Do you know which foods increase breast milk supply? Do you know that some foods will also can decrease your supply? If you are breastfeeding and having trouble with low milk supply or oversupply, you may want to look at what you are eating and drinking. What you eat does affect your breast milk supply.
How What You Eat Affects Your Breast Milk
It’s common to hear pregnant women state that they can’t wait to deliver so that they can drink alcohol or enjoy foods that they don’t tolerate well while pregnant. The problem for breastfeeding mothers is that the food consumed even after delivery has a direct impact on the production of breast milk and the nutritional makeup of the milk.
Keep reading to learn how your dietary choices may impact your breastfeeding goals. You may have to wait just a little longer to set yourself free and eat whatever you want. Of course, this is also an opportunity to permanently change your diet for your own better health as well as for your baby.
Caloric Intake & Your Breast Milk
Research into the number of calories that a breastfeeding mother should consume has been ongoing for decades not just for moms looking for which foods increase breast milk. For instance, one study published in 1975 tracked a small sample of breastfeeding mothers to determine how much weight the mothers and babies gained at different levels of caloric research. The mothers were not told to alter their caloric intake according to any guidelines, and some of the mothers were even dieting in an attempt to lose weight.
The results of this study revealed the following information:
- Breastfeeding mothers were able to lose weight without dramatically restricting their caloric intake.
- Mothers who did restrict calories for their own weight loss quickly experienced decreases in milk supply, and their babies didn’t experience the growth that other babies enjoyed.
- The most successful breastfeeding mothers in terms of the baby’s weight gain and health were the mothers who consumed more calories. Mothers of babies with less successful weight gain consumed fewer calories.
- Successful breastfeeding mothers increased their caloric consumption by up to 50%.
This stresses the importance of eating more calories in order to keep your milk supply strong. If you choose healthy foods with lots of nutrients, you will also increase the nutritional value of your breast milk while enjoying the food that you consume. Breastfeeding isn’t compatible with low-calorie diets for weight loss, but that doesn’t mean that you will gain weight while breastfeeding.
In general, it is recommended that breastfeeding mothers consume around 500 calories more than they would otherwise consume each day. In the study that we just discussed, some of the most successful breastfeeding mothers consumed around 650 more calories per day than the less successful breastfeeding mothers.
Make those extra calories as nutritious as possible. For instance, you don’t want to drink your calories because sugary drinks can promote weight gain and add no nutritional value to your milk. You also need to consume more water in order to make that healthy milk for your little one.
Related Article> Top 10 Ways to Increase Breast Milk Supply Quickly
What About Protein?
When determining which foods increase breast milk, foods with protein become vital. Protein is essential to the development and health of every cell in the human body. Babies need it to fully develop and grow while it can help mothers develop strong muscles and get back to a healthy body weight. Researchers generally recommend that mothers increase their protein intake by about 20 grams per day, but you may need a more dramatic increase if you weren’t consuming a lot of healthy protein prior to getting pregnant.
If you aren’t sure exactly how much protein you were consuming prior to pregnancy, you’re not alone. It’s generally recommended that you consume about 71 grams of protein each day. This is a more practical guideline for most new mothers to follow because it isn’t based on an increase in pre-pregnancy protein.
Foods Increase Breast Milk and Promote Lactation
A nourishing diet that promotes healthy lactation generally reflects the well-balanced diet that is recommended for any other stage in life. You may just need more protein, and the nutrient content of your food choices is even more critical. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most lactation-friendly foods.
We already discussed the importance of protein, but what foods should you eat to get those extra grams each day? You don’t have to think outside of the box here. Any type of milk will work, and you can always go with lean meats like chicken, turkey, steak, and lean sirloin.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Spinach is one of the most powerful leaves that you can consume while breastfeeding, and beet leaves are also a good pick. These leaves are loaded with nutrients and vitamins that your baby needs to grow, and they have detoxifying components. Look for mixes of fresh greens for salads and soups, and keep the baby spinach on hand to elevate sandwiches loaded with your favorite protein.
Carrots are believed to support lactation, and many other roots will have the same impact. They’re easy to grab and perfect for snacking.
Fennugreek and fennel seeds are some of the best options for boosting milk supply and nourishing mother and baby. Fennel is also believed to soothe colicky babies. Black sesame seeds are another good option for lactation support, but don’t go overboard with these.
Garlic is believed to help stimulate milk production, and you can’t go wrong by adding onion and other herbs and spices to your food. This is a great way to add flavor without calorie-rich sauces, so it may also help with weight loss without significantly altering your caloric intake.
Get some of those extra calories from barley and brown rice to boost your nutrient intake while enjoying healthy carbs that will keep your stomach full and satisfied. You’ll benefit from enhanced milk supply as well.
Want more ideas? There is a great list of supply-boosting foods in this article: 30 Foods That Increase Milk Supply
Foods that Can Slow Breast Milk Production
You now know what to eat in order to support your lactation goals, but there are also some foods that you should avoid. While most of these are most damaging in large quantities, it’s important that every breastfeeding mother is aware of their potential to sabotage milk production:
- Alcoholic beverages
It’s commonly believed that beer and other alcohol will promote lactation, but that’s not true for most mothers. Many of the foods on this list are commonly consumed as teas, but you don’t want to go that route while breastfeeding. This is especially true of sage tea, which is sometimes used to slow milk production for women who are producing too much milk.
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