If you are exclusively breastfeeding, you need to take in approximately 300-500 extra calories to maintain your milk supply and to keep your energy level up to care for your new baby. You don't need to follow an extremely strict diet but you should try to eat well-balanced meals that contain lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Some foods are said to be great milk supply boosters or lactogenic foods. We're going to tell you what those foods are, give you some great recipes to try, and share some tips to help you keep your milk supply up!
Oats are one of the most popular foods used to help boost milk production, and a bowl of oatmeal is a great way to start your day. Oatmeal contains lots of fiber, which can help with digestion. It's also very filling, so you'll stay full longer! Don't want to wait too long for breakfast in the morning? Try this recipe for easy overnight oatmeal!
Easy Overnight Oatmeal
In a large bowl, mix together a 6-ounce carton of plain, low-fat yogurt or whole-milk Greek yogurt, 2/3 cup regular rolled oats and 2/3 cup milk.
Stir in any variety of your favorite toppings: fresh or dried fruit, chopped nuts, peanut butter, honey, or chocolate chips. You can also give the nutritional value of your oatmeal a boost with a tablespoon of chia seeds and/or flaxseeds.
Carefully pour the oatmeal mixture into canning jars--either two 8-ounce, single-serving jars or one pint-size jar.
Cover the jars, and chill in the refrigerator overnight or up to 3 days. Over time, the oats will absorb the milk and become fabulously rich and creamy. When you're ready to eat, add some more of your toppings and enjoy!
If you're not a fan of oatmeal for breakfast, you can always try oatmeal cookies instead! These no-bake lactation balls are a perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate, and they contain brewer's yeast and flaxseed, which are both said to help boost lactation! They're also super easy to make!
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Lactation Balls
2 cups old-fashioned oats½ cup ground flaxseed3 tablespoons brewer’s yeast1 cup peanut butter or almond butter½ cup honey1 teaspoon vanilla½ cup dark chocolate chips
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add all ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Mix on low speed until mixture is well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Roll mixture into 2-tablespoon sized smooth balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or enjoy right away. Once the bites have set, transfer them to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Salmon is a great source of essential fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are a key component of breast milk, so eating salmon will help you produce more nutritious breast milk!
Salmon can be grilled, roasted, pan-seared, or smoked. Here's a recipe for slow-roasted salmon with fennel, citrus, and chiles. (Fennel is also said to be a lactation booster!) Bon appetit!
Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced1 blood or navel orange, very thinly sliced, seeds removed1 Meyer or regular lemon, very thinly sliced, seeds removed1 red Fresno chile or jalapeño, with seeds, thinly sliced4 sprigs dill, plus more for servingKosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper1 2-lb. skinless salmon fillet, preferably center-cut3/4 cup olive oilSea salt
Preheat oven to 275°. Toss fennel, orange slices, lemon slices, chile, and 4 dill sprigs in a shallow 3-qt. baking dish; season with kosher salt and pepper. Season salmon with kosher salt and place on top of fennel mixture. Pour oil over.
Roast until salmon is just cooked through (the tip of a knife will slide through easily and flesh will be slightly opaque), 30–40 minutes for medium-rare.
Transfer salmon to a platter, breaking it into large pieces as you go. Spoon fennel mixture and oil from baking dish over; discard dill sprigs. Season with sea salt and pepper and top with fresh dill sprigs. Serve with steamed brown rice, some veggies, or a hearty green salad.
Spinach is high in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, and iron. If you're not a fan of cooked spinach and are getting tired of salads for lunch every day, here's a cheesy and delicious version of creamed spinach that will make a great addition to any meal!
Cheesy Creamy Spinach
3 10-oz bags of cleaned, trimmed spinach, chopped1 1/4 cups heavy cream1/4 cup butter2 tablespoons minced garlic3 tablespoons minced white onion6 slices provolone cheese1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheesesalt and pepper to taste
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted, stirring constantly. Remove from the skillet and drain in a colander. Try to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes. Return the spinach to the skillet and stir in the heavy cream. Shred the provolone cheese into small pieces and sprinkle in the skillet so that it melts and coats the spinach. Once the provolone has melted, stir in the Parmesan cheese and continue to cook and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
Carrots are high in beta-carotene and Vitamin A. You can always reach for baby carrots for an easy, crunchy snack, but think past your vegetable steamer for these babies! Consider drinking your vitamins by making a carrot juice smoothie for breakfast! This carrot smoothie is packed with stomach-soothing ginger and antioxidant pineapple, lemon, and turmeric!
