Foods that can improve your milk supply
Congratulations on your new baby and your decision to breastfeed. Breast milk is the only nutrition that your baby will need for the next several months. Breastfeeding allows you to provide your baby with a lot of natural immunity from your body, and also provides an opportunity for you to bond with your new baby.
Breastfeeding is not just good for your baby it is also good for you. Breastfeeding may help you to lose your pregnancy weight faster because it is a metabolic process and it burns calories. Breastfeeding reduces your chances of getting breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer. Breastfeeding also reduces the chance of you developing osteoporosis. Breastfeeding also reduces your risk of developing postpartum depression and it saves you money.
Now that you know some of the benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your newborn let’s talk about milk supply. Your milk supply will fluctuate based on how often you nurse, your baby’s growth spurts, your stress level, and your health. Some women struggle to get their milk supply up high enough to satisfy their baby and there are some things you can do to combat this.
Certain foods are known to help nursing mothers boost their milk supply. Foods that help to boost your milk supply are called lactogenic. One of the best known lactogenic foods is oatmeal. Oatmeal helps to increase your milk supply and it is really good for you. Oatmeal is known to reduce cholesterol and to help maintain a healthy blood pressure. You do not just have to eat oatmeal in its breakfast cereal form because it is still effective even if you eat it in the form of an oatmeal cookie.
Carrots are another food that you can eat to help give your milk supply a boost. Carrots are full of vitamin A which is great for breastfeeding moms. You can absolutely just eat carrots, but some women claim to experience a real boost in their supply from drinking carrot juice. Vitamin A will also give you a boost of energy which can be important to new moms operating on very little sleep.
Papaya is another food that is thought to help boost your milk supply. Although the lactogenic properties of papaya have not been well studied it is thought that the phytochemicals and enzymes found in papaya improve lactation and enhance breast tissue. Papaya has also been used for its sedating qualities which can help new moms relax and help with the milk let-down reflex.
Spinach is another food that can help to increase your milk supply in addition to providing you with important vitamins and minerals that you need. Spinach is an excellent source of Folate, vitamin K, and vitamin A. Folate or folic acid is an extremely important nutrient for women who are pregnant or breast feeding. Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, collards, and kale contain a plant based chemical called phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens promote breast health and lactation and perform similarly to the hormone estrogen.
Asparagus is another milk boosting wonder food. Asparagus is high in fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, and it also has phytoestrogens in it. Fiber is an essential component of maintaining a plentiful milk supply. Asparagus also contains an essential amino acid called tryptophan which is thought to stimulate prolactin production. Prolactin is an essential component of milk production.
Legumes are another food that is known to help boost milk production in lactating mothers. Legumes include lentils, lima beans, green beans, and chick peas. Hummus is a natural choice of legumes that breastfeeding moms like to eat because it is simple to prepare and it also contains garlic which is another known lactogenic food. Hummus is a simple mixture of chick peas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and olive oil that serves as a complete protein. Good nutrition is an extremely important part of keeping a good milk supply for your baby.
Apricots and especially dried apricots are full of phytoestrogens. Apricots also contain vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, fiber, and tryptophan. Other dried fruits such as dates and figs also contain calcium which can help to increase your milk supply.
Brown rice is another whole grain food like oatmeal that has been found to increase a nursing mother’s milk supply. Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate which gives you an energy boost, but it also raises the serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is an important mood, appetite, and sleep regulator, but it also stimulates prolactin production which increases your milk production.
Salmon is another food that can help to increase your milk supply because it is high in essential fatty acids and Omega-3 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are a large component of what breast milk is made of so having mom take more in will produce more of them in your milk for the baby.
Breastfeeding is the best thing that you can do for your newborn, but that does not mean that it isn’t hard work. Breastfeeding takes a toll on your body and to produce enough milk you will need excellent nutrition and large quantities of water on a daily basis. Drinking enough water is a huge factor in being able to produce enough milk for your baby. Many women have a hard time producing enough breast milk in the first few weeks and that is completely normal.
If your milk supply is low you can discuss it with your obstetrician and your baby’s pediatrician. You can also make an effort to eat a variety of foods that help to increase milk production. There are also a variety of herbal supplements that you can take to boost your milk production, but you will want to discuss those with your obstetrician and the baby’s pediatrician first.
If you find yourself getting discouraged about breast feeding there are many resources that you can use. From support forums and discussion boards online to your local chapter of the La Leche League there are many people who are more than willing to help you down the road to breast feeding.
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