Not a single Indian mother would have missed the ‘methi ke ladoo’ (sweet fenugreek balls) during her pregnancy. Be it your own mother or your Mom-in-law, everyone would suggest making pinnis (Indian sweet) and methi ke ladoo. I understood the science behind this age-old tradition only after I became a mother myself. My mother ensured that my daughter never went hungry in the first month of her birth as she fed me methi in all forms. She used to say, the number one reason women say they give up breastfeeding is because they don’t think they have enough milk. If you do have low milk supply, or it takes a while for your milk to come in, do not worry. You can improve your baby’s health through eating the best foods to increase breast milk supply.

Reasons for low milk supply can be due to:

  1. Baby issues: such as poor latching, ineffective sucking, tongue tie, low oral muscle tone
  2. Maternal medical conditions: such as breast surgery, retained placenta, postpartum haemorrhage, diabetes or thyroid conditions.
  3. Lifestyle issues: such as alcohol, smoking or birth control pills by mother.

Frequent feeding is important for your baby to learn to coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing and for you to establish a healthy milk supply. Babies naturally feed from 08 to 10 times in 24 hours during the early days. Accept this. Eat healthy, home-cooked and fresh food at frequent intervals to ensure adequate milk supply for the baby without any medicines or supplements.

You may be interested in reading – Indian Diet Plan for Breastfeeding Mothers

Scientific research affirms that various traditional foods given to lactating mothers can have lactogenic (milk boosting) effects. Lactogenic foods and ingredients can help to increase the levels of prolactin (a hormone produced in the pituitary gland that influences milk production) in the bloodstream and potentially increases the quantity of breast milk produced. There’s also research being done on using CBD oil while breastfeeding.

If your milk is slow to come in perhaps after a long labour, a difficult birth or a caesarean, or for some other reason, you can try these best foods to increase breast milk supply. In this article I am going to discuss:

  1. All kinds of Herbs/best foods to increase breast milk supply.
  2. Some of my favorite recipes for dishes using the best foods to increase breast milk supply as well as add some taste to your diet as a lactating mother.

Let’s first take a look at the best foods to increase breast milk supply:

best foods to increase breast milk supply

1. Vegetables:

Fenugreek in all forms can increase breast milk supply:

  • Fennel Root
  • Beetroot
  • Carrots
  • Yam
  • Sweet Potato
  • Dark Leafy greens

2. Fruit:

  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Apricots
  • Papaya

3. Some fats:

  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Sesame oil

4. Grains:

  • Barley
  • Oats and oatmeal: Oats contain saponins (a sweet soap-like substance with immune stimulating and antibiotic effects). They may influence production of hormones from the pituitary gland. This may aid production of both prolactin (milk production hormone) and oxytocin (which helps milk flow), both of which are made in the pituitary gland.
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Brewer’s yeast 

A sugar present in barley and also in oats and yeast–beta-glucan, can stimulate prolactin secretion (the hormone that regulates milk production) and increase levels of prolactin in the blood.

5. Nuts and seeds:

  • Almonds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Coconut

6. Legumes:

  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Green beans, black beans, white beans

7. Seasonings:

  • Marjoram
  • Basil
  • Pepper and fennel
  • Anise, dill, caraway, cumin
  • Garlic, ginger, onion

8. Herbs:

  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Fennel
  • Shatavari powder
  • Cinnamon and Garlic

Above mentioned herbs are some of the most preferred and effective best foods to increase breast milk supply. In Brazil and Peru, cinnamon is added to lactogenic foods as babies are known to like the taste and empty breasts more effectively. Fenugreek is commonly advised to be the best food to increase breast milk supply.

You can add these herbs to your water/tea/milk/food items or you can also eat them raw, if you can. To find out if any herb will work for you, take the herb for 3 to 7 days and watch your milk supply. You should see an increase in your milk after that time. If you do not see an increase, try one of the other herbs.

NOTE: There being no accurate regulation of dosage and concentrations in capsules of fenugreek. So, some of the conditions that can contribute to challenges with milk supply, such as diabetes/sugar, thyroid disorders and asthma can mean it is unsafe to use fenugreek. Also it can cause some allergies to those who are allergic to peanuts and a chickpea as it is in the same family of food products.

9. Flavors:

The flavor of Breast Milk depends on the food the mother consumes. If milk is vanilla flavored, the studies prove that babies suckle longer and the milk obtained is more. 

