The phase of pregnancy in itself is a beautiful experience, and once the baby arrives, there are so many thoughts crossing the new mother’s mind. The first thought that comes in is whether the baby would get enough breast milk. Similar to the pregnancy phase, the process of breastfeeding does not come easily for most new mothers. Breast milk is considered as the most nutritious food for the baby. During the initial months, the baby would completely rely on its mother’s milk.
Breast milk contains all the essential nutrients, which would help the baby grow and develop, achieving its milestones month by month. To ensure that the milk is nutritious, the mother should be very careful of what she eats or drinks. There are some foods that can help increase the production of breast milk, certain foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals for the baby, and foods that the mother should completely avoid to prevent any health issues since the baby is just getting accustomed to the outside world. Hence, not all types of food would work well with the baby’s developing digestive system.
A mother’s breast milk is considered as the healthiest superfood for the newborn since it contains antibodies, which help protect the baby from different types of diseases. Some examples of healthy foods are sesame seeds, nuts, poppy seeds, garlic, ginger, drumstick, and basil leaves.
Foods to Eat When Breastfeeding
Below is the list of foods to eat during the breastfeeding phase:
Oats are considered as one of the healthy food options due to their richness in nutrients. Oats have a lot of health benefits, and its preparation is quite simple and quick. Oatmeal is known to benefit the body by ensuring:
- Normal blood pressure level
- Normal cholesterol levels
- Maintaining a healthy immune system
- Controlling weight gain
Oats are also known to be rich in calcium and iron, which help increase the supply of breast milk. During pregnancy or post pregnancy, there are chances of women getting diabetes. Consuming oatmeal on a daily basis helps minimize the risk of developing diabetes. One can go for oatmeal cookies or a bowl full of oatmeal as a morning breakfast.
Salmon is considered as a rich source of essential fatty acids and omega-3, which are required in the body. Thus, such food plays a pivotal role for breastfeeding mothers. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are known to boost the lactation hormones in the mother by making the milk healthy and nutritious. These nutrients help improve the health of the mother, so that she can produce the lactation hormones, which are needed for the production of milk. Salmon can be boiled, grilled, or steamed as part of the meal.
3. Beet and Spinach Leaves
Spinach and beet both contain folic acid, calcium, vitamin K, vitamin A, and iron in higher amounts. After childbirth and during the breastfeeding process, mothers usually become anemic, which is why foods rich in iron are considered to be essential in their diet. Along with the mother, the baby also becomes stronger.
These leaves contain certain nutrients, which would help decrease the risk of developing breast cancer. The leaves can be made into a soup. They can also be ground and then mixed with flour to be eaten as Indian bread. However, remember that too much consumption of spinach can also cause trouble to the baby as it can lead to diarrhea. For this reason, breastfeeding mothers should eat spinach in moderation.
Carrots are known to contain beta-carotene, which is responsible for their orange color. When carrots are ingested, beta-carotene is converted into retinol or vitamin A, so it can be utilized by the body. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from free radicals.
Similar to spinach leaves, carrots are also known to increase lactation in nursing mothers. Carrots are known to improve the quality and supply of breast milk apart from providing energy to the mother and her baby. Carrots can be taken in the form of juice before eating lunch or it can be consumed in the morning as part of one's breakfast. Carrots can also be eaten raw after thorough washing. It can also be made into carrot soup.
Garlic is considered to be one of the most popular foods that help promote lactation in mothers who breastfeed. Garlic has been known to possess medicinal properties. The consumption of garlic helps prevent any type of cancer aside from improving breast milk.
Studies reveal that when mothers consume garlic supplements or cloves of garlic prior to breastfeeding, their babies feed on more milk and tend to frequently breastfeed. Instead of taking supplements, you can include garlic as part of daily cooking. Garlic cloves can be sautéed or roasted in a pan with a few drops of ghee. It can also be added when cooking rice.
6. Fennel Seeds
Fennel is considered as a rich source of vitamin C. It helps boost the quality and supply of breast milk. Fennel seeds are also known to aid in a healthy digestion as they easily settle down an upset stomach. Moreover, fennel seeds can be roasted and taken as a mouth freshener after meals. It also useful for babies suffering from colic pain. Fennel seeds can be added to your daily cup of tea or it can be taken along with any other seasonings. You can also consume it along with milk.
7. Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek is enriched with vitamin C, iron, and proteins. It is also known to enhance the quality of the mother’s milk along with increasing the supply of breast milk. However, individuals who suffer from asthma or any kind of allergies should be very careful when consuming fenugreek seeds.
