It’s the goal of virtually every nursing mother to produce enough breast milk to feed her baby. In order to achieve this with ease, eating foods that increase breast milk production should be on the top of your priority list.
In Ayurveda, food is medicine. You can get great healing benefits from the foods and spices you already have in your kitchen – you just gotta know how to use them! So let’s get you started on your way to an abundant milk supply and a healthy postpartum recovery!
7 Best Foods To Increase Breast Milk
Cow’s milk has developed quite the bad reputation in many health circles in recent years. That’s not too surprising considering most milk you find on the shelf is a far cry from its natural state. Homogenization, chemicals, and hormones, not to mention drinking it right out of the fridge with your dinner, all add to the reasons why A LOT of people can’t digest it very well.
In Ayurveda, cow’s milk is considered the most rejuvenative food on the planet. Goat’s milk is also good, and can be easier to digest for some people. It’s close in its properties to human milk, but doesn’t pack the same rejuvenative punch that cow’s milk does. Fresh, organic, non-homogenized cow milk has the ability to strengthen the body like no other. They key is learning how to prepare it.
Drinking properly prepared milk will assist in increasing your milk supply by delivering instant nourishment to even the deepest tissue layers of your body.
To prepare milk for best results:
- Start with fresh, organic, non-homogenized milk.
- Instead of drinking it cold, bring it to a boil. This simplifies its molecular structure, making it lighter and easier to digest.
- Finally, add digestive and warming spices like cinnamon, black pepper, and ginger; which further contributes to lightening the milk and eliminating any mucous-causing properties.
Another added factor to intolerance to milk is food combining. Just as your own breast milk is a complete food, other animal milk is as well. Milk is best eaten by itself. It does not combine well with sour, salty, astringent, bitter or pungent tastes. Doing so will inevitably lead to digestive problems and gas.
Milk only combines well with the sweet taste.
Sorry mamas, but forget about that glass of milk with your dinner 🙁 Better to save it for your breakfast porridge, or your goodnight milk tonic chai to ensure a healthy milk supply.
Almonds are incredibly nourishing for nursing mothers and the best non-dairy food for rejuvenation. They are a known galactagauge and can help make your milk even creamier! They are a rich source of proteins and calcium and a wonderful alternative for vegan and lactose-intolerant mamas. Fresh almond milk is a great food to increase breast milk.
An important thing to note: almond skins contain cyanide. Not enough to poison you, but still better to peel them off. They also make the almonds harder on your digestion.
The best way to eat almonds is soaked overnight and then peeled. Blanching them in boiling water and peeling the skins can also work in a pinch.
You can also use almond flour in recipes. Almond flour is just peeled ground almonds, and is VERY handy to have. The best almond flour is kept refrigerated.
In order to fatten up cows and other meat animals for slaughter (poor things!), many ranchers feed them oats. What does that tell us? Oats can add extra bulk to our bodies. Now mamas, don’t freak out! That is a GOOD thing after birth. You need a little extra cushion for a healthy breast milk supply.
In Ayurveda, oats are considered very soothing and rejuvenative to the body, and therefore a favorable food to increase breast milk.
Oats are a great postpartum breakfast food. Try eating warm, soupy oatmeal with added almond milk, ghee, cinnamon and ginger. Eating this for breakfast will start you on the right track for increased breast milk supply and a healthy postpartum recovery.
Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is an amazing medicine for new mamas. Its most important function is that it re-hydrates and nourishes depleted tissues, down to the cellular level.
It is ultra-important for nursing mothers to stay hydrated. Drinking water for hydration after birth just isn’t enough. You need to eat lots of healthy oils, ideally ghee (sesame oil for vegans), to re-hydrate your depleted tissues ensuring a healthy breast milk supply. I recommend adding at least a teaspoon (or more!) of ghee to every meal. If you would like to learn how to make your own ghee, click here.
Fennel is a great food to add to your postpartum diet, It helps stimulate and increase the nursing mother’s breast milk supply, as well as being an excellent digestive.
It is also one of the only cooking spices with a cooling effect on the body. If mama or baby is suffering from excess heat including rashes, burning sensations and inflammation, eating some fennel can help balance these symptoms.
Fun Fact! You can ingest basically all of the fennel plant.
- Fennel bulb is a vegetable, and can be used similarly to celery (which isn’t great for postpartum). Finely chop, saute in ghee, and add to soups, stews and stir-frys.
- Consuming fennel seeds in your meals and teas is a great way to incorporate the healing benefits of fennel into your postpartum diet.
- Fennel leaves can also be used in your soups and stews, or as a garnish.
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Fenugreek is one of the most well-known foods to increase breast milk production. It is a worthy spice (and vegetable) to add to your must-haves for a great postpartum recovery.
Also known as methi in India, it is regularly incorporated into every Indian mother’s healing journey.
- Dried fenugreek leaves is the vegetable of choice to add to your soups during your first days postpartum. Hard to find fresh in the US, they are easily found dried in Indian grocers and online, and can be powdered and added to soups and sauces. 😀
- Fenugreek seeds are actually tiny legumes. They have a maple-y flavor and are great in sweet, sour and savory dishes. Soak them for a few minutes to nullify the bitter flavor.
Garlic is a potent postpartum natural medicine when used appropriately. It increases breast milk supply, aids digestion and dispels gas; as well as protects both mother and nursing baby from illness.
The best way to prepare garlic as a postpartum medicine is to first mince your peeled garlic, then slowly simmer it in oil, until well browned .
Other Important Considerations For Plentiful Breast Milk
There are other important factors to consider in upholding an abundant breast milk supply. Here is the Ayurvedic view on drinking enough fluids:
In Ayurvedic anatomy, the most superficial tissue layer of the body is called rasa, which translates as juice. It includes all of the fluids of your body.This tissue layer nourishes your breast milk supply and helps make sure you are producing enough milk. Drinking lots of fluids including warm water, very weak lactation tea and pure fruit juice, will help support your juices flowing better! 😊
Another important factor besides foods that increase breast milk, is making sure you are in a healthy supply and demand cycle with your newborn.
Here is an example from nature to illustrate this point:
If you wish to have an abundance of strawberries from your strawberry patch, you need to pick the ripe strawberries regularly. Only when you have done so will new strawberry flowers bloom, and ultimately produce more stawberries. Guess what I’ve been picking from my garden? 😋
Similarly, in order to have an abundant milk supply, you need to be breastfeeding your baby on the regular (or pumping) to stimulate the production of more breast milk. Supplementing with formula can interrupt this feedback loop and is best avoided if possible.
To maintain a healthy breast milk supply, make sure you are feeding your baby (or pumping) around the clock, drinking lots of warm fluids, eating a lot of ghee, as well as boosting your postpartum diet with foods to increase breast milk. If you do all this while nurturing your digestive fire, I have no doubt you will have an abundance of nourishing nectar to feed your baby.