Pregnancy is the most fulfilling experience for a woman. One of the main symptoms of pregnancy is swollen or tender breasts. Breasts become larger and heavier. They are very sensitive to touch, in fact many a time quite painful.
This is because there are hormones in the body which are preparing the breasts for lactation as the new mother will start breastfeeding the baby as soon as it is born. Lactating starts as early as four months of pregnancy. The milk ducts grow and get filled with milk. In fact before the milk from the breasts start, there is a fluid called colostrum which comes from nipples. This is what the baby feeds on, in the initial days. It is full of antibodies and nutrients and easy to digest.
One of the main concerns of a new mother will be her diet. She has to eat nutritious food so that the baby grows well and there is good supply of breast milk. Whatever she eats will affect the quantity of breastmilk generated.
Increase milk production naturally:
The most natural and best way to increase breast milk is to keep feeding the baby. During breastfeeding the nerves get stimulated and help produce more milk. As the milk gets emptied, there is a signal sent to produce more milk.
Lactogenic foods are those which influence milk supply in a nursing mother. For some new mothers, the quantity of breast milk may be inadequate for the baby’s needs. They need to eat more of lactogenic foods, which help increase the quantity of breast milk. The below mentioned are those food items which are most common for increasing breast milk and which usually help lactating mothers.
Foods which increase milk production:
For some women, in spite of continuously feeding the little one, breast milk may not be produced in adequate quantity. They should ensure they add the following foods into their diet as these help in milk production.
- Spinach and beet leaves: They are rich in iron and folic acid. It helps anaemic mothers and also helps the baby grow strong.
- Cow milk: This is rich in calcium and helps increase lactation. It is good for the baby as it will also help avoid an allergic reaction to cow’s milk later in life.
- Fenugreek seeds: It is very helpful in increasing breast milk and is better taken sprouted along with a glass of milk.
- Garlic: It has chemical compounds which aid lactation. It is one of the best foods for increasing breast milk.
- Fennel seeds: They help increase quantity of breast milk.
- Oatmeal aids in lactation.
- Sweet potatoes and green beans also help lactating mothers.
- Chickpea: It is rich in protein, vitamin B and calcium. It is also rich in fibre.
- Asparagus: This is fibre rich and a must for nursing mothers. It is very high in Vitamin A and K and helps stimulate the hormones which help lactation.
- Cumin seeds and black sesame seeds also increase breast milk in a mother.
- Dill leaves are helpful in boosting lactation.
- Nuts like almond and cashew aid lactation.
- Drumstick is heavy in iron and calcium and increases milk production in new mothers.
- Salmon is a good source of Omega 3. This boosts lactation hormones and helps increases breast milk.
- Carrots contain vitamin A and are very good for lactation.
- Bottle Gourd is heavy in water and keeps a nursing mother hydrated. It also boosts lactation and is easy to digest.
- Barley is another food item which improves milk supply in a nursing mother.
- Brown rice enhances breast milk production. It stimulates the hormones which aid lactation.
Foods that decrease milk supply:
There are food items that should be avoided as they are known to decrease milk production. Let us take a look at a few of them.
- Parsley: It is better to avoid large quantities of parsley, small amounts do not really have any adverse effect. It is also better to avoid thyme.
- Peppermint and spearmint in large quantities decrease milk supply of nursing mothers.
- Alcohol should be avoided by nursing mothers.
- Sage and oregano also reduce milk in new mothers.
- Caffeine in large quantities can also affect lactating mothers.
- Herbs like black walnut, chickweed etc also reduce milk supply if taken in large quantities.
It is imperative that a newborn is fed only breast milk in the initial months. There are foods which naturally increase or decrease food One thing to remember is that a certain lactogenic food item may have worked for someone but need not necessarily work for you.