First, you have to make carrot juice.
2 cups carrots1 1/2 cups filtered water
Make carrot juice by adding carrots and filtered water to a high-speed blender and blending on high until completely pureed and smooth. Add more water if it has trouble blending or scrape down the sides of the blender as needed.
Then, drape a large, thin dish towel over a mixing bowl and pour over the juice. Lift up on the corners of the towel and begin twisting and squeezing the juice out until all of the liquid is extracted. Set aside pulp for smoothies, or baked goods. Transfer carrot juice to a mason jar. It will keep for several days, though best when fresh.
Carrot Ginger Smoothie
1 large ripe banana, previously peeled, sliced and frozen (more for a sweeter smoothie)1 cup frozen or fresh pineapple1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger (1 small knob, peeled)1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (you can also substitute cinnamon)1/2 cup carrot juice1 tablespoon lemon juice (1/2 small lemon)1 cup unsweetened almond milk
To the blender add smoothie ingredients and blend on high until creamy and smooth. Add more carrot juice or almond milk if it has trouble blending. Scrape down sides as needed.
Taste and adjust flavors as needed, adding more banana or pineapple for sweetness, lemon for acidity, ginger for bite, and turmeric for warmth.
Divide between two glasses and serve. Best when fresh.
Barley is another lactogenic food that is high in fiber, magnesium, and phosphorous. It's a cereal grain and is often used in soups or stews. Want to try something different? Make risotto with it. Sure, risotto is supposed to be made with rice, but with all of the butternut squash and spicy andouille sausage in this risotto recipe, you'll never tell the difference!
Butternut Squash and Sausage Barley Risotto
2 cups of chicken broth2 tablespoons of olive oil2 green onions1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1/4 inch dice1 cup of pearled barley1 cup of diced andouille sausagesalt3/4 cup of white wine1/2 cup of Parmesan2 tablespoons of fresh basil1/4 cup of frozen peaszest of 1 lemon2 tablespoons of butter1/2 cup of half and halfpepper to taste
Pour the vegetable broth into a glass measuring cup and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Cook the white parts of the green onion, sweet potato, barley, sausage, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Toast the barley (stir it around the skillet so that it doesn't stick and burn) until it's nicely golden brown and render the sausage. Add the wine (the skillet will bubble) and scrape the bits of flavor from the bottom of the pan.
Add the hot stock and cook for about 10 minutes. Taste and check doneness, the barley should be al dente, but still a little springy in between your teeth. Add the cheese, basil, peas, lemon zest, butter and half and half. Stir vigorously to melt the cheese and make the risotto nice and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning garnish with green onions and cheese shavings.
Chickpeas are a vegetarian source of protein. They also contain lots of fiber and folate. You can toss some on a salad or get your fill with some hummus but what else can you do with them? You can roast them up for a savory snack that's way better for you than potato chips or pretzels!
Before cooking the beans, you will need to soak them. You can soak them overnight if you have the time. Place them in a large bowl and cover with cold water overnight. When you are ready to use them, drain the bowl and rinse the chickpeas with cold water.
Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15 oz) can1½ teaspoons olive oil¼ teaspoon salt¼ teaspoon black pepper¾ teaspoon chili powder¼ teaspoon paprika¼ teaspoon garlic powdera dash of cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees .
Pat the chickpeas dry between two paper towels and be sure to remove any loose skins. Pour the chickpeas onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat sheet and mist with olive oil. Use your hands or a spoon to toss the chickpeas. In a small bowl, combine the seasonings and whisk to combine. Sprinkle the mixture onto the chickpeas and toss to coat.
Bake for 25 minutes, stirring the chickpeas at the 15-minute mark.