10. Fresh salmon:

As salmon contains omega 3 fatty acids which is said to help with lactation. It supports in increasing breast milk  and making it more nutritious.

11. Tofu:

Tofu is filled with minerals, calcium, vitamins and a good quantity of protein. It forms a well balanced and lactation friendly diet or  one of the best lactogenic foods to increase milk supply if coupled with green leafy vegetables, it is also a great supporting factor in keeping you fit and healthy.

12. Curry leaves

Curry leaves are often seen in Indian cooking. But did you know that they are really beneficial in boosting melanin, improvement in blood circulation and ability of the body to break down nutrients.

13. Asparagus

Asparagus is high in fiber, vitamin A and vitamin K which is great for milk production and stimulating the hormones which are used while breastfeeding the baby

14. Alfalfa

Alfalfa salad or alfalfa tea etc. is high in vitamins and minerals and is a proven source when it comes to increase in the breast milk supply.

15. Cumin seeds and fennel seeds

Cumin seeds and fennel seeds are great source for stimulation of breast milk and digestion, it can be added to warm milk or tea making a great way to increase breast milk supply.

16. Turmeric

When milk supply is low, turmeric can become a great spice as it has antibiotic properties. As you don’t need turmeric in large quantities,  A little bit of turmeric with warm milk can even help your nipples from getting infected or inflamed.

Best ways to increase breast milk supply

Optimum milk supply or breast milk can be kept at optimum level by adequate hydration, living a healthy lifestyle and having sufficient sleep

  • As nursing reflects a process of demand and supply, frequently nursing your baby can lead to more production of breast milk
  • Feed the baby from both the breasts during the feeding session, to help baby get the hindmilk
  • Keep a check on the medications you take as they can be an interference in milk production
  • An appropriate nursing bra should be used as prolonged obstruction of the flow of milk due to a tight bra can lead to infection or clogged ducts.

Foods that decrease breast milk supply

Some expecting mothers start producing breast milk before they have given birth, but some women find their milk production lacking even after giving birth, the major cause of it can be your diet. Some foods which decrease breast milk supply are:

  • Jasmine
  • Parsley
  • Too much cabbage
  • Peppermint

Keeping yourself hydrated is really significant as well as it stimulates milk production.

Why is it important to stay stress-free during breastfeeding?

High level of stress (due to lacking breastfeeding confidence, feeling exhausted, or due to criticisms or concern about breast milk etc ) at the time of breastfeeding the child can cause a strenuous let- down reflex and can lead to a fall in breast milk supply  and weaning as well

Recipes for preparing drinks/dishes using best foods to increase breast milk supply:

 1. Fennel Tea:

best foods to increase breast milk supply

Add a teaspoon of fennel seeds into a cup of boiling water, leave to infuse for two-three minutes, strain it and drink the tea. Herbalists have always recommended drinking fennel tea to first-time mothers to help increase milk production. Research indicates that fennel may have a mild oestrogen-like effect which enhances breast milk production.

2. Tinday ki Sabzi Recipe (Apple Gourd Recipe):

This is a mild preparation of Tinday / Apply Gourds / Baby Gourds cooked with tomatoes and light Indian spices.

Servings: 04 people           Prep Time: 10 minutes         Cooking Time: 15 minutes

best foods to increase breast milk supply

Ingredients:

500 gm Baby Gourd / Tinda, 250 gms Tomatoes / Tamatar chopped (3 medium sized),1 tsp Green Chillies / Hari Mirch chopped, To  taste Salt / Namak, 3 tbs Cooking Oil, 1/2  tsp Cumin Seeds / Sabut Jeera, 1/3  tsp Fennel Seeds / Saunf, 1 pinch Asafoetida / Hing powder, 2 tbsp Fresh Coriander / Cilantro / Hara Dhaniya Chopped

Instructions:

  1. Wash the tindas and peel with the help of a vegetable peeler. Chop the tinday into cubes or make slices of medium thickness.
  2. Grind tomatoes and green chilies to make a paste.
  3. Heat oil in the pressure cooker and add cumin and fennel seeds.
  4. When seeds start crackling then add the asafoetida, tomato puree and all the dry spices. Saute and cook till oil starts separating from the tomato masala.
  5. Now add chopped tinda in the pressure cooker and stir fry for a minute.
  6. Add about 1/3 cup of water in the cooker and mix well.
  7. Pressure cook on medium heat for 3 whistles or till it cooks completely but does not get mashed or pulpy. When the pressure in the cooker cools down completely then open it and add chopped fresh coriander or cilantro.
  8. Best served with methi paratha/ roti for the lactating mother as a good combination of best foods to increase breast milk supply.

