Milk Supply Support
Breastfeeding is a natural process of being a mother. It is based on supply and demand and often times some women run into certain problems which inhibit their ability to supply milk to their babies. The reasons behind lactation issues vary, but the most common reasons are: hormonal imbalance, glandular tissue issues and incorrect latch from baby to breast/nipple. It is important to remember that you are not the only woman having troubles breastfeeding your baby - you are not alone! If you are having challenges, don’t hesitate to reach out and get help/assistance from a lactation consultant, your doctor, La Leche League or an experience friend. The longer you go with milk supply problems, the harder it often is to get it back on track.
The main reasons for lactation issue are generally technical - either you have flat/inverted nipples or you are putting the baby on incorrectly which is leaving you with cracked or sore nipples. If you suffer from having flat or inverted nipples, make sure you ask to use a breast pump in the hospital as this will assist in sucking the nipples out and elongate them. This will also help you jumpstart your breast milk.
Having a premature baby or a C-Section pregnancy is another common reason baby will not suck strongly at the beginning of breastfeeding. Be aware that if you’ve had a C-Section it usually takes a day longer for milk to come in. Using a pump at the hospital will usually help speed up the process and prime the breast/milk. Expect your milk flow to increase in 3-4 days.
Hydration is absolutely essential to making milk. To get adequate amounts of water in every day, drinking filtered water is essential. Other ways to consume more water is through bone broth, herbal teas, coconut water, and fresh, organic vegetable juices. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water, plus broth & fresh vegetable juice often.
DO NOT CUT CALORIES! It is recommended you consume an extra 500 calories of nutritious food when breastfeeding. Since you are still eating for 2, you will continue to need extra nutrients in order for both you and your baby to reap the benefits. Make sure not to eat empty calories just to reach your caloric intake. This will not benefit you or your baby, so make sure to eat nutrient-dense foods more frequently. There is no need to worry about further weight gain, as breastfeeding alone will help you burn up fat reserves and lose any excess weight.
Consume Vit A C E. Vitamins A, C, and E are all beneficial in proper doses. Vitamin A will help with bruising and wound healing for restoration of your uterus and abdomen. Vitamin E will do the same, but combined with vitamin C it will also encourage skin elasticity and the contraction of skin across the stomach to heal stretch marks. These vitamins are also vital in order to produce the best quality milk. The healthier you eat, the more milk will flow and the better quality milk you will produce for your baby. Foods high in vitamin A include beef liver, eggs, kale, carrots, dandelion, sweet potato, spinach, papaya, and squash. Foods high in vitamin E include almonds, avocado, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, spinach, Swiss chard, natto, and Brussels sprouts. Foods high in vitamin C include oranges, grapefruit, broccoli, kiwi, guava, kale, sweet potatoes, spinach, and papaya. Incorporating these foods into meals and snacks throughout the day will help you reap their benefits and aid in the overall production of milk.
Consume plenty of protein. Protein is a large portion of breast milk, so in order to produce the best quality for our babies, we need to make sure we are increasing our own intake. Consuming protein with each meal or snack will also help to balance your blood sugar, and help your body gain back strength after delivering your baby, by increasing muscle tone and building stronger bones. Clean protein sources include pasture-raised poultry, wild caught salmon, pasture raised eggs, mung beans, lentils, quinoa, organic tempeh, spirulina, almonds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.
Consume plenty of vegetables like carrots, yams, and dark leafy greens. Add-in lots of omega-3 foods such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, wild-caught salmon, and pasture-raised eggs.
Here are a few essential foods that increase breast milk production:
Oats – One of the most helpful galactagogues. Oats contain high levels of iron and lactation pros hypothesize that increasing your intake of oats could increase milk production.Add oats to smoothies, cookies or have oatmeal for breakfast.
Brewers yeast – Brewers yeast is high in B-vitamins which can help with energy levels and milk secretion. Try to add it to meals, smoothies or lactation cookies.
Almonds - High in healthy fats, protein, and calcium, almonds increase the fat content of breastmilk, enhancing the nutritional value. Eat Almonds on their own, enjoy all natural almond butter, add to baking, lactation cookies, etc.
Fennel Seed - This leafy green is a member of the carrot family and is considered a galactogogue. It contains a component called anethole, which mimics phytoestrogens, which are responsible for the growth of mammary glands and breast milk secretion. Try drinking fennel teas or cook with it to increase breast milk.
Apricots - Another tryptophan-rich food which increases prolactin. Try adding apricots to salads, smoothies, and trail mix.
Sunflower - These seeds contains lecithin that adds fluidity to breastmilk and reduces chances of milk duct clogging. Add sunflower seeds to smoothies, salads, lactation cookies, or eat them straight-up as a nice snack.
Breastfeeding Superfoods - Spirulina, Moringa
Lactogenic foods - Apricots, asparagus, beets, brown rice, carrots, coconut water, green papaya, millet, oatmeal, peas, sesame seeds, sweet potatoes, watercress
Lactogenic herbs - Alfalfa, nettle, red raspberry leaf, Shatavari, anise, blessed thistle, fennel, fenugreek, goats rue, hops, turmeric, ginger
*Avoid foods that reduce milk production. These include excess caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, broccoli, beans, and too many high fiber foods.
