29 Foods to Increase Breast Milk Naturally
Published on Apr 19, 2022
By Dr. Surya Bhagwati
Chief In- House Doctor
BAMS, DHA, DHHCM, DHBTC | 30+ Years of Experience
Every mother wants the best for their child. For newborns, doctors recommend moms breastfeed their babies for at least the first few months. This article explores 29 of the best foods to increase breast milk along with lifestyle choices and other ways to promote lactation.
The body’s ability to produce breast milk requires several physiological changes in the mother’s body. This includes a change in their hormone levels which help promotes lactation. Post-delivery recovery also affects lactation, which is where foods that boost lactation come in.
For women struggling with poor lactation, the right aahar (diet), vihaar (lifestyle), and chikitsha (medication) can help. These three are also the pillars of Ayurveda and help bring your body into a balance. Following a healthy aahar, vihaar, and chikitsha can result in healthy lactation and a healthy baby.
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In this article:
Chapter 1: Is Insufficient Lactation a Big Problem for New Moms?
Studies have found that 10-15% of new moms struggle with producing enough milk for their little ones.
This means that, on average, out of every ten new moms you know, one is finding it difficult to provide enough breastmilk for their child. And if this is you, continue reading this article on foods to increase breast milk for naturally induced lactation with Ayurveda.
But how do you know if your baby is getting enough milk?
How to Know if Your Child is Getting Enough Milk?
When it comes to figuring out how much milk your baby has consumed, time at the breast isn’t very accurate. This is because some babies can take over an hour while others can be full in less than 20 minutes of feeding.
Here are some simple and easy ways to find out if your baby is getting enough milk:
- Weight gain: Steady weight gain after the first few days of being born is a clear indication that your baby is well-fed.
- Wet diapers: Well-fed babies will relieve themselves often. This can require 8 or more diaper changes throughout the day.
- Happy baby: A satisfied baby is a happy baby. So, if your baby is active and playing around without being cranky, he or she is sure to be getting enough milk.
- Frequent nursing: Babies usually require feeding every 1.5-2 hours and isn’t a sign of insufficient milk supply.
- Softer breasts: If your baby is drinking enough milk, your breasts should feel softer and lighter.
- Visibly nursing: You should be able to see your baby swallowing while nursing as well as have some milk after unlatching.
- Naturally unlatching: Once your baby is full, he or she should unlatch naturally, most often, falling asleep in the process.
These were the signs your milk supply is sufficient for your baby. But what about the signs that your lactation isn’t enough or decreasing?
Signs your Milk Supply is Decreasing
When it comes to lactation, a decline in milk supply can happen for some women.
Here are the major signs your milk supply is decreasing:
- Few wet diapers: Most babies produce 6-8 wet diapers a day. If your baby is producing fewer wet diapers, this may indicate insufficient lactation.
- Dehydration: Breastmilk is the only source of hydration for a newborn. So, if your body isn’t producing enough milk, the baby may be dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include not urinating for several hours, no tears while crying, low energy levels, excessive sleepiness, or a sunken soft spot on the head.
- Poor weight gain: By week 2, your baby should start gaining weight steadily. But if the baby isn’t gaining the expected weight, it’s time to talk to your doctor.
Before exploring the foods to increase breast milk, let’s understand the causes of poor lactation in some women.
What are the Causes of Low Milk Production?
Here is a list of reasons for low milk supply in new moms:
- Underdeveloped glandular tissue: Some women have underdeveloped glandular tissue that may not produce enough milk for the baby.
- Hormonal imbalance: Disorders like PCOS, diabetes, and hypertension can cause hormonal problems that can suppress lactation.
- Breast surgery: Breast reduction or enhancement and nipple piercings are considered breast surgeries which can cause damage to the milk ducts and affect milk supply.
- Hormonal birth control: Many moms on birth control pills have found their milk production to be affected when on contraceptives.
- Taking certain medicines: Medications with Pseudoephedrine, Bromocriptine, Methergine, Peppermint, Parsley, or Sage can lower milk production.
- Difficulty in extraction: Some babies have a condition called ‘tongue-tie’ which can make it difficult for the baby to extract the milk. This can be fixed by the doctor easily.
- Not nursing at night: If you aren’t nursing at night, your lactation can decline due to the drop in prolactin levels.
Now that we have listed the main reasons for insufficient lactation in some moms, let’s discuss galactogogues and how they help in foods that boost breast milk production.
Do you need Galactogogues?
Galactogogues are defined as medicines, foods, or other substances that help promote lactation.
Many of the home remedies to increase breast milk found online or from the elders of the family include herbs and lactation foods that are rich in this component.
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Chapter 2: Foods to Increase Breast Milk
Now that we have a clear understanding of galactogogues, let’s answer the question ‘how to increase milk supply.’
