Nursing is such a special time in your motherhood journey. Along with working on latch, positioning and learning to relax to release milk, learning what foods are best for milk production can help improve health and quality of your milk supply.
First let’s clear up a few terms: lactogenic foods are foods which help in the secretion of the lactation hormones estrogen, oxytocin and prolactin. They are also called galactagogues. The main function of a galactagogue is to help promote milk production, but in order for milk to be at its peak performance the body has to be properly hydrated and have fiber. One of the main characteristics of galactagogues is high fiber content to help the body move nutrients through your system and produce adequate and quality milk.
Oatmeal is one of the most common foods, since its high fiber, calming and comforting. Oatmeal helps with regulating blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and provides moms with a relaxing comfort food that can help produce oxytocin and promote letdown.
Spinach and leafy greens also help with production, offering a tasty way to fill your need for calcium, iron, folate and Vitamins K and A. They also contain phytoestrogens: plant-based chemicals that behave similar to estrogens help promote healthy breast tissue and lactation.
Carrots are a lesser-known galactagogue, offering nursing mothers a boost of energy as an afternoon snack. My favorite way of getting my carrots is as an afternoon juice to help boost milk production for the evening. They are high in betcarotene and Vitamin A. Papaya is another lesser-known galactagogue here in the states but is commonly used in Latin America and Asia. Papaya helps promote relaxation and has a natural sedative in it.
Brown Rice, much like oatmeal, is a great grain for nursing. It is a complex carbohydrate which helps fill the body while providing extra fiber. Research has found that eating brown rice causes an increase in serotonin levels, which in turn helps promote prolactin secretion. Prolactin is the key hormone in milk production.
And let’s not forget protein! Salmon is a key and wonderful source of Omega 3 fatty acids and essential fatty acids–both are essential for healthy milk production and brain development.
Let’s not forget to drink lots of water, snack on wonderful almonds and keep nursing those hungry babies to help them grow grow grow!
Happy Nursing Mamas!
Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom to three (!) crazy little boys aged five, three and 10 months. A trained chef, she loves to cook for all her hungry boys in Portland, Oregon