These seeds can be added as part of seasonings or flavorings. It can be made part of the daily diet by adding them to your daily meal or just have them along with steamed rice.
8. Basil Leaves
Basil leaves are rich in vitamin K and a good source of antioxidants. They are known to provide a soothing or calming effect to an individual, which is also needed by lactating mothers. When basil leaves are consumed, they tend to improve bowel movements along with maintaining a healthy appetite. They also help boost the baby's immunity. Apart from the numerous health benefits it has, basil leaves are also known to increase the supply of breast milk. Basil leaves can be consumed by adding some of them in your daily tea preparations. You can also boil some leaves in hot water and consume it first thing in the morning.
Chickpeas are rich in fiber, vitamin B complex, and calcium. It is also considered to be a protein snack, which helps boost lactation in nursing mothers. Chickpeas can be soaked overnight in water. In the morning, replace the water and boil the chickpeas. Once boiled, you can sprinkle some salt on it. It can be considered as a direct snack or it can be added to some veggies as a salad.
Barley helps promote lactation and also keeps the person well-hydrated throughout the day. You can make a homemade barley solution by boiling some amount of barley in water and consuming the solution throughout the day to keep you well-hydrated. Barley can also be added to vegetable preparations.
11. Brown Rice
Brown rice or unprocessed rice is one of the healthiest options instead of white processed rice. In brown rice, it is only the outer most hull that is removed. Brown rice is known to provide extra energy, which is very much required for mothers to carry out so many tasks after delivery. This food is known to deal with certain issues such as disturbed sleeping patterns and mood changes. It also helps improve a person's appetite. Brown rice is known to stimulate the lactation hormone, which helps boost a mother's milk supply.
Asparagus is considered as a powerhouse food, especially for nursing mothers since it is rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin, K, and vitamin C. It also helps increase the body's hormones, which are required for lactation.
Asparagus is considered as a must-have food for all nursing mothers. To ensure that the supply of milk increases, wash some asparagus and finely chop them. Add the chopped asparagus to milk and let it boil. After boiling, strain the mixture and consume it.
13. Sesame Seeds
Sesame is known to be rich in calcium, which helps boost the supply of breast milk. Both varieties of sesame seeds (black and white) are beneficial for lactating mothers. Uncrushed seeds are not much beneficial since they would have the husk and would pass through the digestive system. Hence, try going for the crushed seeds to make the most out of this food. One can consume sesame seeds in the form of a paste and spread it as a salad dressing or add them in vegetables.
14. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds are one of the richest sources of iron. However, cumin seeds must only be taken in moderation. These seeds are popularly known for their fantastic flavor and digestive-related properties. Cumin seeds are widely used as a spice to a variety of gravy recipes to make them more exotic. You can also add a pinch of cumin seeds to buttermilk or milk.
Another great source of iron, as well as calcium, is the drumstick vegetable, which is also very good for lactating mothers. This vegetable is known to boost the immune system and enhances the nervous system of the baby and the mother. Drumsticks can be steamed and consumed as part of a vegetable preparation.
16. Poppy Seeds
Poppy seeds have the benefit of providing a soothing or calming effect to mothers during the lactation period. Poppy seeds also possess several sedative properties, which helps relax and calm the mind as well as the body. However, it should be consumed in moderation since its excessive consumption can also cause harm to the body. You can roast poppy seeds and add it to hot milk along with some sugar or you can use them in the preparation of porridges or puddings.
Nuts are regarded as good snack items for everyone. A handful of nuts would not cause harm to the body. There are certain nuts that boost the production of milk such as almonds and cashews. These nuts are also a rich source of good fats, which are required for the mother and her baby. It contains omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, which helps stimulate the lactation hormones in the mother to increase the production of milk. You can opt for the raw forms of nuts or add them in warm milk or oatmeal for consumption.
Ginger also effectively promotes the production of breast milk in lactating mothers. Ginger is something that is easily found in every home since it is also used in the preparation of a lot of food items. Try consuming fresh ginger rather than ginger supplements by adding it in tea or in any recipes. However, mothers who lost a significant amount of blood at childbirth should not consume raw ginger since it can lead to an increased risk of hemorrhage.
Regular water intake is a must for all breastfeeding mothers to keep them hydrated at all times. If nursing mothers are well-hydrated, their milk also increases after every feed. It also helps replace any fluids lost during childbirth or nursing stage. Drink water according to your body’s requirement or when you feel thirsty.