Breastfeeding Diet: Foods that Improve Milk Quality and SupplyThe health of your baby depends upon your ability to produce high-quality breast milk, not to mention ensuring that you can produce enough of it. Therefore, you must do what you can to make the entire breastfeeding experience so much better by knowing what types of food can help benefit the process.
When you're breastfeeding, it's important to know if there are certain foods you should be eating that can help improve breast milk quality and make it easier to produce milk in the first place. After all, the health of your baby depends upon your ability to produce high-quality breast milk, not to mention ensuring that you can produce enough of it. Therefore, you must do what you can to make the entire breastfeeding experience easier by knowing what types of food can help benefit breast milk production. It’s equally important to know if there are certain things you should avoid eating while you're breastfeeding. You might be surprised just how big a difference the right diet can make.
Foods That Help Produce Quality Breast Milk
Seeds are one of the best things you can eat when you're breastfeeding. That is especially true if you choose the right types of seeds like chia seeds. They can be added to virtually anything you eat and pack a lot of nutrients even in small servings. Most of them are high in fiber and come with more than their fair share of zinc and other energy-giving nutrients. This helps you fight off diseases by improving the health of your immune system while simultaneously allowing you to produce breast milk that is high in nutrients for your baby.
Add seeds to your food whenever possible to increase milk supply. Recommended seeds are sesame seeds, fennel seeds, flaxseed, fenugreek seeds, and cumin seeds. Flaxseed is a good source of healthy fats important for your baby's development.
If you want you and your baby to be healthy, root vegetables are always a good option. Like seeds, they provide an extra dose of energy and help your immune system function better. They also provide plenty of nutrients without packing on extra pounds. The best root vegetables to eat while you're breastfeeding include yams and carrots. Not only are they good for you, they also taste great.
Green Leafy Vegetables
You probably already know that green vegetables are a healthy option, regardless if you're breastfeeding or not. What you may not know is that when you are breastfeeding, they can become even more important. They are a great source of nutrients and they are low in calories. When prepared properly, they are low in sodium, rich in vitamin C and can help you stay healthy. When you're breastfeeding, they can also help increase milk production. This can make a great deal of difference, especially if you're having problems producing enough breast milk to feed your baby.
Try as much as possible to include in your breastfeeding diet spinach, fenugreek leaves, kale and the like, to improve breast milk production. Including some dark greens in your balanced diet can help boost milk production even if you don't take any herbal supplements.
Just like green leafy vegetables, mushrooms are also great for helping increase milk production. This is largely due to the beta-glucans that are found in mushrooms. They and other foods like them work well to increase milk produced by lactating mothers. Therefore, including them in your diet, can help you produce more than enough milk to ensure that your baby is happy and healthy.
Virtually any type of bean or legume can help you produce more milk and can also help to ensure that the milk you're producing is as healthy as possible. Not only do beans help support a healthy body, but some of those nutrients can also be then passed on in your breast milk. This in turn allows your baby to benefit from those nutrients.
Soybeans are among the protein rich foods that you can include in your nutritious meals for quality milk supply.
If you want to ramp up your energy and get some heart-healthy nutrients at the same time, nuts are a great option. It's easy to feel tired when you’ve just given birth, especially if you're breastfeeding. Nuts can help your body recoup some of that energy and the best part about it is that it's all-natural. You don't want to be taking supplements that could potentially be passed on to the baby through breast milk. Consuming nuts can help you keep your energy levels up without allowing foreign substances into your body at such a crucial time.
Avocados are rich in various types of nutrients such as Vitamin K and potassium. They are heart-healthy (with healthy fats) and great for helping you feel less hungry when you're breastfeeding, something that many new mothers complain about. If you're worried about eating too much while breastfeeding, avocados are a great way to add some healthy flavor to your meals and make you feel fuller without the desire to consume unhealthy amounts of food. If that's not enough, vitamin K and potassium can also help both you and your baby stay healthy.
While brewer's yeast is more commonly known as an ingredient in beer brewing and baked goods, it is considered a galactagogue. It is highly packed with nutrients that help in breast milk production and can be taken as a supplement for breastfeeding. There are a number of ways on how to include brewers' yeast in your breastfeeding diet.
Whole grains are known to have properties that increase breast milk supply. Breastfeeding moms are advised to replace the usual white bread with whole grain variety instead, same goes with brown rice as a replacement to white rice. It is believed that oats are among the best foods to boost breast milk supply, you may want to consider replacing your usual cow's milk with oat milk. Many lactation cookies are made from oats, too.
Foods You Should Avoid
It is worth noting that baby feeds off the foods you consume, so while the nutrients are passed on to your breastfed baby, some potentially harmful contents from food and drinks can be passed to your little one.
This is pretty obvious, alcohol is not the best thing to consume when you're breastfeeding. Practically, everything that you consume may be passed to your baby, consuming alcohol, can have adverse effects on your little one. It's also important to remember that those effects could be stronger for your baby, thanks to the weight difference between you and your baby.
High Mercury Fish
Some fish can be very high in mercury. This is potentially harmful to any human that consumes too much of it. Some species like tuna, mackerel, sea bass, shark and yellowtail should be totally avoided while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Depending on the herb in question, it could be potentially harmful to your baby. In most cases, the best thing is to simply abstain from consuming herbs while breastfeeding. If there is something you want to consume and you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor or lactation consultant first.
What About Myths and Breastfeeding?
Unfortunately, there are also some myths about breastfeeding that may prevent you from choosing this option over formula. For instance, there is a misconception that eating a lot of green, leafy vegetables will cause you to pass excessive amounts of gas to your baby through breastmilk. This simply isn’t true, yet it has been circulating for decades. It’s impossible to pass gas to your baby through breastmilk, regardless of what you eat, so you need not worry.
By the same token, some new moms believe that they can produce more breastmilk by drinking a lot of milk themselves. Again, this is not true. If you want to produce more milk, eat a lot of those dark leafy greens you’ve been afraid to eat because of the myth about making your baby gassy. Low milk supply is caused by a variety of reasons and could be resolved in many ways too. The key is to eat a balanced diet.
One final myth you should be aware of is the idea that breastfeeding mothers should eat only plain and bland food. When you breastfeed, you will need a lot of energy to produce milk and nurse your baby, don’t keep yourself from eating delicious food. However, use certain herbs and seasonings in moderation. Remember that the right food combination is always the key.
If you follow these guidelines, it's likely that you'll be able to produce more breast milk and that the milk you're producing will be of a much higher quality. This gives you the best opportunity to ensure that your baby gets a healthy start in life. Besides, it allows you to either maintain or adopt a healthier diet so that you and your baby can be happy together for years to come.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Sara Gale
Sara loves traveling and exploring new places with her family. She is mom to 2 lovely children and loves bringing them out on adventures.