When you make the decision to breastfeed, you want to ensure that your baby gets the most milk possible at all times. But sometimes, that’s easier said than done. If you’re struggling to boost your supply, you might need to find some solutions to help get your girls going and make more breastmilk. Thankfully, you can eat your way to a healthier you (and more bountiful breastfeeding) with these 13 foods to boost milk supply.
If you thought that you were the only one
concerned about your milk-making abilities, you’re not alone. “There are definitely a lot of patients that come in after delivery and they're concerned about their milk supply,” Dr. Vonne Jones, MD, FACOG, OB/GYN, a board-certified physician at Total Women's Care , in Houston, TX tells Romper. “They're noticing that they don’t have an adequate supply in order to support their growing infant.” But before you schedule a shopping trip to your local supermarket to buy some milk-making foods and herbs, you should speak with your OB/GYN or lactation consultant about your concerns. “Usually if patients come in, we'll first ask them ‘How often are you pumping?’ or ‘How often are you putting the baby on the breast?’” says Dr. Jones. “Because the problem could be that they're not actually pumping enough or actually putting the baby on the breast enough, which is not stimulating the hormone, which is known as prolactin that allows for breastmilk.”
After consulting with your pediatrician to ensure that your baby is gaining enough weight as well as an OB/GYN and lactation consultant to uncover any underlying health issues, get a big glass of water and get ready to rev up your appetite with the foods that can help get things flowing again.
If you’re looking to push your milk supply into overdrive, there’s no better food than fenugreek. It’s among
one of the oldest medicinal plants in the world, according to a PubMed study, and boasts a bunch of health benefits, including its pharmaceutical uses as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antidiabetic, and in this case, it’s galactagogue properties. “Fenugreek is an herb that has been shown to increase milk supply,” says Dr. Jones. “It can be found in breastfeeding tea and lactation cookies, too.”
But before you stock up on the stuff, keep in mind that fenugreek doesn’t always agree with everyone. “Although fenugreek is the herb most often recommended as a milk booster, it can cause a reaction in some people allergic to peanuts or with thyroid disease,”
Jada Shapiro, a lactation counselor, postpartum doula and founder of boober, tells Romper. So if you want to feel out fenugreek for optimum breastfeeding, make sure that you speak with your healthcare provider first. 2 Milk Thistle
An herb, Milk Thistle is not only pretty, but it can get your milk production going.
Milk Thistle is known as a galactagogue, which is something that helps boost lactation. “Milk Thistle has definitely been shown to increase the chances of increasing milk supply,” says Dr. Jones. It is also often used for liver disorders as well, so speak with your OB/GYN if you have any conditions that could conflict with taking it. 3 Fennel RuslanDashinsky/E+/Getty Images
Fennel might be fabulous shaved in a salad, but did you know that it can make your mammary glands work better, too? “Fennel is another herb that have been shown to increase milk supply,” says Dr. Jones. A study found that
fennel increased breast milk volume, but it also boosted fat content and infant weight gain, too. 4 Brewer’s Yeast
Not to be mistaken for regular baking yeast,
Brewer’s Yeast can help lower cholesterol, treat high blood sugar, and even support the nervous system, per Mount Sinai. And it also helps with milk making, too. “Brewer’s Yeast has a ton of vitamins in it such as B vitamins, iron as protein,” says Dr. Jones. “There have been some studies that suggest that it can also increase the milk supply, too. Adds Shapiro: “Brewer’s Yeast contains iron, protein and vitamin B apart from selenium, chromium and some other trace materials,” she says. “Many report it increases their milk supply.” 5 Oatmeal
You might want to swap out your bowl of frosted flakes for something more adult, like oatmeal. “Oatmeal is a very popular food that is purported to help increase milk production,”
Andrea Tran, RN, IBCLC, a registered nurse and lactation consultant tells Romper. But the type of oatmeal you make can make (or break) your milk production. “Instant won’t cut it,” Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, LCCE, a lactation consultant tells Romper. “You’ll need steel cut oatmeal cooked on the stove and not in the microwave. Whole grains have properties that support and maintain the hormones necessary to make milk.” 6 Dates