So, here is a list of 29 lactation foods, fruits, and drinks.
- Green leafy vegetables: Paalak, Sarson ka saag, and Bathua are tasty veggies to enjoy for a natural lactation boost.
- Cinnamon: This spicy-hot ingredient can be added to your tea or milk for a boost in milk supply.
- Ginger: This flavour-enhancer has galactagogue properties that make it one of the most popular foods for promoting lactation.
- Garlic: This ayurvedic ingredient helps improve breast milk production and flavour.
- Torbagun leaves: This herb has helped moms for centuries by promoting lactation during breastfeeding.
- Cumin seeds (jeera): This ingredient is a rich source of calcium and riboflavin which helps promote milk supply.
- Til seeds (sesame): You can eat Til ke ladoo like the many Indian moms looking to boost lactation.
- Tulsi: This ayurvedic plant is known to improve appetite, and bowel movements, and relax the mind. It is also said to help new mothers struggling with lactation.
- Dill seeds (suwa): This ingredient helps boost milk supply with high concentrations of calcium, magnesium, and iron. Suwa ki chai is also a popular drink with new moms.
- Lauki: Lauki and Tinda are said to be traditional lactation foods.
- Dals: Masoor dal is rich in protein, iron, and fibre. It helps new mothers to boost their milk supply naturally.
- Dried fruits & nuts: Almonds and cashews have plenty of calories, minerals, and vitamins. These are some of the best foods to increase breast milk supply.
- Oats: Eating oats porridge can be great for your anxiety as well as breastfeeding.
- Beets: This veggie is packed with healthy minerals and fibre which help promote blood purification as well as boost milk production.
- Tofu: This superfood from the East is known to boost lactation and is also packed with calcium, protein, minerals, and vitamins.
- Sweet potato: This fibre-rich food contains plenty of energy, Vitamin C, and magnesium. It’s also a great addition to your postpartum diet.
- Brown rice: For new moms, brown rice can help stimulate the milk supply. Eating brown rice is one of the easiest home remedies to increase breast milk.
- Asparagus: This food stimulates hormone levels that boost lactation. It also contains Vitamin A and K while being rich in fibre.
- Barley: Including barley in your diet can help boost lactation and promote hydration. Most people go for drinking water that’s infused with barley overnight.
- Carrots: This tasty treat helps promote lactation while also being rich in Vitamin A.
When it comes to foods to increase breast milk, you also have to consider the right lactation-boosting fruits as well as what to drink to increase breast milk?
Fruits to Increase Breast Milk
Here is a list of fruits to increase breast milk:
- Watermelon: This hydrating fruit is a great way to take in fructose, fibre, and essential minerals. It also helps promote milk supply in new moms.
- Papaya: This galactogogue-contain fruit tastes great as is or with cereal.
- Grapefruit: This fruit contains Vitamins C and A along with essential dietary fibres. It also makes for great lactation-boosting fruit.
- Apricots: This fruit is known to help improve hormonal balance while also being rich in calcium and fibre, making it one of the best lactation-boosting fruits.
Drinks to Increase Breast Milk
Wondering ‘what to drink to increase breast milk?’ here’s a list that’s especially for you:
- Water: Not only do we need water for survival, but it also promotes induced lactation.
- Milk: Drink a glass of milk, twice a day, to improve lactation. You can also add ground-soaked almonds to your milk for added benefits.
- Green tea: Drinking green tea can help relax the mind and boost blood circulation. It also purifies the body and is said to boost breast milk production.
- Cumin: Drinking warm milk infused with cumin seeds can help with improving milk supply.
- Pomegranate juice: Pomegranate has blood purifying benefits and is great for nursing moms.
Now that we have discussed the drinks to increase breast milk, let’s shift to foods that may be valid reasons for low milk supply.
Foods to Avoid During Breastfeeding
While galactogogues are substances that increase breast milk, anti-lactogenic are substances, herbs, and medicines that cause a decline in milk production or supply.
Eating or drinking these foods, drinks, or herbs can negatively affect your lactation and should be avoided.
Here is a list of the most common anti-lactogenic:
- Alcohol: A beer or glass of wine once in a while is fine, long-term alcohol consumption can cause a rapid decline in lactation.
- Peppermint, parsley, sage, and menthol: Some herbs are said to affect breastmilk production if consumed in large quantities.
- Chaste berry: While chaste berries are commonly used for painful swelling in new moms, they can inhibit prolactin secretion, lowering milk supply levels.
Now that we have listed down 30 foods to increase breast milk as well as 3 foods that decrease breast milk supply, let’s explore the lifestyle recommendations for improving breast milk production for new moms.
