For a new mother, having sufficient breast milk supply postpartum is essential as it ensures that the baby is getting essential nutrients that are required for his proper growth and development. If your breast milk supply is less, no doubt, you will be concerned. However, many effective lactation supplements can help increase your milk supply, and not all of these supplements come in the form of capsules.
People widely believe that when a mother gets enough calories, the quality and quantity of her milk is good. However, it is not just about eating foods rich in calories. What a new mother eats is also important. If you are a breastfeeding mother, your diet influences the quality and nutritional content of your breast milk. Most women are suggested to take galactagogues as it can increase the breast milk supply. Galactagogues are herbs, foods or medications that can be consumed to increase breast milk supply. They work best in women with low prolactin levels. However, they should be used with caution as sometimes they may affect your health negatively. A new mother should take ample rest, stay well hydrated, and eat nutritious snacks and food. And lactation supplements should only be used after consulting with a doctor.
Lactation Supplements That Can Help Increase Milk Supply
Supplements from a Bottle
1. Placenta Encapsulation and Whole-food Multivitamins
The human placenta contains progesterone and is now available as capsules in the market. As the amount of progesterone is increased in the bloodstream, the milk supply also increases. Consuming placenta capsules also has other benefits like increased iron levels, mood and hormone stabilisation, and feeling of well-being. It also prepares your body for breastfeeding. The dosage of capsules will depend on your health, your difficulties with milk supply, and your sleep. Whole-food multivitamin tablets will also make sure that your body gets the essential nutrients that will help improve the supply of breast milk.
2. Prescription Medication
Domperidone is a prescription drug taken for gastrointestinal disorders, but it also helps in boosting the breast milk supply. This must be used only under medical supervision. This is not recommended to women with a history of cardiac problems. Also, before taking this medication, inform your doctor about any other medication you are taking.
Metoclopramide is also a prescription drug that can be used to treat gastrointestinal disorders and for increasing the breast milk supply. It crosses the blood-brain barrier unlike domperidone but has certain side effects like drowsiness, restlessness, fatigue, and depression. Use of this medication might increase the feelings of depression in women who already feel vulnerable. Therefore, it should only be taken after consulting with a doctor.
Probiotics help with digestion as they are good bacteria that help the body absorb nutrients more efficiently. Healthy gut flora helps in boosting breast milk production and is also necessary for your overall well-being. You will be able to find probiotic capsules at the local pharmacy, and you can take them as directed on the package. However, there is no harm in consulting with a doctor before taking probiotics.
4. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil has been found to benefit both infants and the breastfeeding mother as they contain good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Omega-3 fatty acids help in brain development of the baby and in increasing breast milk production. These capsules should be taken as directed on the bottle.
Supplements from Herbs and Food
There are many herbs and foods that can assist in increasing your breast milk supply. Following are the herbs and foods you can include in your diet to increase your breast milk supply.
5. Organic Quinoa and Oats
Quinoa is a grain-like seed that is rich in protein and contains all the eight essential amino acids. It contains saponins, which the body uses as precursors for hormone production, including pituitary hormones that help in stimulating lactation. Quinoa is also a rich source of Vitamin E, potassium, selenium, zinc, magnesium, iron, riboflavin, and folate.
Oatmeal is high in fibre and is a great source of iron. For breastfeeding mothers, a bowl of oatmeal with flaxseed, cinnamon, dried berries, and walnuts is an excellent way to start the day. Oatmeal contains saponins that have antibiotic effects. A bowl of oatmeal per day will ensure a steady breast milk supply.
6. Beetroot Leaves and Spinach
Spinach and beet leaves are excellent sources of iron, calcium, and vitamins and help increase breast milk supply. Eating beetroot can keep your haemoglobin levels stable and replenish the essential minerals in your body. Thus, beets are nourishing for anaemic mothers. Beets and spinach also contain detoxifying agents and provide strength to the mother and baby. Certain plant chemicals are also found in spinach that will help prevent breast cancer.
Protein is essential for development and growth. When you are lactating, your body produces breast milk by using the protein you consume. The easiest way to make sure that you have enough amount of protein in your diet is by having a protein and carbohydrate-rich snack during every nursing session. Wholefood sources such as grass-fed animal protein, nuts and seeds, hemp seeds, lentils, and legumes can also increase your breast milk supply.
8. Green Papaya
Green papaya is a galactagogue that is known for its vitamins, enzymes, and minerals. It is especially rich in Vitamins A and C. One small green papaya has around 100 milligrams of vitamin C. The recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin C for women who are lactating is only between 115 to 120 mg per day. Since green papaya is unripe; you can simmer it until the fruit is soft enough to be consumed. Green papaya helps increase the production of oxytocin which thus further enhances the milk production in women.
Alfalfa is a herb belonging to the pea family. Its scientific name is Medicago sativa. It is safe and non-toxic for both the mother and the baby and is known to increase breast milk production. Excessive consumption of alfalfa can cause diarrhoea in both the infant and the breastfeeding mom. So, talk to your doctor before including it in your diet to enhance lactation.
10. Fenugreek and Sesame Seeds
Fenugreek is a well-known galactagogue in Ayurveda that has been used to increase breast milk supply since ancient times. Fenugreek seeds contain hormone precursors that can help increase in milk supply. However, fenugreek is not for everybody. In some women, they might cause aggravated asthma symptoms and might rapidly lower blood glucose levels in women with diabetes. So, talk to your doctor before including fenugreek in your diet.
Sesame seeds are loaded with minerals like copper, manganese, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc and also serve as an effective galactagogue.
You could also try other foods that are nutrient-rich like eggs or hummus. You can have them in breakfast as these foods will keep your energy levels up and help improve the nutrient content of your breast milk. Include plenty of fresh fruits, whole grains, vegetables, dairy, lean meats, and enough water in your diet when you are breastfeeding. And before that, consult with your doctor to determine which lactation supplement is right for you.