Breast milk is the most nutritious food choice for every child as it gives them the nourishment they need to develop and grow. However, the quality of breast milk you produce highly depends on what you eat and drink. While some drinks and food can increase your milk supply, others do the opposite and reduce milk production in the long run.
If you struggle to fulfill your baby’s nutritional needs due to low breast milk supply, or you want to boost your milk production, this article is for you. Find out 11 drinks that can help you increase your milk supply fast to keep your little one satisfied and healthy.
Natural Steps to Boost Breast Milk Supply
Your child should be feeding between 6 and 8 times a day when there’s an adequate breast milk supply. You should also notice weight gain as your child grows. If you see signs of low milk supply like poor weight gain, nursing frequently, and your baby waking up multiple times a night to feed, it might be time to change your diet and lifestyle.
Low milk production can occur for various reasons, including prior breast surgery, waiting long before breastfeeding, and certain medications. Hormonal or endocrine issues, anatomy, diet, and the baby’s inability to suckle correctly can contribute to a low breast milk supply. To ensure you boost your baby’s breast milk supply and avoid the need for formula, here are three natural steps you should adopt.
(ii) Nourish Your Body
When nursing your child, ensure that you eat nutritious and balanced meals and incorporate Galactagogue (foods that stimulate lactation). Popular options to add to your diet include oatmeal, fennel seeds, fenugreek, brown rice, eggs, beef, and sardines. Green leafy vegetables, as well as guard vegetables, are also perfect choices. You can also add garlic, ginger, and cinnamon to your foods as they are known to boost milk supply.
(ii) Breastfeed Efficiently
How your baby suckles greatly affects your milk production. When your baby doesn’t latch properly, the poor milk transfer will lead to low milk production in the future as it affects the milk production cycle. If you feel pain when breastfeeding, hear clicking sounds when the baby suckles, or clogged ducts, you could be breastfeeding incorrectly.
Position your baby correctly and ensure the lips cover your nipples. Remember, a proper latch does not result in painful suckling, and you can hear the baby swallowing. If you are unsure about how a correct latch should be, consult with your doctor, midwife, or nurse.
(iii) Nurse Often
Breast milk production operates on the principle of supply and demand. The more you breastfeed your child, the more your body will produce milk to cater to the demand. Therefore, nurse your child as often as possible to keep the milk flowing. Breastfeeding once every two hours is ideal, but you can increase the number of times if your baby seems hungry.
Let the baby suckle for as long as possible and nurse from both breasts instead of preferring only one. If you can only breastfeed from one side, pump the other breast at the speed of 60 cycles per minute to match the baby. Doing so stimulates milk production and keeps the supply high.
Other ways to naturally boost milk production are stimulating your breasts and resting whenever you can. Also, never stay over 5 hours without milk removal by nursing or pumping to keep the milk production circle going.
What to Drink to Increase Breast Milk Production
Certain beverages are perfect for nursing mothers as they help increase breast milk supply. To ensure you drink nutritious and helpful beverages when nursing, here are 11 drinks to increase your breast milk supply fast.
Most nursing mothers know porridge as one of the best drinks to increase breast milk supply. Oats contain lots of iron which is excellent for fighting low milk production. The saponins in oats also support your immune system with their anti-inflammatory properties. Lastly, oatmeal can regulate your insulin levels and increase your breast milk supply. Besides oatmeal, you can also consume whole-grain porridge from brown rice, wheat, and barley.
2. Hot Chocolate
Chocolate is a mood booster and can help you relax and reduce stress. While it contains caffeine, moderate amounts of hot chocolate can curb stress and trigger the release of feel-good hormones. You produce more breast milk when you are in a good mood as stress contributes to low milk production.
It is safe to drink hot chocolate occasionally, although you should not go past the 300mg /day mark. Watch out for any changes in your baby’s stool consistency and gas to know whether you need to stop until you can wean your child.
3. Coconut water
Coconut water is rich in lauric and capric acids that increase breast milk supply and protect against infections and viruses. It also contains electrolytes and minerals like magnesium and potassium that fight dehydration when breastfeeding.
To boost your breast milk, drink at least 1 liter of coconut water a day. You don’t have to take it all at once. Instead, spread it out throughout the day. You can also flavor your coconut water with strawberries, oranges, and mangoes.
4. Almond Milk
When your baby becomes fussy after feeding, they may be reacting to dairy that you consume. Almond milk is a perfect alternative for you if you need to reduce or stop your dairy consumption. Almond milk has omega-3 fatty acids that stimulate your hormones to enhance milk production. It also improves the creaminess and taste of your breast milk.
You can find almond milk in various flavors ranging from vanilla and honey to sweetened and unsweetened options. Besides buying it from the store, you can make your almond milk by blending toasted almonds and mixing it with water.
Water is not only essential when you are pregnant, but it is when breastfeeding, too. About 90% of breast milk is composed of water. Therefore, you should hydrate adequately to support milk production and minimize dehydration.
It is advisable to drink at least eight glasses of water daily to prevent dehydration. When nursing, your oxytocin levels increase, which makes you thirsty frequently. The result is an increase in your water intake requirements to up to 13 glasses a day.