In addition to its power to help repair damaged cells and tissues in the body,
date palms are also effective in making breast milk. “Dates have been evaluated in some different studies and they have shown to have a beneficial effect on milk supply,” says Tran. 7 Moringa
Moringa oleifera (or simply known as Moringa) is
an herbal plant with a lot of purposes, being used as both food and for medicinal reasons, too, according to a study. “This is an herb that has been studied and shown to increase milk supply,” says Tran. “It’s available in capsules as well powdered form and can be put in smoothies.” Adds Shapiro: “Moringa is full of essential vitamins and amino acids and is high in iron,” she says. “Two studies have found positive that the consumption of moringa can increase milk supply.” 8 Walnuts San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images/Hearst Newspapers/Getty Images
Looking for a healthy snack? Walnuts can help with hunger — and boost your supply, too. “Walnuts are high in Omega 3’s,” says O’Connor. “Because of this, it can promote milk production.” And don’t think that walnuts are just good for mommy milk making; a study in
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a walnut-rich diet can lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, lower your triglycerides, and lower apoprotein B, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease. 9 Dark Leafy Greens
Your parents were always pushing you to eat your spinach. Turns out, they were right, because those dark leafy greens are good for you and your baby. “Alfalfa, kale, spinach, dandelion leaves are full of nutrients, calcium and phytoestrogens,” says O’Connor. “This can stimulate milk production.”
Garlic should be your go-to, not just for making flavorful meals, but for pumping out more liquid gold. And interestingly enough, it won’t be just you who enjoys those extra garlicky lemon-garlic scallops for dinner — your baby will, too. “Garlic may change the flavor of the breast milk,” says O’Connor. “This has been shown to increase milk production because babies like the flavor and nurse more frequently.”
Whether you call them garbanzos or chickpeas, you’re going to love what legumes do to your milk supply. “Chickpeas are high in protein and have plant phytoestrogens,” O’Connor explains. “These natural estrogens aid in milk production.” Serve them up in a salad, add some chips to hummus, and both you and your baby will reap the rewards of this super healthy food that’s full of fiber.
12 Nuts And Seeds
Nuts and seeds pack a one-two punch when it comes to nutrition. Forget about the fiber and heart-healthy fats;
nuts and seeds have essential vitamins and minerals that work together to reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease, Harvard Health reported. And they also do one more thing: they can help mommas make more breastmilk. “Nuts and seeds, and especially almonds, help with your milk supply,” says O’Connor. “Because the amino acids help build serotonin, mothers are happier and relaxed and more likely to produce more milk.” 13 Green Papaya
Fruit can be your friend when you’re focused on milk production. Case in point: the green papaya has been purported to be a BFF to your boobs. “Green papaya is known to increase the production of oxytocin, the hormone that causes the milk let down reflex,” says O’Connor. “Put it in a salad, a smoothie, or just eat a bowl of it sprinkled with fresh lime juice.”
As you might have noticed, chocolate cake and ice cream weren’t on the list of food items to help boost milk production. And there’s a reason why — as it turns out, the foods and herbs that are good for you, will be good for your baby (and your milk-making boobs), too.
Studies cited: Venkata, K., Swaroop, A., Bagchi, D., Bishayee, A. “ A small plant with big benefits: Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn.) for disease prevention and health promotion” 2017. “ Milk Thistle” 2021. “ Fennel” 2021. Alhaider, I., Mohamed, M., Ahmed, K., Kumar, A. “ Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera) Fruits as a Potential Cardioprotective Agent: The Role of Circulating Progenitor Cells” 2017. Razis, A., Ibrahim, M., Kntayya, S. “ Health benefits of Moringa oleifera” 2014. Experts: Dr. Vonne Jones, MD, FACOG, OB/GYN, a board-certified physician at Total Women's Care, in Houston, TX Jada Shapiro, a lactation counselor and postpartum doula and founder of boober Andrea Tran, RN, IBCLC, a registered nurse and lactation consultant Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, LCCE, a lactation consultant