No-Bake Lactation Cookies
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup natural almond butter
- ½ cup raw honey or dates
- ½ cup flaxseed meal
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup sprouted brown rice protein powder or protein powder of choice
- ¼ cup brewers yeast
- 2 tbsp almond flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup dairy free dark chocolate chips
Place everything in a bowl or food processor and mix until well combined.
Add chocolate chips and slowly mix until incorporated into entire mix.
Roll a heaping tbsp. of dough into a ball and flatten into cookie shapes or leave in a ball.
Seal in airtight container and refrigerate until firm.
Will keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Dairy-Free Lactation Cookies
- 1 + ½ cups oats
- ¾ cup almond flour
- 3 tbsp brewers yeast
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 tbsp ground hemp seed
- ¼ tsp baking soda, baking powder, sea salt
- 1 cup coconut oil, room temperature
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup dairy free chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack in the upper and lower third. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium sized bowl combine the dry ingredients.
In another bowl mix together the wet ingredients
Mix dry and wet ingredients until combined and then add in chocolate chips
Scoop out 1.5 tbsp of the cookie dough onto the cookie sheet, 12 per sheet.
Will make 24 cookies.
Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown around edges.
Store in airtight container for 1 week or freeze.
Some effective Lactation Herbs include
Fenugreek - A common component in many herbal lactation teas, fenugreek is one of the most common and effective herbs to increase milk production. It is a galactagogue that supports prolactin secretion. Fenugreek is easy to find and can be incorporated into cooking, or it can be used as a supplement.
Capsule form is best. 3 capsules, 3x per day until the milk starts flowing.
Blessed Thistle - Helps to elevate mild forms of postpartum depression, which is linked to difficulties breastfeeding. Another galactagogue herb that boosts milk production in a short amount of time.
Capsule form is best. 3 capsules, 3x per day until the milk starts flowing.
*Fenugreek + Blessed Thistle are best used in combination
Shatavari - An Ayurvedic herb which works as a female adaptogen to balance female hormones, and can increase milk production due to its phytoestrogenic properties.
Take in capsule, powder or tincture form.
Fennel - Helps to increase milk supply, as well as relaxing the muscles in the digestive tract. Fennel seeds can be used to make a decoction - add 1 tsp of fennel seeds to 1 cup of filtered water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 15-20, still covered. You can also make a larger batch (up to 3 tsp in 3 cups of water) for a full day’s supply.
Try Any "mother’s milk" herbal tea blend - check your local health food market.
*These herbs can be quite helpful for many women, but always be mindful of any possible contraindications (with both prescribed medications & other nutritional supplementation) before starting any herbal remedies. It’s best to work directly with a holistic practitioner or ask your midwife or doula for support.
Offer your breast for baby to suckle as much as possible. Even if you feel your supply is low and baby gets fussy at the breast, having them near the breast really helps to stimulate your supply.
The more your baby nurses, the more milk your body makes: Don't follow a strict schedule. Nurse your baby whenever she is hungry, for as long as she wants, especially in the first few weeks of establishing your supply, and offer the other breast when the first is empty.
Gentle Breast Massage: While nursing, this can help your baby receive more milk through the pressure put on the breast. Massage the breast with your thumb in a downward motion while feeding your baby to help milk flow through your mammary gland. This can also take away from any discomfort you are having during the first month or so.
Switch sides: When you notice your baby is not drinking or swallowing anymore at one breast, switch your baby to your opposite breast. When there is less flow of milk, you may also notice your baby drifting asleep. This is when a breast massage or switching breasts to promote flow is most beneficial in order to for your baby to have a good feed.
Pumping in addition to breastfeeding: Pumping to increase supply is most effective when it is used in addition to regular breastfeeding to remove more milk according to the demand and supply principle of lactation. Hospital grade pumps are most effective at increasing production.
Avoid using bottles: Avoid using bottles for the first few weeks, then start with a bottle of pumped breast milk. 1 bottle a day is a great way to take a break and allow other caregivers to connect with and nurture the baby. Glass bottles with a silicone nipple are best - unless your baby was born prematurely in which case plastic non-BPA bottles are best.
Seek Support from a Lactation Consultant: Lactation Consultants are nurses who have received specialized training to support women with breastfeeding. They are well-versed and experienced with supporting new moms through all of the challenges of breastfeeding - including difficulties with milk production. They offer a warm, supportive and non-judgmental environment to new moms, allowing the relationship between mom and baby to guide the process.
Milk Banking: If you are struggling with breast milk production and need to supplement, or if you have been unsuccessful in producing breast milk, consider contacting your local Human Milk Bank. Breast milk banks collect donations of breast milk from mothers who have: an overproduction of milk, have stopped breastfeeding but want to donate their milk to help other babies/moms in need, lost their baby but are producing milk. The breast milk is often pasteurized but maintains its bioactive components, like enzymes, hormones, and nutrients that optimize a baby’s development.