With this in mind, obey your thirst by drinking enough water throughout the day. You can check the color of your urine and drink when you are thirsty to ensure you take the correct amount daily. If plain water sounds unappealing, consider adding fruit to it, such as lemon or orange, to boost the flavor.
6. Fruit and Vegetable Juice
Juice from fruits and vegetables are the healthiest drinks to increase can take when breastfeeding. The juices pack vitamins and minerals, including calcium, folate, and iron. Homemade fruit and vegetable juices are the best since you control the ingredients.
Avoid artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or chemicals to keep your juice healthy. Vegetables to use include spinach, kales, and beetroot. You can make fruit juice from oranges, strawberries, apricots, and green papaya.
You need protein for milk production and to meet your increased energy needs. Yogurt from high-fat whole milk is perfect for energizing while boosting your breast milk supply. It is an excellent source of protein and provides calcium for healthy development. Note that nursing mothers tend to lose bone mass when breastfeeding.
As a breastfeeding mom, soups are among the drinks you should take to increase breast milk while getting extra nutrients. Make soups from galactagogues such as papaya, butternut, sweet potatoes, and beans.
Kale and lentil soup, as well as pig feet soup, encourage breast milk production. They are rich in nutrients and give you the energy you need when nursing. You can enrich your soups with ingredients like moringa, garlic, and ginger for optimal results.
9. Herbal Teas
Numerous herbs are lactogenic when you drink them as tea. Mother’s Milk Thistle tea is an example that contains fenugreek, anise, coriander, and bitter fennel. The ingredients can help with milk production if you struggle with a low breast milk supply.
Another great herbal tea is Galactagogue. Research shows that this herbal tea can increase the rate of breast milk production by 80%. Galactagogue herbal tea is also suitable for moms with immature babies who are treated in the neonatal ICU.
Other excellent herbs for your lactation tea include blessed thistle, alfalfa, stinging nettle, and ginger. It is advisable to limit the times you drink them to twice a day. Also, always make teas from herbs you can use when cooking or in your food and not from random plants.
10. Bone Broth
Bone broth should be part of your nursing diet as it has healing properties for postpartum mothers. It is also easy to digest and assimilate into the body and is simple to prepare. It also contains lots of minerals and nutrients as it cooks for a long time and provides the hydration you need for producing breast milk. You can drink a cup of bone broth daily during the first month of breastfeeding, although there is no need to stop after.
11. Cinnamon and Honey Milk
While it may seem an unlikely combination, cinnamon, and honey milk can help with increasing breast milk supply for nursing mothers. According to ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon can boost breast milk, although it may change the flavor. To increase breast milk supply, use a pinch of cinnamon in your milk and drink it before sleeping. You can also mix it with honey to reap its benefits.
The above beverages are great in helping you stay hydrated, get the nutrients you need for yourself and your baby, and reenergize while breastfeeding. The good thing about the drinks is that you can easily find them or make them at home. Also, monitor your baby’s reaction to the foods to avoid triggering allergies or causing discomfort for the baby.
Beverages to Avoid While Breastfeeding
Not all beverages are good drinks for milk production. Some drinks can reduce milk supply, while others may be unsafe for you and your baby. Here are a few drinks to include in your list of what not to drink when breastfeeding.
Alcohol: Alcohol can reduce your baby’s milk intake by 20%, leading to a low breast milk supply. It also passes to your baby through breast milk and can cause developmental problems. Although some people believe beer and wine promote milk production, no amount of alcohol is safe for your child. If you drink, wait for at least 2 hours before feeding your baby.
Sugary Drinks: Studies show that drinking sugary beverages can adversely affect your baby’s brain development. It may also lead to your baby having a high affinity for sugar as they grow, which can be unhealthy. Always minimize sugar in your drinks, and dilute sugary beverages like juice with water.
Certain Herbal Teas: While some herbal teas have relaxing effects and promote breast milk supply, others are well known for their ability to reduce breast milk production. Some examples of herbal tea you shouldn’t drink include the ones prepared using peppermint, ginseng, lemongrass, and parsley.
Caffeine: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, only 1 percent of the caffeine ingested by lactating mothers is absorbed by breast milk. High caffeine content can make your baby restless, irritable, or fussy. Cut your caffeine intake to 300mg a day to avoid overstimulating your child.
Tobacco: Whether smoked or chewed, cigars have a profound impact on breast milk production. Tobacco users pass nicotine to breastmilk through the mother’s bloodstream. Breast milk containing nicotine can affect your child’s sleep pattern, according to PubMed Research.
Drinks to Increase Breast Milk Supply: Conclusion
If you struggle with low milk production, the above beverages can increase your milk supply and provide the hydration and nutrients you need when nursing. Remember to consult your doctor before making any dietary changes to protect your health and that of your baby.
Sources: PubMed, Effect of a Galactagogue Herbal Tea on Breast Milk Production and Prolactin Secretion by Mothers of Preterm Babies, Jan 2018, PubMed, Breastfeeding and Smoking: Short-term Effects on Infant Feeding and Sleep, Apr 2008, and EurekAlert, Consuming Sugary Beverages While Breastfeeding Affects Cognitive Development in Children, Oct 2020