Breast milk is the only natural source of nutrition for the newborn. The researchers suggest that breast milk is a crucial food for children up to 2 years of their life and beyond. In the U.S.A., 75% of the new mothers consider breastfeeding as fundamental for their kids.
As a lactating mother, your body is naturally producing milk 24 hours a day. Your body is continuously burning calories to produce milk. Breast milk contains all the antibodies, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that a newborn needs for its growth and development. You need to eat nutritious and extra calorie foods to boost milk supply for the baby. Nutrient-rich foods can also replenish the energy in your body.
This article reviews some superfoods that may aid the milk production and nourish the health of the lactating mother. These foods are a mix of fats, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other vital nutrients crucial for a breastfeeding mother.
Almonds are rich in minerals, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. Nutritionists suggest that an ounce of almonds can serve one-eighth of the daily protein needs of an adult. Almonds contain essential minerals, healthy polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats that can maintain regular milk production.
In many ancient cultures, almonds are considered lactogenic food. You can eat a handful of almonds as raw or toasted snack items between meals. Almond butter and milk are also delicious. Several studies show that almonds are suitable for skin, bone, and heart health. Eating almonds provide a feeling of fullness. This way, new mothers can skip overeating and check weight gain.
2. Whole Grains
Whole grains are another source of nutritious foods for lactating mothers. Whole grains in the form of — brown rice, wheat germ, bread, oatmeal barley, etc. are full of fiber, minerals, and vitamin B. Research shows that eating whole grain foods can regulate the hormones responsible for milk production. Moreover, whole grain foods control the digestion process, blood sugar level and prevent gaining baby weight.
3. Leafy Greens and Vegetables
Green vegetables are a superb source of phytoestrogens that can boost milk production in lactating mothers. Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, kale, alfalfa, and so on are full of calcium, folate, magnesium, vitamins, and dietary fiber, etc. You can eat vegetables in your salad, saute into delicious dishes, or blend them to make smoothies.
4. Dairy Foods — Milk, Yogurt, & Cheese
Nutritionists recommend dairies as good lactogenic foods. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are rich in nutrients. Eating dairy foods will provide essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, protein, potassium, vitamins A, D, and B12, niacin, and riboflavin. Breastfeeding can make you thirsty. You must refill the body with nutritious fluids other than water. You can rely on milk, coconut milk, soybean milk, citrus fruits, juice, etc. to hydrate yourself and replenish calories.
Both fresh and dried fruits are nutritious for lactating mothers. Nutritionists suggest that eating 2 cups of fruits per day is good for new mothers to maintain an adequate supply of breast milk. Anecdotal evidence and scientific research support that some fruits are galactagogues and help provide the nutrients necessary for both the mother and the newly born.
Some lactogenic fruits are — oranges, apricot, avocado, strawberries, green papaya, blueberries, sapodilla, banana, and apple. These fruits contain vitamin B, C, E, K, folate, essential minerals such as potassium, and high calories. Fruits are a crucial part of a lactating mother’s diet.
6. Protein — Lentil, Plant Seeds, Eggs, & Beef
Protein is an essential nutrient in breastfeeding mothers’ diets. Lentils, eggs, chicken, beef, etc. are good sources of animal and plant-based protein. The egg is an easy snack and can be incorporated into any meal. The nutrient-packed food contains vitamin A, B12, D, K, iodine, choline, selenium, riboflavin, and folate. Various seeds such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, legumes, and beans can provide plant-based protein. Red meat can replenish the mineral zinc in the lactating mother’s body. The high-quality protein in beef can help new mothers be energetic throughout the day.
Across many cultures, several herbs and roots are traditional galactagogues medicine. Anecdotal evidence supports the efficacy of these herbs in regulating healthy milk supply in lactating mothers. Some of the herbs that you can incorporate in your tea and other meals are fennel, blessed thistle, milk thistle, nettle, fenugreek, ashwagandha, caraway seeds, ginger, garlic, turmeric, etc. Medical research suggests that these herbs may support mammary growth and hormonal regulations in nursing mothers to increase breast milk.
You should consult a doctor before using any of these herbs for boosting milk supply. Some of these herbs may have adverse effects when taken in a large dosage.
Restricted Foods During Breastfeeding
Here are some food items that may negatively impact the suckling baby and the production or quality of the milk.
- Fishes and other seafood that is high in mercury content.
- Alcoholic drinks (CDC recommends one drink/day. To avoid risk, the mothers may breastfeed after 2 hours of drinking alcohol)
- Spicy foods
- Gassy greens such as cruciferous vegetables
Breastfeeding is a crucial part of motherhood. The newborn depends on breast milk for all the nutrition during the first six months. A lactating mother burns around 450 to 500 calories a day while nursing the infant.
That’s why having a nutritious diet is very crucial for both the mother and the child. Some of the superfoods for a nursing mother are whole grains, fruits, dairy foods, animal and plant-based proteins, leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and herbs. These foods contain chock full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and essential antioxidants. Traditional medicine and modern science confirm that some of these foods act as natural lactogenics.
These nutritious foods can regulate and actively boost the mammary glands to produce increased amounts of milk for the baby. As lactating mothers, you should also check on certain food items that may hamper milk production and pose adverse effects on the growth of the suckling infant.