Asparagus is another veggie that is packed with nutrients! Asparagus is a great source of fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, E and K. Unfortunately, asparagus is one of those veggies that often gets blandly steamed or, maybe every once in awhile, grilled or oven roasted. A lot of times, it's served on the side all by itself.
A cheesy, quiche-like dish like the one we found for you would make a great brunch or lunch treat, and it puts asparagus in the mix with lots of cheese and prosciutto, so you know it will be delicious!
Asparagus Alla Fontina
Salt2 ½ pounds thin asparagus, trimmed and washed4 tablespoons unsalted butterFreshly ground black pepperFreshly grated nutmeg⅓ cup grated Gruyère (or Fontina)¾ cup finely minced or slivered prosciutto2 tablespoons minced parsley3 eggs, beaten3 to 4 tablespoons grated ParmesanPreheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp-tender. Drain and cut into 1-to-1½-inch lengths. Return the asparagus to the pot. Add the butter and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set over low heat and stir to melt the butter. Remove from the heat.
Turn the asparagus and the melted butter into a 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Arrange in an even layer. Sprinkle with the Gruyere, prosciutto, and parsley. Pour the beaten eggs on top, gently shaking the pan to distribute.
Top with Parmesan and bake until the eggs are set into a custard, and a golden-brown crust forms on top--about 35 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
8 Brown Rice
Brown rice is another lactogenic food. It is thought that brown rice can stabilize blood sugar, normalize postpartum mood swings, and boost your milk supply.
Get out your cast iron skillet for this dish! This curried butternut squash and brown rice recipe takes boring brown rice to a whole new level. It also contains chickpeas, which you've already learned are also great for nursing moms!
Curried Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Skillet
1 tablespoon olive oil1 clove garlic, minced1/2 medium onion, diced1 1/2 cups 1/2" cubed butternut squash1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder½ cup short grain brown rice3/4 cup stewed tomatoes½ cup chickpeas (drained/rinsed if using canned)½ teaspoon salt½ teaspoon pepper1¼ cup vegetable broth
In an 8″ cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Stir in diced onion and minced garlic, cooking for 4-5 minutes. Add in butternut squash and cook for 2-3 minutes. Next, add 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder and ½ cup brown rice; cook for one minute.
Next, add the stewed tomatoes with their juice, ½ cup chickpeas, and ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper. Give a good stir and cook until tomatoes start to boil, 3-4 minutes.
Finally, carefully pour in 1¼ veggie broth. (The broth will be up to the edge of the pan but will reduce down from there.) Bring broth to a boil and then reduce to medium-low.
Continue to let cook without stirring until rice has absorbed almost all the liquid, roughly 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Looking for a sweet treat? Look no further than these apricot rice pudding bars! Better for you than ice cream, these bars are made with apricots, which contain lots of fiber and calcium--great for your milk supply! The recipe uses dried apricots, so you can whip up a batch any time you want and keep them in the freezer for up to two weeks!
Apricot Rice Pudding Pops
Ice pop molds1 cup whole milk3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canned unsweetened coconut milk1/4 cup heavy cream1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layer removed, thinly sliced1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise3 tablespoons short-grain rice (such as arborio)1/4 cup of dried apricots, finely chopped1/4 cup sugar
Combine milk, coconut milk, cream, lemongrass, ginger, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to a boil; remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place rice and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl; let stand for 10 minutes (to soften and release some starch). Drain.
Strain coconut-milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium saucepan. Add rice; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer (do not stir or rice will become too starchy) until rice is very tender--30-35 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Stir in apricots and sugar. Divide mixture among ice-pop molds. Freeze until beginning to set, 30-45 minutes. Insert a stick into each pop. Freeze until firm, about 1-hour longer.
6 Sweet Potato
Got a craving for french fries? Try sweet potato fries instead! This recipe for savory cajun fries will make your mouth water! Plus, sweet potatoes are high in potassium and vitamin C!