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Chapter 3: Lifestyle (Vihaar) Recommendations to Boosting Lactation
Eating the best foods to increase breast milk is just one part of the Ayurvedic equation for healthy lactation. The other sides include lifestyle (vihaar) and medication (chikitsha).
Let’s jump into the lifestyle tips to increase breast milk:
Breast Massage to Boost Lactation
Learning to massage your breasts can be one of the most effective ways to boost lactation for new moms. It’s also super easy to massage your breasts to promote lactation.
Here’s how to massage breasts to boost lactation:
- Using just your fingertips, lightly massage the breast from the top, and down over the nipple.
- Follow this up by firmly pressing your breasts and massaging in a circular pattern towards your nipple. This helps stimulate the milk to flow towards the nipple.
For best results, apply moist heat before starting the massage. Doctors recommend a warm shower or bath for this.
Also, remember that you should be very gentle with the massage as rough massage techniques can damage milk ducts. This is also why it’s best if you can perform the massage yourself instead of having someone else do it.
That said, do note that, unlike foods to increase breast milk, breast massages won’t help increase milk supply.
Here are the benefits of breast massage:
- Breast massage helps loosens lumps
- Opens blocked milk ducts
- Makes it easier for milk to flow
- Reduces risk of mastitis
Yoga Asanas to Improve Lactation
Ayurvedic scriptures suggest yoga to help promote milk supply. While thre are specific postnatal exercises for new moms, here are the top three yoga asanas to help promote better health and lactation:
1. Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
Bhujangasana is a popular yoga asana for new moms because it helps tone the stomach while expanding the chest. Also, note that Bhujangasana is also the 7th pose in the Surya namaskar.
Steps to perform Bhujangasana:
- Lie face-down on the floor with your palms under your shoulders and feet together with your toes on the ground.
- As you inhale, apply pressure on your palms to lift your head, shoulders, and upper body.
- Tilt your head slightly upwards while holding the position for 10 seconds.
- As you exhale, relax your arms and bring your upper body down.
2. Chakrasana (Wheel pose)
Chakrasana is an intermediate back-bending yoga asana that helps engage the whole body. It helps open up the chest muscles and is helpful for breastfeeding moms. It also combats stress, anxiety, depression, and sadness.
Steps to perform Chakrasana:
- Lie on the floor on your back.
- Fold your legs at your knees while ensuring your feet are firmly placed on the floor.
- Bend your arms at the elbows and rotate your arms at the shoulders. Place your palms on the floor on both sides of your head.
- As you inhale, put pressure on your legs and palms to lift your body off the floor to form an arch.
- Let your neck muscles relax so that your head gently falls behind.
3. Surya Namaskar (Sun salutation)
The Surya namaskar is probably the most popular and well-known yoga asana in the world. It consists of eight yoga poses performed in a natural flow.
Start your day by performing the Surya namaskar for all-day energy to take care of your little one!
Yoga asana steps to perform Surya namaskar:
- Pranamasana (Prayer pose)
- Hastauttanasana (Raised arms pose)
- Hastapadasana (Standing forward bend)
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)
- Dandasana (Stick pose)
- Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with eight parts or points)
- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog pose)
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)
- Hastapadasana (Standing forward bend)
- Hastauttanasana (Raised arms pose)
- Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Meditation to Increase Breast Milk
When it comes to home remedies to increase breast milk, diet and yoga aren’t the only options. A happy mood can do wonders in boosting lactation.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that meditation helps have found evidence to back up this claim.
According to research, milk supply is associated with the presence of two hormones, prolactin and oxytocin:
- Prolactin promotes milk production.
- Oxytocin triggers the ‘milk ejection reflex’ that lets babies extract milk from the breast.
Your mood can affect Oxytocin levels with happier and more relaxed women having higher levels of oxytocin. This is why meditation and guided relaxation sessions can really help promote breast milk.
By the way, this study also found that women who are relaxed and happy also had babies who gained more weight
So, meditating every morning can really help give you the best results, along with the right foods to increase breast milk.
Other Lifestyle Changes to Promote Lactation
Along with yoga and meditation, other lifestyle changes can help boost lactation.
- Breast compression: This is a technique where you compress the breast to help your baby get more milk while breastfeeding.
- Frequently breastfeed: By breastfeeding more often, your body will produce more Oxytocin hormone that helps promote milk supply.
- Nurse for longer: The more time your baby spends at the breasts, the more milk you will produce. So, one of the simplest tips to increase breast milk is to let your baby feel for longer.
- Pump between feedings: You can pump in between feedings to prevent build-up as well as promote milk supply.
- Feed on both sides: Every time your baby feeds, make sure he or she nurses from both breasts before getting full.
- Skin-to-skin contact: It’s found that skin-to-skin contact while nursing can help relax the baby while helping to promote lactation.