3. Punjabi Methi Paratha Recipe (Indian flatbread Recipe):

It is an Indian flatbread made using methi leaves and dough.

PREP TIME: 20 mins          COOKING TIME: 5 mins              Serves: 2-3

best foods to increase breast milk supply

Ingredients:

 8 tbsp wheat flour, 1 bunch freshly and finely chopped methi leaves(or kasuri methi), 1 tbsp coriander leaves, salt – to taste, ½ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp ginger garlic paste, ½ tsp green chillies, ½ tsp roasted coriander seeds powder, ½ tsp carom seeds(ajwain),1 tsp oil, water to make dough

Instructions:

  1. Firstly, take a mixing bowl, into it, add wheat flour into it.
  2. Add methi leaves into it, add coriander leaves and mix them with a spatula.
  3. Add salt, turmeric powder, coriander seeds powder, ginger garlic paste, carom seeds (ajwain). Add green chillies into it and oil.
  4. Mix everything well.
  5. Gradually add water and knead into smooth dough. Keep it aside for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Divide the dough into small/medium size portions.
  7. Take a small/medium portion of the dough.
  8. Take a rolling board and dust some flour on it. Roll the dough like a circular chapati/paratha.
  9. Heat the tawa and place the parantha on it.
  10. Cook the down side of the methi paratha on medium flame for a few seconds.
  11. Flip the parantha and oil/ghee all over the roti. Flip it again and apply oil on the other side.
  12. Serve it hot with tinda curry which is another best food to increase breast milk supply.

4. Shakarkand ki Chaat recipe (Sweet Potato Recipe):

Snacks under 5 minutes    Preparation Time: 10 mins     Cooking Time: 4 mins     Makes/Serves: 4 plates

best foods to increase breast milk supply

Ingredients:

2 cups boiled and peeled sweet potato (shakarkand) cubes, 4 tbsp oil, 6 tbsp khajur imli ki chutney,4 tbsp green chutney, 1 cup whisked curds (dahi), For Sprinkling: black salt, roasted cumin seeds (jeera) powder, salt to taste, For The Garnish: 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander (dhania)

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a broad not-stick pan, add the sweet potatoes and cook on a medium flame for 3 to 4 minute or till they turn golden brown in colour, while stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from the flame and divide into 4 equal portions.
  3. Place a portion of the prepared mixture in a serving plate and top with 1½ tbsp of khajur imli ki chutney, 1 tbsp green chutney and ¼ cup of curds evenly over it.
  4. Sprinkle a little black salt, cumin seeds powder, chilli powder and salt evenly over it.
  5. Garnish with coriander and serve it hot.

5. Pumpkin spice lactation smoothie

For this nutritious smoothie you will have to blend 1 cup of coconut milk or any other milk of your choice, one tablespoon of pumpkin puree, chopped carrots, around half cup of mango and ⅛ teaspoon of ginger and cloves in a blender until it is creamy and smooth.

6. Nursing omelette

Preparation time: 5 min   cooking time: 10 min     serves: 1 person

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp of butter(organic)
  • 1 diced chicken sausage
  • Sliced avocado (½)
  • Chopped chives or cilantro (¼ cup)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cheddar cheese grated (¼ cup)

Instructions:

  • Chop the sausages into fine pieces and cook them in a skillet until they are soft
  • Meanwhile Crack the 2 eggs in a bowl, add salt and pepper and whisk them 
  • Add butter to the skillet and add the whisked eggs slowly
  • Once its downside is little brown or it is cooked, flip the omelette and add slices of avocado, chopped cilantro or chives and cheddar cheese
  • Transfer the omelette to the plate and enjoy!

Enjoy being with your child because when you breastfeed your baby, you are actually spending some quality time with your baby. Try these recipes based on best foods to increase breast milk supply and tell us if they helped you.

Happy Breast Feeding! Happy Parenting!

About vidula

I am a retired short service commission officer of Education branch of IAF. Training and educational administration are my forte. Presently enjoying being a mother to my 8 year old prodigy{daughter}. Love music,movies and my daily walks...Love of writing made me land here!

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