Myth and Fact of Increasing Breast Milk Supply
Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Myth and Fact of Increasing Breast Milk Supply

I wrote two previous posts on breast feeding, one on basic nursing nutrition and one on nursing no no’s. Check both of those out if you have not read them already!

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, so these three posts are very timely! In fact, Zimbabwe is one of 120 countries taking breast feeding seriously, citing that just breast feeding in the first hour of life could reduce early deaths of infants by 13 percent!


  1. Certain foods will increase milk supply if you eat them. In fact, no particular foods you can eat to increase your milk supply
  2. Beer increases milk supply. In fact, it can decrease supply because alcohol stays in your milk and tastes bitter. The baby may drink less of your milk, therefore decreasing your supply.
  3. Taking a multi or prenatal vitamin will inhibit milk coming in. This is not true. Do not stop your vitamin. In fact, taking it will ensure you are getting the proper nutrients to support you and your breast milk.
  4. You need more calcium in your diet when you are breastfeeding. In fact, you need the same as everyone else, which is 1,000 mg per day. It is very important, however, that you get that 1,000 mg per day. Aim for 3-5 servings of dairy per day and take a supplement if you are unable to get at least three servings daily.
  5. If you are vegetarian you will be deficient in nutrients. If you are a vegan, make sure you are taking a multivitamin that contains vitamin B12 (only in animal products or fortified in food). If you are lacto-ovo vegetarian, it is also still a good idea to take a multivitamin.
  6. Most people should not eat peanuts, soy, milk, wheat, or other common allergens when breastfeeding. In fact, allergic reactions from human milk are extremely rare. If you have a strong family history of allergies, talk to your pediatrician about avoiding these foods while breast feeding.


  1. Frequent stimulation of the breast and frequent expression of milk will increase milk supply the most. The more often your baby nurses, the more milk your body will make. Most newborns feed 10-12 times per day.
  2. Brewer’s yeast is a supplement that contains protein, iron, and B vitamins and may help increase milk supply. This has not been studied thoroughly on lactating women and I do not recommend taking it without consulting your doctor or pharmacist first.
  3. Milk thistle and fenugreek are also supplements that may or may not increase milk supply. These have also not have thoroughly studied and I would not recommend taking them without discussing with your doctor or pharmacist first.
  4. Caffeine can stimulate milk production, but it also stimulates baby, making him fussy and not sleep well.
  5. Adequate sleep, rest, and fluids will promote maximum milk production
  6. Stress can decrease milk production
  7. Birth control pills may decrease milk supply

Did you know?

  • It is rare for a woman to not be able to produce enough milk for her baby
  • Most women produce 25-40 ounces of milk per day.
  • Your baby can get up to 1,000 calories per day from your breast milk
  • Breast milk contains 330 mg of calcium per quart
  • Quality of breast milk is only affected in extreme conditions of malnutrition. Your body will take nutrients from you to make breast milk and you will become malnourished before your baby does!
  • The flavors in the foods you eat will get passed on to the baby. Your child may be more likely to eat broccoli when introduced to him later if he was exposed to the flavors when you were breastfeeding! I think this is the best motivation to eat your veggies!
Here are some resources for breast feeding moms:

Photo taken yesterday of Basil with his "Got Milk?" onesie on. Thanks to my friend Stephanie who gave me a four pack of "Got Milk" onesies from the Dairy Council.

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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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