- Lower stress levels: High cortisol levels can lower milk supply. So, relaxing your mind with breathing exercises or guided relaxation routines can help improve lactation.
- Take a nap whenever possible: Make sure you take naps and rest up whenever you can, especially when the baby is sleeping. Also, make sure you are eating foods to increase breast milk.
- Share the load: Taking care of a baby can often be overwhelming. That is why you should ask family members to help around the house while you focus on your baby.
- Try ayurvedic lactation boosters: You can find special ayurvedic products that help promote lactation. And Dr. Vaidya’s MyPrash for Post Delivery Care is one such product.
Chapter 4: Ayurveda to Increase Breast Milk
While aahar is quite popular for women looking to boost lactation, more and more women are opting for Ayurvedic help to do the same. After all, while home remedies to increase breast milk may look easy, they can be cumbersome to make and don’t always show the same results for all women.
Ayurvedic herbs and medicines, on the other hand, have helped new moms with lactation issues for centuries.
Top Herbs to Increase Breast Milk
- Fenugreek: Your diet should include Fenugreek for breast milk production as studies are backing its lactation-boosting attributes.
- Milk Thistle: Drinking tea with milk thistle is said to boost lactation and estrogen levels.
- Shatavari: Drinking milk with Shatavari powder for breast milk is popular in India because of its time-tested ability to promote milk supply in breastfeeding moms.
- Fennel seeds: Its ability to boost estrogen levels make it possible to take Fennel seeds for breast milk supply.
- in the body as well as improve lactation capacity.
MyPrash for Post Delivery Care
While you should be eating foods to increase breast milk, one of the pillars of Ayurveda is Chikitsha, which stands for medication. And this is where MyPrash for Post Delivery Care comes into the picture.
MyPrash for Post Delivery Care is a specially formulated MyPrash that contains Ayurvedic herbs that boost lactation for new moms. Along with an improved milk supply, this product also helps promote post-delivery recovery and supports long-term immunity.
The key benefits of MyPrash for Post Delivery Care include:
- Boosts lactation
- Promotes post-delivery recovery
- Improves energy levels
- Reduces muscle fatigue
- Helps get you back to pre-pregnancy shape
- Made with 50+ Ayurvedic ingredients
Safety Concerns for Galactogogues
Galactogogues in foods to increase breast milk can work well when paired with yoga, meditation, and ayurvedic herbs that promote lactation. However, there are some points to remember when buying foods that promise to boost lactation.
When it comes to galactagogue, take these precautions:
- Consult the doctor before starting any new lactation-boosting diet
- Check to make sure you and your baby aren’t allergic to the herbs
- Only take herbs in the prescribed amounts as some herbs can cause toxicity if taken incorrectly
- Don’t take herbs or start any new products before talking to your doctor if you are pregnant
- Buy products only from reputed brands like Dr. Vaidya’s with its 150 years of expertise
Simply put, while there are several causes for poor lactation out there, you should always consult a doctor first.
Final Word on Foods to Increase Breast Milk
Your reasons for low milk supply can range from taking birth control to having a hormonal imbalance. But the tips to increase breast milk in this article should have helped.
If you follow the tips and home remedies like taking Shatavari powder for breast milk or giving MyPrash for Post Pregnancy Care, you are sure to see results in terms of healthy lactation.
Also, remember to keep the mentioned signs of poor lactation in mind the next time you are nursing your baby. If you are unclear about any of the recommendations in this article, you can consult our panel of expert doctors that can help clear your doubts and provide you with the best treatment for your low milk production.
But do remember that while foods to increase breast milk are important, do ensure that you also follow the best vihaar and chikitsha practices for the best results.
What foods help produce breast milk?
This article has noted down 29 foods to increase breast milk. The most commonly known of these is ginger, garlic, cumin, tulsi, dried fruits, asparagus, and barley.
What to drink to increase breast milk?
Drinking water and staying hydrated is one of the best ways to prevent lactation problems. Milk, green tea, cumin water, and pomegranate juice are also popular drinks that help boost lactation.
List the fruits to increase breast milk
Some of the fruits includes apricots, papaya, grapefruit, and watermelon.
How can I increase my breast milk fast?
One of the best tips to increase breast milk is to include galactogogue-rich foods in your diet.
How to increase milk supply naturally?
Eating the right foods works. You can also try Shatavari powder for breast milk.
What foods to avoid while breastfeeding?
Eating the wrong food is one of the most common reasons for low milk supply. You should be avoiding caffeine, alcohol, highly processed food, peanuts, chocolate, peppermint, sage, and fish with a high mercury level.
Should I take Fenugreek for breast milk?
Yes, as there are studies that back up the fact that taking Fenugreek for breast milk production is effective. You can also take Fennel seeds for breast milk after consulting your doctor.