While dreaming about motherhood and all of the amazing things that I imagined would come along with it, breastfeeding seemed so natural and beautiful. But what happens when it’s not as easy and natural as you expect? Breastfeeding just doesn’t come as simply to some as it does to others. I know as, sadly, I grappled with milk supply issues with both of my children.
There were many things that I did in the face of my breastfeeding challenges, some helpful, others not. I went to the extreme and could probably tell you about every measure there is to try and increase supply. The most valuable one, though, was to maintain a healthy diet rich in lactogenic foods, paired with lots (and lots!) of water.
What are Lactogenic foods?
Lactogenic foods are ones that, when ingested, help your body produce breast milk. They have properties that promote lactation in women and will give that little extra oomph your body can use—even when you aren’t dealing with supply issues! Most lactogenic foods are also nutrient dense, so they are great no matter what. And getting in the habit of eating them while breastfeeding sets the stage for healthy eating beyond.
Some of the top lactogenic foods include:
- Dark leafy vegetables: When you are breastfeeding your body needs added calories and vitamins to make up for what you are giving baby. Dark leafy vegetables, like spinach, have high levels of calcium, iron, vitamins K and A, and folate. They also contain phytoestrogens, which help to promote breast tissue growth and lactation. Kale chips are an easy and fun way to munch on dark leafy greens in between meals.
- Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils and other beans are known to be great foods for nursing mothers. They have a higher caloric count, which helps increase energy. Hummus is a particularly great chickpea snack since it combines chickpeas and garlic, another lactogenic food.
- Oats: Oats are one of the most commonly recommended lactogenic foods in the United States. This grain is rich in iron, which is thought to help promote healthy breast milk production. Start your day with oatmeal and treat yourself to some Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scotchies every once and a while!
Many other foods, herbs and spices are also said to help promote lactation, from turmeric to almonds, apricots to sesame seeds. If you’re still breastfeeding, take a look at a full list and find your favorites. Focus especially on foods that you can have around—making sure that your snacks are as healthy as your meals is a great way to use nutrition to support breastfeeding. And then don’t be afraid to get creative like with these super natural Cowboy Cookies made especially for breast feeding mamas.