Nursing mothers need all the energy and nutrients to keep them and their babies healthy. But it’s also best to have meals that promote a healthy milk supply. But what foods help produce breast milk?
Here are a few lactogenic foods that can help. I’ll be highlighting how each can increase breast milk volume as explained by experts or studies.
And to make the application easy, I’ve added short recipes that busy mums like you can quickly whip up at home.
Oats and other whole-grain foods help produce breast milk. These have lots of nutrients and are an excellent source of iron. They are also a budget-friendly pantry staple that you can cook in a flash.
One study noted that low-iron levels in lactating mums are potentially related to low-milk volume. Adding iron-rich food items, like oatmeal, to mums’ daily diet can replenish nutrient stores and improve breast milk supply.
It’s a good thing that you can eat oats at any time of day. And you can use it for cookies, bread or cakes.
But these options can be a bit time-consuming. So, I’ve selected a recipe that you can make ahead and eat even with one hand.
Overnight Oat Recipe
I like overnight oats because it’s versatile and easy to customise. Here’s a basic oat recipe with suggested ingredients, but feel free to tweak and make the recipe your own.
Note that almonds are foods that help produce breast milk, too. These are a non-dairy source of calcium that nursing mums need for overall health and better milk flow.
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 cup milk of choice (e.g., almond, soy)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp nuts or seeds (e.g., almonds, walnuts)
- Sweetener to taste (e.g., agave, honey, maple)
- Favourite add-ins (chopped fruit, chia, nut butter, dark chocolate, cocoa powder)
- Mix all your ingredients in a Mason or clip-top jar. Cover the lid, then refrigerate overnight.
- When you’re ready to eat it, add a splash of milk and more toppings of fruit or nuts if you like. Enjoy!
- If you want to adjust the recipe, you can do the following:
Vegan version: use plant-based milk, yoghurt or sweetener.
Gluten-free version: use gluten-free oats.
Sugar-free version: skip adding any sweetener or stir in mashed or pureed fruit instead.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are rich in dietary fibre, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that support breast milk supply. Spinach, for example, is an excellent source of iron. Swiss chard and broccoli are also rich in calcium.
Research also concluded that phytoestrogens in these foods help in breast milk production. Moreover, including greens in your diet can help your baby become more accustomed to vegetable flavours early.
The best part is that you can add leafy vegetables to salads, stir-fries, casseroles, and more. But for something quick and easy to drink, try refreshing green smoothies.
Green Smoothie Recipe
- 1 cup almond milk
- ½ cup fresh coconut meat
- 2 tbsp hemp protein powder
- 2-3 dates, pitted
- Two handfuls of fresh spinach
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
- Put the milk, coconut, protein powder, dates, spinach and vanilla into your blender. Blend them until liquefied.
- Add the strawberries and ice, then blend again and enjoy!
Protein-rich foods help produce breast milk. One good example is salmon. But aside from that, wild-caught, farm-raised or canned salmon is also high in DHA.
DHA is an essential fatty acid for your baby’s nervous system development. In addition, salmon has Vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids that help improve mums’ moods.
The natural vitamin D content of salmon also protects mothers from deficiencies.
Honey Garlic Salmon Recipe
What’s great about this salmon recipe is that it contains another known galactagogue: garlic. One study noted that garlic essence goes into breast milk and promotes longer nursing time.
However, some babies do not react well to garlic smell or taste. So, observe your baby when breastfeeding and skip garlic in this honey salmon recipe if you notice any adverse reaction.
- Four wild-caught salmon fillets, about 250g each
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tbsp butter
- Four cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Lemon wedges (optional)
- Preheat your oven to a broil or grill setting. Meanwhile, season your fillets with salt, pepper and paprika.
- Next, heat the butter in an oven-safe pan over medium heat. Add and sauté the garlic for a minute.
- Pour the honey, water and soy sauce next. Stir and allow the flavours to combine. Add the lemon juice, then mix some more.
- Add the salmon fillets to the pan, cooking each side for 3 to 4 minutes. Baste the fish while cooking.
- Transfer the pan into your preheated oven and broil for about 5 minutes or until nicely charred. Throw in a few lemon wedges for a strong lemony taste, if you like.
- Once cooked to your liking, serve with rice, salad or steamed veggies.
As mentioned, protein foods help produce breast milk. And perhaps, the best source of protein for lactating mums would have to be eggs!
Like salmon, eggs also contain vitamin B12 for nervous system development. They are versatile and affordable as well.
They can go with almost any recipe or dish, and they are quick-cooking, too.
Nursing Omelette Recipe
This delicious omelette recipe should hit the spot if you’re craving a hearty brekkie. I like preparing this dish because I can quickly boost its lactogenic properties.
For example, I can pair it with a leafy green salad. Omelette with slices of avocado is a good match, too. On top of the healthy fats, avocado is also rich in vitamins, potassium and folate.
- One turkey ham or sausage, diced
- Two free-range eggs
- 1 tbsp whipping cream
- 1 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup chives and cilantro, chopped
- ½ avocado, sliced
- One tomato, sliced into wedges
- ¼ cup sharp cheddar, grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a skillet, sauté the ham or sausage until cooked. Meanwhile, beat the eggs, cream and some salt in a bowl. Whisk them lightly to avoid cooking a tough omelette.
- When ready, add the butter to coat the pan with sausage. Pour the egg mixture, slightly tipping the skillet to the sides to cover the bottom.
- Lower the heat to medium and wait for the underside to be lightly golden.
- Next, add the chopped herbs, avocado, tomatoes and cheese on top and lower the heat further.
- Use a spatula or turner to flip the omelette in half. Cook both sides further before sliding the omelette onto your plate.
What other phytoestrogen foods help produce breast milk? One good dietary source is carrots. Aside from containing a lactogenic component, this root vegetable is also rich in beta-carotene and fibre.
Carrot Juice Recipe
Carotenoids in carrots are crucial in foetal vision, lung function and nervous system development. And so, ideally, you need to boost your carrot intake while still pregnant.
Incorporating carrots into your diet while nursing is beneficial for your baby’s vision and immunity. Preparing this carrot juice recipe with your juicer should make it easy to apply this dietary habit.
- 270g fresh carrots, about 3 to 4 pieces
- Scrub and wash the carrots clean. Peel each carrot (or leave them unpeeled if using organic ones).
- Chop the carrots to make them fit your juicer. Juice the vegetables following your instruction manual. The prepared carrots should yield about 118ml of juice.
- Enjoy your fresh carrot juice within 30 minutes. You can refrigerate any excess in an airtight glass bottle and consume it within 24 hours.
You can also mix in other fruits or vegetables to tweak this recipe. Adding oranges, apples, celery or beetroot to your juice should boost its nutrient value.
You can also check my list of cold-pressed juice recipes for more ideas.
If having a balanced diet is part of your plan to ensure a healthy pregnancy, stay on this track postpartum. Aside from incorporating variety into your meals, add foods that increase breast milk production.
Also, it’s best to complement your healthy postpartum diet with exercise. Check out my postpartum workout plan with low-impact moves!