Breast-feeding is a healthy and convenient way to feed your baby. It’s also basically free of charge. Whether you’re on the go or stumbling through the house in the wee hours of the morning, not needing to mess with mixing formula or carrying a pump is a definite plus.
But some women may have difficulty producing enough milk. Here’s a closer look at what might affect your milk production and some tasty recipes to help give it a boost.
Benefits of breast-feeding
There are benefits of breast-feeding for both you and your baby-to-be. For baby, you’re transferring antibodies and the nutrients they need. This is especially true in your colostrum when you first start breast-feeding.
Breast milk helps fend off colds, the flu, and other infections. It can also reduce your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Research suggests that babies that are breast-fed tend to have fewer problems with:
- ear infections
- childhood obesity
The benefits for the mother include convenience. It also puts you at a lower risk for ovarian cancer, some breast cancers, and type 2 diabetes. But one of the favorite benefits for most new mothers is that it burns a lot of calories. This can help you lose baby weight.
What might affect breast milk production?
Mastitis is an infection of your breast tissue. It causes:
- discharge from the nipple
- nausea or vomiting
Your breast may also be warm. While mastitis can make you feel tired and want to wean your baby, continuing to breast-feed can actually be beneficial.
You can help prevent mastitis by:
- caring for your nipples and keeping them from becoming cracked
- making sure your bra and other clothing isn’t too tight
- changing breast-feeding positions
- completely draining your breast at each feeding
Nutrition can also be a factor, so it’s important to eat a healthy diet when you’re breast-feeding.
Low milk production
Low milk production can be caused by many factors. Some of these include:
- not nursing often enough
- ineffective latch
- some medications
- certain medical conditions
Many women worry that they are not producing enough milk when in fact they’re producing plenty.
Many issues with low milk production can be overcome. Your diet can do a lot for boosting lactation. The most important thing is to make sure you are eating regularly and getting enough calories through a variety of healthy foods. However, certain foods and spices have been found to increase milk supply for some mothers.
Foods that help boost lactation
Getting enough water can be key to boosting lactation. It’s a good idea to always keep a bottle of water close at hand while breast-feeding. It can cause you to become thirsty.
Try adding these lactation-boosting foods to your diet:
- Oats contain lots of iron. A warm bowl of oatmeal can also help with relaxation. Both of these will aid milk production.
- Garlic has many health benefits, including boosting your milk production. It also adds great flavor to your food.
- Eat plenty of vegetables like carrots, yams, and dark leafy greens. These not only boost lactation, but provide a lot of other health benefits.
- Look for sesame seeds. Tahini and halvah are two options for getting enough sesame seeds for the lactation boost you’re trying to achieve.
1. Strawberry oatmeal smoothie
No time to eat oatmeal? That’s OK because with this recipe you can drink it! This smoothie gives you the benefit of both strawberries and oatmeal. View the recipe.
2. Vegan apple pie lactation muffins
If you are a vegan or trying to stick to a gluten-free diet, these muffins might become your new favorite treat! View the recipe.
3. Quick and easy no-bake oatmeal peanut butter bites
If it’s too hot to bake, these peanut butter bites are the perfect snack to make. They only take 10 minutes to put together. View the recipe.
4. Peanut butter pumpkin chocolate chip lactation cookie recipe
Even though the combination may be unexpected, the flavors in this cookie work! View the recipe.
5. Leaky lactation lemonade
A glass of cold lemonade can really hit the spot on a hot summer day. This version can help boost your lactation and cool you down. View the recipe.
6. Lactation oatmeal
For breast-feeding moms, oatmeal can help boost lactation. You can add fruit, nuts, or other ingredients, too. View the recipe.
7. Homemade double chocolate lactation cookies
Chocolate-loving moms, this is the cookie for you! It only takes 10 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to bake. View the recipe.
8. M&M lactation cookies
This recipe pairs the popular candy with oats and flaxseed for a great treat for breast-feeding moms. View the recipe.
9. Lorin's lactation banana bread
This takes a little more time to make, but it’s worth the effort. View the recipe.
10. No-bake lactation protein bar recipe
When your hands are full taking care of your baby, you may need a quick snack that you can just grab and eat. These protein bars boost lactation and are easy to eat. View the recipe.
11. Chicken barley soup
Your whole family will enjoy this hearty soup. It’s full of ingredients that will give you energy and increase milk production. View the recipe.
Contact your doctor if you may have issues with your milk production while breast-feeding. They can recommend medication or other treatment. But for the most part, increasing your milk supply can be simple. You can add plenty of water and lactation-boosting foods and recipes to your daily plate.
How can you tell if you’re producing enough breast milk?
Signs for the mother include your breasts feeling full before a feeding and soft afterward. Signs for your baby include: Your baby is sucking deeply and swallowing regularly, seems satisfied after a feed, and isn’t fussy or irritable. Other signs for baby include good weight gain (you can check at home or with your doctor), frequent wet diapers (usually six or more a day), and frequent poopy diapers the first few weeks of life (they may slow down after that). You can also pump to see how much milk you produce.Laura Marusinec, M.D. Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.