Nursing can be many things — amazing, frustrating, exhilarating — but one thing's for sure: breastfeeding takes time. While most moms know that a healthy diet is important to keep up their milk supply, who has the free time to prepare a perfectly balanced meal each night? Some days, you're lucky if you can grab a snack-pack of almonds and a nutritionally-questionable cereal bar. That's where technology comes in. Lifesavers like simple Instant Pot recipes to boost your milk supply can leave your hands free for more important things, like caring for your baby.
Of course, there's plenty you can eat to keep yourself nourished, and thus, boost your milk supply. As Margaret Buxton, CNM DNP, Regional Director of Clinical Operations at Baby+Co in Nashville, Tennessee, explains to Romper, the best breastfeeding diet is high in proteins like tofu, egg, chicken, and fish, as well as whole grains and dark leafy greens. Healthy fats like nuts and seeds, as well as fennel, garlic, and papaya, can also give your supply a leg up. Buxton notes that Baby+Co feels so strongly about the role of your diet in nursing that their breastfeeding classes include pre- and postpartum nutritional education with lactation in mind.
When it comes to milk supply, Buxton explains that the best foods are part of the Mediterranean diet, which WebMd touted as one of the simplest, healthiest diets in existence. "The key to this diet is to eat real food (not processed), to cook your food at home, and to eat mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains," says Buxton. At the same time, try to cut back on meats, dairy, and sugar. To further support a robust milk supply, Buxton advises avoiding diuretics like caffeine, parsley, mint, and oregano.
Chickpeas are a wonderful part of a Mediterranean diet, and if there's one thing an Instant Pot is perfect for, it's preparing delicious, aromatic beans. This Big Girls, Small Kitchen recipe for Instant Pot Chickpeas is flavored with supply-boosting fennel and other healthy root vegetables. Prep the chickpeas at the beginning of the week (or better yet, have your partner do it) and use them as a quick and easy base for hummus, stews, soups — whatever you like. You can even roast the chickpeas on a sheet pan in the oven for a crunchy, protein-rich snack.
If you're looking for something richer, whip up the Big Girls, Small Kitchen Chickpea Fennel Gratin. Just be sure to leave off the optional parsley in the Instant Pot Chickpeas dish because of the herb's diuretic qualities.
In addition to following a Mediterranean diet, Buxton advises nursing moms to rest and slow down as much as possible. "Skip those high intensity workouts for now, especially if you’re struggling to boost your supply," she says. Instead, focus on low-intensity activities like walking and gentle yoga. "You also might consider the supplement Fenugreek, which is widely available in stores and can help boost milk supply. Drink a liter of water a day, and focus on getting all your key food groups on your plate at every meal. Most importantly, cuddle time with your baby has been proven to help boost supply — and that’s the best solution of all."
Do you have to maintain a perfect diet to keep your milk supply? Luckily for most of us, the answer, according to Kelly Mom, is no. But you will feel better if you eat right most of the time, and your supply can only benefit. If you're very concerned about how much milk you're making, be sure to reach out to your doctor or a lactation consultant for additional help.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.