A bonding that is unexplained & irreplaceable. Make the most of this time. Because, soon time will fly. Your little infant will soon grow up to be a naughty kid spending most of time at school; and you will surely miss these moments of looking at each other and exchanging sweet little smiles. So cherish every moment spent with your little one. Go ahead & read the Top 15 foods that increase breast milk production.
You can also read on the Benefits of Breast-Feeding.
How To Boost Breast Milk Production
The best way to boost production of milk is undoubtedly to keep nursing your baby. The more your baby nurses the more your body produces milk. Every mother wants to render the best possible nutrition to her baby. She is constantly worried about the insufficient milk production when she sees her baby crying all night. But, it is not necessarily not due to low milk supply. It might be due to colic pain, an infection or mild pain in any part of the body. However, if your pediatrician confirms that your baby needs to be introduced to formula foods, worry not. Feed your baby with healthy foods to build a strong immunity in it’s formative years.
You can also read on the Best Breast Pumps In India.
How Does Lactation Occur?
As your infant nurses on your milk, the act of sucking sends a signal to the brain to release oxytocin (a hormone that releases milk). This hormone flows through the blood vessels to reach the mother’s breast. Then, prolactin causes the milk to release through the breasts.
Foods that promote milk production are called “Galactagogues”. These vegetarian lactogens listed below are tried & tested and works well with most women. Since they are easily available at home, they are absolutely safe for consumption.
- Water – When you are breast-feeding your child, it is a pre-requisite to be well hydrated. Drinking atleast 2litres of water everyday helps boost production of milk. As it comprises of 90% water, you need to consume more water especially during summers. It is obviously easy to overlook the importance of drinking water as you maybe busy with your chores & taking care of your baby’s essential needs.
- Garlic – It is an age-old tradition to introduce garlic in the meal plan everyday. Apart from the tremendous health benefits like boosting the immunity for the mother & child, garlic can also cure various diseases like cancer & infections. 2-4 pieces/pods of Garlic can help boost milk production. You can use it in side dishes/curries, rice, rasam and soups.
Note: If your child is suffering from Colic, you should avoid garlic.
- Cumin Seeds & Carom Seeds – Calcium rich cumin seeds (jeera) aids in digestion, boosting immunity & prevents bloating & constipation. Cumin seeds form an integral part of Indian curries adding great taste, aroma & flavour. You can use it in making sundal, curries/side dishes, in rotis or snacks. 1 tbsp of Cumin seeds should suffice the daily intake to increase lactation. “Carom Seeds” or “Ajwain” is also a fantastic herb that helps in relieving gastric trouble by boosting digestion in both mother & baby. It can be soaked overnight & consumed on empty stomach early morning or can be put in parathas or curries. 1-2 tsp a day is normally recommended to boost breast milk production.
- GLV’s – Green Leafy Veggies like fenugreek leaves (methi), drumstick leaves(morangi), spinach (palak), broccoli, kale, beet leaves are packed with calcium, vitamins, folate & iron that stimulate milk production. Ensure this is a part of your daily diet. The greens are great anti-oxidants that help to strengthen your baby, fight anemia & also prevent cancer. Beware too much spinach can cause diarrhea in your infant. You can also sun dry these leaves and store for ease of use in your daily food. Eg. Sun dried drumstick leaves can be stored for over 3 weeks. You can add it to your parathas or curries.
- Oats – Fibre rich oats not only helps knock off those extra calories but also lowers cholesterol & blood pressure & helps in stimulating the production of milk. You can add almonds, raisins & walnuts to add to the taste. Make oats porridge, oats cookies or oats dosa to make your meal healthier. Add a dash of pumpkin seeds & flax seeds to make your meal a “Super Meal” packed with goodness of proteins & essential nutrients. Roasted pumpkin seeds can be consumed as an evening snack, in salads, breads or energy bars.
- Carrots – Satisfy your hunger pangs by munching on potassium rich carrots. Carrots are high in alpha & beta-carotene & Vitamin A. Eating frequent healthy snacks also helps in shedding the baby fat that has been accumulating over the last 9 months. Carrot juice is a great detox on empty stomach, besides using them in your normal cuisine.
- Nuts / Dry Fruits – A lactating mother can indulge in binge eating when she is stressed about juggling between the house chores, nursing her baby & career. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, munakka(sultana currants) soaked in water, dates & macadamia are excellent sources of anti-oxidants & good carbohydrates that are satiating. The amino acid rich nuts foster the production of serotonin in the mammary glands, which is essential for the neurotransmission while nursing. Almonds contain Vitamin E (helps in reducing post pregnancy stretch marks) & Omega-3 (which is a must for vegetarians) making them great snacking options or as flavouring substances in milk, milkshakes & sweets.