Cajun Sweet Potato Fries
2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean (organic when possible)2 tablespoons olive, canola or melted coconut oil1/2 teaspoons sea salt1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano1 teaspoons dried (or 2 tsp fresh) thyme1/4 teaspoon black pepper1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper*OPTIONAL: 1 Tbsp sugar of choice (coconut + cane are best)
*If you can't handle the heat, scale back on some of the cayenne!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine seasonings in a bowl. Leave the skin on and cut sweet potatoes into thin, even matchsticks with a very sharp knife. Transfer to two baking sheets and drizzle with olive oil. Then sprinkle with seasonings, sugar, and toss. Arrange fries in a single layer on baking sheets to make sure they crisp up.
Bake for 15 minutes and flip/stir to cook on the other side. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until brown and crispy. You'll know they're done when the edges are dark brown and crispy.
Remove from oven and either serve as is, or drizzle with a bit of maple syrup or honey to offset spiciness. You can also Serve plain or with ketchup, barbecue sauce, or your favorite dip.
5 C is for Cookie
If you search the Internet, you will find hundreds of recipes for lactation boosting cookies! These cookies are a great (and often sweet) way to help keep your energy up and boost your milk supply. They often contain ingredients like oats, flax seeds, and brewer's yeast, which are all said to be milk boosters. Plus, they're easy to grab and snack on while you're busy doing everything that a new mom needs to do! Here's an easy lactation cookie recipe that contains milk boosting flax, brewer's yeast, and oats...plus chocolate chips and peanut butter.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour1 3/4 cups oats1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon salt3/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter1/2 cup butter, softened1 cup flax3 tablespoon brewer's yeast1/3 cup water1 teaspoon cinnamon1/2 cup sugar1/2 cup brown sugar2 teaspoon vanilla2 large eggs2 cups chocolate chips1 cup chopped nuts of your choice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. In a large bowl, beat almond butter, butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, brewer's yeast, flax, and water until creamy. Mix in eggs. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Mix in nuts and chocolate chips. Add oats slowly, mixing along the way.
Place balls of dough onto greased baking sheets or baking stones. Press down each ball lightly with a fork. Bake for 12 minutes.
4 Herbal Supplements
There are lots of herbal supplements out there to help improve milk production. Some of them can be made into teas or just taken as pills or capsules. These herbal remedies include:
- raspberry leaf
- blessed thistle
You can also find herbal teas that help promote milk production. These often contain some of the ingredients listed above.
Speak with your doctor first and use caution when taking any herbal supplements. Some may have unpleasant side effects and adverse interactions with over the counter and prescription medications.
Drinking plenty of water is vital when you are nursing frequently. It is important to stay hydrated to keep your milk supply up. Leave bottles of water around the house as a frequent reminder to drink your water.
You can also get water from teas that you make and fruits and veggies that you eat. Watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, and grapefruit all contain approximately 90% water. Cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, radishes, and tomatoes all contain a lot of water as well!
2 Watch What You Eat
The flavor of some foods may be passed from you to your baby through your breast milk. Things like mint, garlic, and onions may taste great to you but maybe not to your baby. Also, some foods that make you gassy, like broccoli, cabbage, or beans, may have the same effect on your baby as well! Same goes for foods and drinks that contain caffeine, like sodas, coffee, teas, and chocolate.
If your breastfed baby seems to be having digestive trouble, think about the foods that you have eaten recently. It may help to keep a food diary so that you can pinpoint what you've eaten and possibly narrow down the foods that could be causing the problem. If you notice a connection between what you're eating and baby's adverse reaction, it may be helpful to cut that food out for a trial period of time, and then reintroduce it to your diet later. If you try the food again and baby continues to have the same problems, then it might be best to eliminate that food from your diet altogether.
1 Nurse Away
The best way to produce more milk is to nurse, nurse, nurse. (Or pump, pump, pump!) The more milk that is removed from the breasts during nursing or pumping sessions, the more milk will be created.
Remember to switch sides frequently when nursing. Offer one breast, let your baby finish nursing on that side, and then offer your baby the other side. The next time you nurse, start on the side that you finished on.
If you're having trouble making milk or don't feel like nursing and/or pumping is going as well as it could, look for tips, ask a mom friend, or speak with your doctor or a local lactation consultant.
Do you have any milk boosting recipes, tips, or tricks? Share them in the comments!