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Many breastfeeding moms are worried if their baby is getting enough milk. And it is completely understandable especially in the case of first-time moms. If you have concerns about your milk supply, it may be a good idea to see a lactation consultant and learn about the most effective foods to increase milk supply.
However, there are some signs that can indicate if your baby is well-fed or needs more milk. Today, we will talk about these signs shortly, then we dive into the list of milk supply boosting foods.
Before we proceed, I just want to remind you that your body is made to feed your baby! I struggled majorly in the first 6 weeks with feeding my daughter- with a supply that was slow to come in and my daughter not being able to latch properly for the first 3 weeks. In hindsight, I can see that it was all fine. But in the moment, I was a mess and feeling like a failure. The best thing for me was having my mom come visit and assure me that we would figure it out. She just had faith, and since she’d had 5 babies that she fed I figured I could listen 🙂
No matter how hard it seems now, it will get easier with the right support and mindset mama!
How can you know whether your baby is getting enough milk?
If you would like to know whether your baby is getting enough milk, look for the following signs:
- First, your baby sucks rapidly, then changes to long sucks and swallows rhythmically with some pauses.
- You can see and hear how your baby is swallowing the milk.
- The baby is calm and doesn’t force sucking.
- When the baby is well fed, he/she should come off the breast alone.
- Your baby seems satisfied and happy after the feeds.
- The baby’s mouth is moist after (and often during) breastfeeding.
- Your breasts are softer/emptier after the feeds.
- Once the feed is over, you may start to feel sleepy or relaxed.
Besides these signs, other more general pieces of evidence may also show that your baby is eating enough. For example, your little one is gaining weight, seems healthy, and their diapers are frequently wet.
Signs that your baby may need more milk:
- Your baby seems lethargic and sleepy.
- The baby doesn’t have too much energy.
- Your little one is nursing for too little or too much time.
- Painful latching, lack of swallowing.
- The weight gain is much slower than it should be.
- Your baby is having less frequent wet diapers or stool.
If you noticed some from the above-mentioned signs or you are just simply worried about your baby’s nursing, see your doctor or a lactation consultant to be sure your baby is well-fed. It’s important to note that having a sleepy newborn in those first few weeks can also be totally normal- so just discuss any concerns and trust your mama instinct!
Related read: BREASTFEEDING TIPS: PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
10 foods to increase milk supply
If you think that you don’t have enough milk for the baby, you can still make some dietary changes. We collected the best foods to increase milk supply. These foods can both increase the quantity and the quality of your breast milk. This is because these breastfeeding superfoods are rich in minerals, vitamins, and have some chemical properties that can boost milk supply.
Note: While foods can facilitate milk supply, remember that the most important factors for a boost include skin on skin time, proper latching, stress management, and high frequency of feeds!
It is a quite well-known fact that beer can increase breast milk supply. This is because one of the components of beer is lactogenic, and this is barley. However, before you go and grab a beer, don’t forget that everything you drink finds its way to breast milk, and it is true also for alcohol (one beer is usually with pediatricians- decide what you’re comfortable with). Rather choose a non-alcoholic beer or add whole barley to your salads, stews, soups, or risotto.
The next one on our list that supports lactation is a Mediterranean plant called fennel. Fennel seeds can add a nice flavor to your foods, so if you would like to boost your milk supply, don’t hesitate to use them as a spice and make some tea. Fennel can also be used as many other vegetables- you can eat it raw or you can cook it. More parts of the plant are edible: the bulb, leaves, and stalk as well.
Oats are well-known breast milk boosters and they are one of the best lactogenic foods. This is because they are rich in beta-glucan.
There are tons of ways how you can use oats. You can add then to a smoothie, make oatmeal for breakfast with some fruit, or add them to cookies and muffins. If you are looking for something super easy, try out these overnight oats recipes. You will love them!
4. Other whole grains
Other whole grains can also be beneficial for your milk supply. Whole grains are filled with nutrients and have properties that support lactation. So, if you want to have more milk, besides the above-mentioned barley and oats, get some quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, and bulgar into your diet.
In general, garlic has many health benefits. But many people don’t know that it can also stimulate breast milk production.
Although garlic has a very strong taste that goes to breast milk as well, it doesn’t cause any problem for most babies. They like the flavor (usually). But if you notice that your baby doesn’t like your milk after you consumed some garlic, simply avoid it for a while.
Garlic can be used easily to flavor your dishes. It goes well with pasta, meats, vegetables, seafood, and sauces.
6. Poultry, lean meat
Foods that contain high mineral content can promote a robust milk supply. So it may be a good idea to eat more from these foods. Poultry and lean meat are one of the best sources of iron. They may help nursing moms increase milk production.
7. Brewer’s yeast
Nowadays, brewer’s yeast is used as a supplement due to the many nutrients it contains. It is high in protein, iron, B vitamins, selenium, and chromium.
Brewer’s yeast is very often recommended for breastfeeding moms and it can be found in many lactation snacks as well. You can use it in baked goods, smoothies, or as a garnish for your yogurt.
Good news for the papaya lovers: papaya is also considered a galactagogue. In fact, in the Asian culture, people have used it for centuries for a better milk supply.
Add some papaya to your yogurt, or eat it with cereal or other fruits for breakfast. It may be also used in salads, Thai soups, or noodle dishes.
9. Dark leafy green vegetables
Dark leafy green vegetables are nutrient-dense and contain phytoestrogens (which have positive effects on lactation), therefore they are one of the best foods to increase milk supply.
Get more leafy greens into your diet: kale, lettuce, and spinach are all great choices!
Fenugreek is a spice used especially in Indian cuisine. It contains estrogen-like compounds that are believed to increase milk flow. However, there are not so many studies conducted on this subject to know if fenugreek seeds are actually galactagogues or not. Most studies are too small or focus on only drinking fenugreek tea.
Some babies become gassier from fenugreek, therefore it should be used with caution. The best is if you ask your lactation consultant before using fenugreek.
Related read: MOM FAVORITES: BREASTFEEDING CLOTHES AND NURSING TOPS
Hopefully, after going through this list you will feel confident in your milk supply and you can nurse your baby for a long time. There are so many awesome benefits- and the fact that you’re reading this and trying your best is amazing mama!
Please let us know in the comments if you have tried any of these foods to increase milk supply before. Did they work for you? What foods have helped you?