Breastfeeding is tough—there's a steep learning curve, it can be painful until you figure it all out, it's exhausting, and most worrisome, you might be stressing about your milk supply. Thankfully, if you're breastfeeding, there are some foods you can eat to give your milk supply a boost. Bonus: they are all delicious!
Here are 10 galactagogues, also known as foods that enhance milk production, plus a smoothie recipe you'll want to try, for nursing moms who are trying to add some oomph to their breast milk.
Oats are full of saponins which impact the milk-making hormones produced in the pituitary gland. Enjoy a bowl for breakfast and top with crushed walnuts and dried apricots for added deliciousness.
Alfalfa leaf is an herb that promotes optimal pituitary function and so can help increase milk production. You can sprinkle alfalfa seeds on your salad for easy consumption. It's also available in supplement form.
It's been said that babies enjoy the taste of garlic in breastmilk and so they nurse more when mom eats garlic. By nursing more, milk production is also increased. So go ahead and add just a little more garlic to a favorite dish, no matter what the recipe says.
Its leaves and roots are used in Chinese and Native American cultures for postpartum recovery and to boost milk supply. The leaves and root can be sautéed or eaten raw too. Also, if you enjoy teas, dandelion tea offers an easy way to consume it.
Fennel can be consumed in seed form or as a sautéed vegetable. You can mix it into brown rice or pasta for an easy meal. The phytoestrogens in fennel are believed to promote breast tissue health and lactation, and are the likely the reason why it enhances milk production.
Rich in fiber, folic acid vitamin A, C and K, asparagus is a great vegetable for nursing moms, and also great for boosting supply due to the phytoestrogens and tryptophan in it. Tryptophan is an important amino acid which may stimulate prolactin, which is the milk-making hormone in the breastmilk equation.
6. Brown Rice
Like oatmeal, brown rice is another whole grain that is worth incorporating when it comes to lactation. Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate, which gives mom the energy needed for breastfeeding.
Brown rice has also been associated with increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin helps to regulate mood, appetite and sleep. And because we know that sleep, even when not long in duration for a new mom, contributes to increased prolactin levels.
Papayas have been commonly used in Asia as a galactagogue. Traditionally, it is made into a soup using green (not ripe) papayas. It is thought that the enzymes and phytochemicals in papaya may enhance breast tissue as well as improve lactation.
Papaya has also been used as a natural sedative. The sedating quality may help you relax, and at the same time help with the milk flow process. So in short, a winner to add to your day!
Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and lima beans are often looked to as lactogenic foods. Hummus, which is made from chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil, is a perfect and delicious snack for breastfeeding moms.
It is a complete protein, and the combination of chickpeas and garlic (another galactagogue) makes this food a rich and yummy snack and great choice for nursing moms.
Apricots (especially dried apricots) contain phytoestrogens which help to balance the hormones involved in lactation. Apricots are high in fiber, Vitamin A, C, potassium and calcium.
Calcium-rich dried fruits like figs, apricots, and dates are thought to help with milk production. Apricots, like some other lactogenic foods on this list, also contain tryptophan, which naturally boost prolactin levels.
Barley is also another good lactogenic food. You can make barley water at home to improve milk supply and to keep you hydrated. Simply boil barley in water, then pass through a sieve.
Drink the cooking water warm or at room temperature throughout the day. You can add some fennel for added taste and to boost the drink's lactogenic properties.