A common question that I get asked at work is “what can I eat to increase my milk supply?“. There are several non-food related things that I recommend trying first but I also love to answer this question by suggesting a few lactogenic (or milk boosting) foods. This post will have all of the best (and not-so-great) foods for breastfeeding.

Before I let you in on my list of food and herbal galactagogues, I want to educate you on some factors that come into play when focusing on feedings. Finding the cause of your low milk supply is more crucial than focusing on what foods to eat to increase the supply. You can learn more about the 10 potential causes to low milk supply (here). Once you figure out a little bit more from that post, I feel that this post will be way more helpful. DISCLAIMER: As stated in every post, I’m not a doctor and cannot claim that any of these foods will treat, heal, or cure anything. Please always refer to your health care provider or private practice lactation consultant for more information, as well as researching the information on your own. Now, ONTO THE GOOD STUFF!

The “Good” Foods for Breastfeeding:

Drinks:

  • Mother’s Milk Tea: Despite recent concern about the safety and efficacy of this tea; recent studies have shown positive findings. The tea is mostly harmless but apparently not as effective as most women believe it to be.
  • Atole
  • Barley water
  • Oatmeal tea
  • Oat milk
  • Carrot juice
  • Green juices (try a fennel, dandelion, cucumber, kale, celery blend)

Grains:

  • Barley
  • Oats, oatmeal
  • Millet
  • Muesli, granola

Fats:

*Healthy fats have the potential to increase the fat content of your breast milk. This is helpful even for infant’s who appear to be breastfeeding well with appropriate diaper counts but not gaining weight at an “appropriate” rate. Do your best to avoid trans-fats and opt for these healthy fats instead.*

  • Coconut oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut milk
  • Nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans)
  • Flaxseeds
  • Sesame seeds

Fruits:

  • Figs
  • Dates
  • Apricots
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Cherries
  • Peaches

Vegetables

  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Beets/ beet greens
  • Kale
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Corn

Herbs:

*Limited scientific research is available regarding the efficacy and effectiveness of herbal galactagogues. Anecdotal evidence says otherwise. Always use with caution and consult a health care provider prior to and during your use.

  • Dandelion — also a diuretic that is good for lessening postpartum swelling
  • Blessed Thistle
  • Fennel — good for improving digestion and gas in mother and simultaneously in baby.
  • Fenugreek — definitely the most recommended by mothers and health care providers everywhere. This may not be recommended if you have diabetes, hypothyroidism, or prone to allergies. The herb can also occasionally cause you to smell like maple syrup.
  • Shatavari

The Not-So-Good Food and Drinks:

I’m not a dietician and definitely not saying that foods are bad. Maybe just consume these foods, herbs, etc. listed less frequently! Also, several of these foods listed below should mostly be avoided if you’re already at-risk for or prone to low milk supply.

Drinks:

  • Caffeine — before you yell at me, I’m definitely not saying to give up caffeine! Most days, it makes me feel invincible. I will say that caffeine can adversely affect your body in ways such as making you more stressed or jittery. This has the potential to prevent your let down from happening as effectively because your body is not as relaxed. Caffeine can also dehydrate you. So if you already aren’t consuming enough fluids and drinking an excess amount of coffee, it can hinder your supply and fluid status. Don’t give up your coffee, just stay mindful about how you’re consuming it.
  • Citrus drinks (orange juice)

Fruits:

  • Sour berries
  • Citrus fruits

Herbs:

  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Peppermint, spearmint
  • Parsley

Foods:

  • Vitamin C Supplements
  • Foods containing aspartame

In summary

The foods that are on the “good” list are foods and herbs that were stated to increase milk supply but the results are still pretty inconclusive across the board. I know that some lactation consultants discourage the use of galactagogues (milk boosters) due to potential adverse effects on mother and baby. With that being said, I first and foremost recommend having knowledge of your medical history prior to consuming anything new. Second, I say GO FOR IT when it comes to galactagogues or milk boosters! I say eat all of the oatmeal, drink all of the oat milk, and consume some of those homemade lactation cookies if you want! Just remember that you can do all of this work but if you’re not actively and consistently emptying your breast, the results won’t show. The book where I learned a lot about foods and the resources is called Mother Food. You can find it here on Amazon through this affiliate link. I definitely recommend buying it if you’re interested in learning more about how foods can impact your breastfeeding experience as a whole.

COMMENT BELOW some of your go-to milk boosting foods or your personal experience with any of the ones listed!

Sources:

  • Anderson, P. O. (2013). The Galactogogue Bandwagon. Journal of Human Lactation, 29(1), 7–10. https://doi.org/10.1177/0890334412469300
  • Jacobson, H. (2004). Mother food: For breastfeeding mothers: Foods and herbs that promote milk production and a mothers health. Place of publication not identified: Mother Food Books Series.
  • Mortel, M., & Mehta, S. D. (2013). Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Herbal Galactogogues. Journal of Human Lactation, 29(2), 154–162. https://doi.org/10.1177/0890334413477243
  • Wagner, C. L., Boan, A. D., Marzolf, A., Finch, C. W., Morella, K., Guille, C., … Marriott, B. P. (2018). The Safety of Mother’s Milk® Tea: Results of a Randomized Double-Blind, Controlled Study in Fully Breastfeeding Mothers and Their Infants. Journal of Human Lactation. https://doi.org/10.1177/0890334418787474