When it comes to breastfeeding, nobody wants to struggle, especially when you're told that breastfeeding your baby is literally the most natural thing in the world. It should just happen, right? It should come easily to you, and your baby, since it's what your breasts were designed to do. But no matter how long you've been breastfeeding, you've probably learned that's not always true. Low milk supply can especially lead moms to think they're doing something wrong, so they seek out help like lactation cookies and Gatorade. But does Gatorade really boost milk supply? Some breastfeeding moms swear by it. Lactation consultants, not so much.
Galactagogues, which are foods or herbs that can increase breast milk supply, are talked about a lot by moms struggling with a milk supply. According to Kelly Mom, however, galactagogues are only potentially helpful and they still require more than just chugging 40 ounces of Gatorade — you also have to remove more milk from your breasts.
There's actually no scientific evidence that claims Gatorade can increase your milk supply either. In fact, La Leche League International's Breastfeeding Today reported that only a few herbs are considered beneficial to a mom's milk supply. Even then, they're considered "the frosting on the milk removal cake." Meaning, they could potentially be helpful, but they won't fix your milk supply unless you remove milk more frequently through extra pumping sessions, hand expression, or breastfeeding your baby more.
So why does Gatorade have a reputation for increasing your milk supply? Nobody's really sure where the original source came from, but every parenting forum and breastfeeding community is filled with people who claim that chugging Gatorade increased their milk supply. The thing is — Gatorade is hydrating you. While Kelly Mom noted that you'd have to be severely dehydrated to see a decrease in your milk supply, you should drink to satisfy your thirst. For some moms, that means something other than water — maybe you drink more Gatorade because you like the taste.
It can also be a bit of a mind game. The placebo effect is very real and some lactation consultants think it could be why breastfeeding moms believe a certain food or drink is helping increase their milk supply. International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Nadine Fournier tells Romper that moms often assume a change in their diet will increase their milk supply, making them relax, which then helps their let-down.
"Being relaxed can help with milk let-down because oxytocin doesn't release as easy if mom has high stress and thus high cortisol levels," IBCLC Kristin Gourley of Lactation Link also tells Romper. She agrees with Fournier — the more a mom hears that Gatorade can increase her milk supply, the more convinced she is that it will work, helping her to relax.
So does Gatorade really boost your milk supply? Not exactly. Does it taste good? Could it potentially get you to hydrate yourself more? Could the thought of it helping your milk supply make you more relaxed, increasing your production that way? Yes to all three. But any lactation consultant will tell you, if you truly think you're battling low milk supply, you need to see a professional. Your baby could have a bad latch, you may not be breastfeeding enough, or you may just be confused as to why your baby is so fussy at the breast. An IBCLC can give you a personal assessment, figure out what's going on with your milk supply, and give you a solution.
And honestly, that solution won't include Gatorade.