Most women produce enough milk for their infants’ requirements. A mother’s body knows what nutrients her baby needs, and breast milk will supply them adequately.
Nature has mandated that the baby’s needs will always be prioritised. And the mother’s milk quantity and quality will evolve to manage that. To cater to baby’s adequate growth AND to replenish her own energy, a breastfeeding mom needs extra nutrition. Upto 600 extra calories per day. This is more than the energy needs of a pregnant woman.
But if you are worried that your breast milk supply is low and want to boost milk supply, below are some pointers on how to increase breast milk.
Galactagogues for Breastfeeding Mothers
Cultures around the world have their special foods for breastfeeding women. Methi laddoo, pinni, panjiri are some examples. These are called lactogenic foods or galactogogues.
What are galactagogues?
Galactogogues are foods or beverages that help a breastfeeding mom increase her milk supply. Breastfeeding diets from across the world are sprinkled with these substances.
Foods for Lactating Mothers – Popular Galactogogues
Fenugreek seeds have a variety of health benefits. It’s also popular during lactation. Drink it as a tea thrice daily. You may see as much as twenty percent boost in milk production.
Ginger is popularly given to women right after childbirth, to heal. It’s also believed to increase milk supply. It will flavor your milk, however. If you think your baby has stopped feeding because it doesn’t like ginger, you should stop taking it for a while and see. If your baby takes to ginger-flavored milk, you can be rest assured he will eat ginger more readily later on.
Garlic is another galactogogue that has been used for centuries to increase breast milk supply in new mothers. Like ginger, it is strongly flavored and if your baby doesn’t like your garlic-flavored milk, or gets colicky, you may want to stop eating it for a while.
A fennel seed tea is a good way to enjoy the herbal flavors of fennel. Fennel has properties like estrogen. It is a traditional galactogogue.
Nutritious oatmeal contains saponins that can trigger the hormones related to breast milk supply. Plant estrogens in oatmeal stimulate the milk glands.
Taken in moderation, alfalfa seeds and sprouts can increase breast milk supply. Alfalfa contains plant estrogens that are helpful to breastfeeding mother. Care must be taken as too much alfalfa can cause diarrhea in baby.
Galactagogue Medication for Mothers
Sometimes, food alone doesn’t boost milk supply. If you’re wondering how to increase breast milk supply with medication, speak to your doctor or a traditional medicine specialist (like Ayurveda). They may prescribe you:
Metoclopramide is a popular galactogogue because it interacts with your body’s dopamine receptors to increase prolactin. Prolactin increases milk supply. This drug is safe and effective for moms and infants.
Domperidone is also an alternative that’s considered a little safer because less of it passes into the breast milk.
Foods and Habits that Reduce Breast Milk
Too much caffeine in chocolate, coffee, tea and soda can dehydrate you and lower milk production. Caffeine itself may or may not irritate your baby. However, it’s best to avoid more than one or two cups a day. Or switch to decaf.
Alcohol can also affect the reflex that makes milk flow from your breasts. It’s okay to drink occasionally, and not within two to three hours of breastfeeding.
Smoking interferes with Oxytocin release, that helps breast milk flow from your breasts. Avoid it. Especially within two hours of breastfeeding.
4. Low Liquid Intake
Water, coconut water, fresh fruit juice, soups. In fact, all liquids are your best friend during the breastfeeding period. Liquids not just aid in breastmilk flow but also keep you hydrated and energised.
5. Sage & Peppermint
These two herbs are known to lower breast milk. Be careful if you like breath mints and cough drops. They could dry up your milk before you’re ready to wean.
How to Increase Breast Milk?
The bottomline is,
- Eat nutritious food
- Avoid dehydration, in fact consume lots of water!
- Take herbs and foods good for lactation
- Do things to de-stress, and you’ll have more milk for your baby
Sit back and enjoy this time, both for your sake and the baby’s.