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What Should I Eat To Boost Breast Milk Production?

A common concern for new moms everywhere is: “Is my baby getting enough milk?” While there isn’t a magic way to increase milk supply, the solution – for most women – isn’t that complicated. You need to consume a nutritionally balanced diet with enough calories and plenty of water to stay hydrated.

The OB/GYN specialists at Maiden Lane Medical provide personalized perinatal care to help you and your baby stay healthy and strong. If you have questions about how to optimize your diet while breastfeeding or concerns about low milk supply, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN in Brooklyn or Manhattan, NY today.

A mother wondering what foods help with breast milk production.

How Does My Diet Affect My Breast Milk?

First, there is no special food that will increase your milk supply. A quick Google search will bring up a wide range of articles claiming that oatmeal or ginger or brewer’s yeast will boost your milk production. These foods can be included in a balanced diet for new moms, but there is no evidence that these or any other products increase milk supply.

That being said, your diet can influence your breast milk. First, breastfeeding does require extra energy – approximately 300-400 more calories than when you’re not breastfeeding.

Second, your diet nourishes both you and your baby while nursing. So you want to ensure you eat balanced, nutrient-dense meals, ensuring you and your baby get everything you need. Additionally, you will need to drink more water to stay hydrated while your body increases production.

The Best Foods for Increased Milk Supply

A balanced diet will help you stay healthy and boost breast milk production. You should incorporate a variety of the right foods into your meal plan to include various nutrients and avoid getting bored by eating the same thing over and over again. Below is a list of what a balanced diet should include.

Lean Proteins

Your body needs protein to create and repair cells. It also helps regulate your hormones and will help you feel full and satisfied. A balanced diet should include lean meat, such as chicken and fish, with occasional pork or red meat options. While pregnant or breastfeeding, you should be careful about the types and quantities of fish you eat, as some common fish, like tuna, have high mercury levels.

If you don’t eat meat or seafood, you can consume plant-based protein in the form of tofu, seitan, tempeh, and beans and legumes like edamame, chickpeas, and lentils.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are another important part of a balanced diet for nursing moms. Unrefined grains, such as brown rice, whole wheat, and barley, are a great source of healthy carbs to keep your energy levels up. It’s fine to have an occasional treat, but limit refined wheat products like white bread, rice, and baked goods.

Vegetables

Vegetables and fruits are a critical part of a nutritious diet. Dark green and leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli are excellent sources of iron and phytoestrogens, which support healthy cell production and energy levels.

Your body needs a wide variety of nutrients to support milk production and overall health and wellness. Make sure to eat fruits and veggies of all colors to consume everything your body needs for a healthy milk supply.

Dairy

Dairy products like milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and other products that provide calcium are also important to your diet. These products are also a great source of protein. If you’re lactose intolerant, leafy green vegetables, chia seeds, and soy milk are nondairy options for calcium.

Other Foods and Supplements

You may also want to add brewer’s yeast to your diet for extra B vitamins, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. Other products to incorporate into your diet include sesame seeds, fennel seeds, oat milk, pumpkin seeds, and nuts. These foods have healthy fats and contribute to nutritious meals.

A mother eating healthy food to for healthy breastfeeding.

Foods to Limit or Avoid While Breastfeeding

There are some foods that you should limit while breastfeeding. As mentioned, some types of fish and seafood have high levels of mercury, which isn’t good for you or your baby. However, old wives’ tales about parsley, peppermint, and sage drying up your milk are just that—old wives’ tales. There is no scientific evidence that these herbs decrease milk supply.

Also, you should limit how much caffeine you consume, as you can pass it on through breast milk. However, you don’t have to cut caffeine out completely. You can have two 8-ounce cups of coffee daily, or the equivalent in other caffeinated products.

As with caffeine, an occasional drink won’t hurt. Excessive alcohol consumption isn’t good for you, whether you’re nursing or not, but occasionally drinking alcohol isn’t going to affect your milk supply.

For more information about breastfeeding or milk production, be sure to contact our specialists at Maiden Lane Medical. Our doctors in Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York look forward to giving you the peace of mind you deserve!

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Common Breastfeeding Myths

Below are some of the most common myths you may be curious about regarding breastfeeding your baby.

Focusing on Certain Foods Will Increase Your Milk Supply.

You need to drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet while nursing. However, there’s no evidence that specific lactogenic foods or lactation teas will increase milk production.

You Need to Avoid Specific Foods to Stop Your Baby From Being Gassy.

While your breast milk may change flavor depending on what you eat, for most moms and babies, what you eat won’t make your baby gassy and uncomfortable.

Nursing Your Baby Will Make You Lose Weight.

Yes, your body burns more calories while producing milk, but that doesn’t give you carte blanche to eat whatever you want. You only need an extra 300-400 calories a day to produce enough milk for your baby. Thinking you can “eat for two” can lead to weight gain.

Medically Reviewed By

Jill-Ann Swenson, MD, FACOG
Board Certified OB/GYN

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