- Chia Seeds & Poppy Seeds – Chia seeds are rich in protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids which help boost baby’s brain development. Poppy Seeds help in calming & destressing the mother. Poppy Seeds are used in desserts, garnishing the bread & salads. Chia seeds can also be used in bread or mixed with curd – they aid in digestion & constipation.
Note: Both Chia Seeds & Poppoy seeds should be consumed only 1 tsp a day as they elevate body heat.
- Sesame Seeds – It’s time to make the delicious Til (sesame seeds) ke ladoo & chikki as these seeds are rich in calcium & are great natural lactating supplements. There are two variants – Black & White Sesame Seeds which hold high nutrition value. Besides laddoo, Sesame seeds can also be used salads, desserts and preparation of hummus.
- Gourds – Bottle gourd and Ridge gourd are light on the stomach as they comprise of water and fibre. Lauki or bottle gourd with high water content will keep you hydrated & control glucose level in your body. It is easy on the stomach & helps in lactation. Indian households use this vegetables to make side dishes with onion & tomato. Lauki is also good to keep knee pain & BP at bay. BitterGourd is also another vegetable which is consumed to keep Diabetes at bay as it lowers blood glucose levels & acts as a great detox for the body. Bittergourd juice along with bottle gourd is the perfect combo to shed excess weight & promote lactation in women.
- Legumes or Daals – Daals form an integral part of the Indian cuisine. Chickpeas for example is pumped with calcium, vitamins & fibre. Sprouted legumes tossed with raw veggies like tomato, onion & cucumber serve as fantastic snacking options. Legumes are power houses of potassium, zinc, dietary fiber, lean protein and iron. Masoor dal, soya beans, black-eyed beans are great picks.
- Fenugreek Seeds – Methi or Fenugreek seeds are packed with iron, vitamins & protein. Soak them in water for few hours before consuming the same. You should consult your doctor if you have hypoglycemia, any allergies, asthma or hypothyroidism before consuming fenugreek seeds. They also aid in improving the texture of your hair. Methi seeds soaked overnight helps expedite weight loss & keeps cholestrol & BP in check.
- Desi Ghee / Oil – Yes, You heard it right. If you are traumatized with your weight gain during pregnancy, do not refrain from consuming desi ghee or oil. Incorporate the healthier ones like olive oil, coconut oil & ghee. Avoid canola oil, palm oil & corn oil which will add to the bad cholesterol. Fatty food is almost as important as fibre in your diet. It works like oil for machinery (ensures smooth running of the body organs). But, ofcourse, in limited quantities.
- Fennel Seeds – Saunf or fennel seeds are often offered as a post dinner delicacy & mouth freshener to aid digestion and also prevents bloating of stomach due to the formation of gas. The phytoestrogens in fennel seeds acts as a good galactogogue when taken in limited quantities. You can also accompany them with dill seeds (sua) which also promote digestion. It’s definitely among the Top 15 foods that increase breast milk production.
- Drumstick – It is a power house of calcium & iron which helps in strengthening the bones & nervous system. Drumstick leaves, veggie & flowers are all very nutritious that can be had as a main dish an accompaniment with your roti or rice.
- Sweet Potato – These are packed with Vitamin A & B Complex. An average sweet potato has about 1400 mcg of Vitamin A which boosts the milk production & regulates hormonal imbalance if your are stressed out with the post-partum depression. Poriyals, soups, puddings, curries are common ways you can use sweet potato in your diet & your infants/toddler’s diet.
- Ginger – Ginger is a “super food” that helps in curing common cold, cough, vomiting & other infections. Ginger promotes digestion and boosts the breast milk production in new-mommies. Ginger teas, cookies and curries are the best way of incorporating “adrak” in your diet.
- Dates – Artificially unsweetened dates work wonders to revive your RBC’s after the blodd loss during delivery. Calcium, potassium, vitamin & iron rich, dates are naturally sweet – indulge guilt-free to satisfy your mid-meal hunger pangs. Dates are used in desserts, syrups, puddings & burfis. Black unsweetened dates are the favourite among women.
- Avocados & Apricots – Avocados are superfoods for pregnant & lactating women. Packed with “good” calories, this fruit makes up for the loss of energy & “good fat” caused due to frequent nursing sessions. Apricots, can be consumed fresh or dried as a snack if you have a sweet tooth. They can be pureed and used as a spread on bread or in desserts.
Foods to avoid while breast-feeding
While there is an extensive list of foods to be included in your post pregnancy diet, there are also certain foods that are best avoidable. These foods are gaseous by nature that can cause flatulence and discomfort. Avoid foods like cauliflower, cabbage, potato, raw banana (or unripe banana), raw mango (or unripe mango), coffee & alcohol.
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