As the saying goes, “you are what you eat.” Breast milk is the ultimate source of nutrition for your baby, but what about your own nutrition? Whether you’re nourishing your body to begin breastfeeding, or hoping to refuel your body to improve your nursing success, a balanced diet is vital for lactating mothers.
If you’re unsure what foods to eat to help increase breast milk supply or what to eat during breastfeeding, we’re here to help. Read on to discover the best, most nutrient-rich foods for breastfeeding mums!
8 Superfoods for Breastfeeding Mums
Oats are an excellent source of nutrients such as fibre, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Low levels of iron are commonly said to reduce the body’s breast milk supply; thus the high iron content of oats is highly beneficial for mums. Oats can easily be incorporated into your diet — warm oatmeal made of wholegrain rolled oats for breakfast and oat milk in your coffee, for example.
Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are high in protein, fibre, and omega-3 fatty acids. They contain phytoestrogens, meaning they have estrogenic properties that can help increase breast milk production. Try adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into your breakfast cereal, smoothies and yoghurt, or mix a few tablespoons of flaxseed into your home-baked desserts.
3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a rich source of fibre, protein, calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. They aid in digestion and help you feel full and satisfied for longer — staving away those hunger pangs!
4. Fennel Seeds
Fennel is widely believed to be a galactagogue, or a type of food you can eat to increase breast milk supply. It’s thought to increase prolactin levels (the hormone that increases breast milk supply production), which in turn increases milk volume.
5. Brewer's Yeast
Brewer’s yeast contains highly digestible proteins, minerals, vitamin B, amino acids, and chromium, all of which encourages a healthy breast milk supply. It also boosts energy levels and mood, which help new mums overcome baby blues. You’ll often find brewer’s yeast in powder form at grocery stores. It has a savoury, almost cheesy taste and can easily be sprinkled into dishes to enhance its flavour.
6. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is famous for its antimicrobial properties. It promotes increased levels of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), strengthening your baby’s immune system and protecting them against infection. Think of it as a daily supplement — consume about 1-3 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil daily. Plus, it can also be used as a natural moisturiser on sore, cracked nipples!
7. Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and leafy green vegetables (e.g. lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage) are key components in any healthy diet. They nourish your body with much-needed vitamins, minerals, and fibre to encourage lactation. Throw in a side of salad to your meals, or swap out snacks and desserts with fresh fruit!
8. Protein-Rich Foods
Did you know that breastfeeding mums need an extra 25 grams of protein each day? Protein is essential in your body’s breast milk supply production process. The protein in your milk is then passed on to your baby to nourish them and support their development. Examples of protein-rich foods are lean meat, eggs, beans, tofu and nuts.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
Knowing what to eat to increase your breast milk supply is essential. However, learning what foods you should avoid when nursing is equally important. While you don’t need to change your diet completely, we recommend cutting down on caffeine and alcohol during breastfeeding. A small amount of caffeine you consume can be transferred to your breast milk. This could potentially affect baby’s sleep, as babies take longer to metabolise caffeine. Try limiting yourself to two cups of coffee or tea at most in a day.
The same goes for alcohol, which can affect your baby’s alertness and intake. Abstaining is your best bet, but an occasional red wine is safe — just wait at least two hours after drinking wine before breastfeeding for it to be cleared out of your system.
Looking for foods to increase your breast milk supply? Why not try our specially formulated lactation treats and bakes for breastfeeding mums! At Marian’s Lactation Boost, we use 11 types of superfood boosters in our products to help mummies build their supply. Browse our online catalogue of nourishing lactation bakes, tea, cold-pressed juice, overnight oats and more.
You are also more than welcome to join our exclusive Lactation Recipe and Breastfeeding Sharing Facebook group! There, you’ll gain access to recipes created and curated by Marian, as well as a community of fellow breastfeeding mummies supporting one another on the breastfeeding journey. See you there!