Is Eating Garlic during Breastfeeding Safe?

Eating Garlic During Breastfeeding – Benefits and Side Effects

Medically Reviewed By
Shruti Kanchan (Lactation Specialist)
View more Lactation Specialist Our Panel of Experts

Garlic has an important place in Indian cuisine. Its pungent smell and sharp flavour make any dish appetizing. But many people don’t like it as its taste remains even after brushing the teeth. However, it is recommended that you add garlic into your diet due to its wide range of medicinal values. Pregnant women and breastfeeding women can also benefit from garlic, as long as it is consumed in moderate amounts. To know more about the benefits and side effects of eating garlic during breastfeeding, read this article.

Video : Is It Safe to Eat Garlic While Breastfeeding?

Can You Eat Garlic While Breastfeeding?

Garlic is absolutely safe to eat during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. It contains a chemical ‘alliin‘ which is enzymatically converted to ‘allicin‘, which is believed to be the chief reason behind the medicinal properties and the strong odour of garlic.

Health Benefits of Garlic for Nursing Mothers

Garlic contains a host of vitamins, minerals, and medicinal compounds that improve the functioning of the body. It also has a whole lot of other benefits as well. Here is why you should include garlic in your diet:

1. Good for the Heart

Garlic compounds are known to enhance the dilatory capacities of blood vessels, easing the circulation of the blood throughout the body. This further reduces the strain on the heart and improves cardiovascular health as a whole.

2. Fights Infections

Garlic strengthens the immune system with its antifungal and antibiotic activities. Consuming garlic while nursing can protect you from dangerous infections caused by yeast and Candida. But it should not be used as topical medicine as it can result in skin burns.

3. Regulates Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

As garlic dilates blood vessels, blood pressure reduces as well. Garlic also helps lower cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

4. Promotes Better Digestion

Garlic is useful in digestive processes as well. It has been shown to stimulate digestion as well as calm down any irritation in the intestines.

5. Stimulates Breast Milk Production

Garlic is known to increase breast milk production as it is a galactagogue (milk boosting ingredient). Further, the compounds in garlic enter the milk and strengthen the baby’s immune system as well. While garlic is an excellent galactagogue, what research does tell us is that consistently and efficiently emptying your breasts is the primary way to build and maintain milk supply. So any galactagogue will work efficiently when the demand and supply of breastfeeding are managed efficiently.

6. Treats the Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Garlic helps in relieving the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition which makes you feel drained out and lethargic constantly.

7. Other Benefits

Garlic is also known to treat conditions like flu, asthma, and insomnia. It also has antioxidants that reduce the risks of ageing-related illnesses like dementia.

Side Effects of Eating Garlic While Breastfeeding

There are a few side-effects of eating raw garlic while breastfeeding that you should watch out for.

  1. Many people say that eating garlic while breastfeeding can make a baby gaseous, but there is no concrete proof for the same.
  2. Some breastfeeding babies cannot bear the smell of garlic in breastmilk and may become fussy or stop feeding.
  3. Overconsumption of garlic can thin the blood, which can be dangerous if you are on anticoagulant medicines.
  4. Garlic can cause allergic reactions in your baby. Hence you must consume it in moderate amounts first; if you notice any signs of allergy in your baby, stop its consumption. Those who are allergic to garlic may also be allergic to onions, leeks, and other members of the lily family. So, watch about before you consume these.
  5. If garlic is consumed in large amounts it can irritate the sensitive lining of your baby’s intestines, causing heartburn and indigestion.

How to Use Garlic to Increase Breastmilk

Simply add garlic to your diet in moderate amounts. Stick to one or two cloves of garlic per day. Garlic can also be used to flavour various dishes, like pasta, gravies, seafood, fried veggies, and so on. This will help with your lactation while you are in your breastfeeding period. The raw form of garlic is preferred. Overcooking or frying will kill all the garlic’s goodness.

A woman takes crushed garlic

Can You Take Garlic Supplements If You Are Nursing?

Consuming garlic in moderate amounts will not cause any harm to you or to your baby. However, garlic supplements are not really recommended as they are deodourised, that is the smell of the garlic is missing. Since babies respond to odour, taking garlic tablets while breastfeeding is also not recommended, as tablets cannot be used as a substitute for fresh garlic. Further, we can never be sure about the safety and efficacy of the dietary supplements available in the market. They may also contain certain ingredients which may not be safe for the baby or the mother. These substances may not be good for the health of your baby, hence it best to avoid taking garlic supplements. Before consuming any natural or medicinal supplements, it is best to be done under the guidance of a medical professional.

Can Garlic Cause Colic in Babies?

Not all babies can tolerate the smell and taste of garlic present in breast milk. They may become annoyed and fussy. If they suffer from colic, giving garlic is not a good idea at all, as it can exacerbate the condition. If you are consuming garlic while breastfeeding and notice any signs of colic in him, try to eliminate garlic entirely from your diet and wait for some time to observe if there is any difference.

Can Garlic Change the Taste of Your Breast Milk?

Yes, garlic contains pungent compounds which can enter your breastmilk, changing its smell and taste.

Garlic Milk Recipe for Breastfeeding Mothers

Garlic milk is a great meal for breastfeeding mothers to increase lactation or milk production. The recipe below serves one person and takes around five minutes to prepare.


  • A few cloves of white garlic
  • Half a cup of milk

How to Prepare

  • Peel the cloves of garlic then cut them into small pieces.
  • Add milk to a saucepan and turn on the stove.
  • Let the garlic pieces to boil in the milk for a few minutes.
  • Stir until milk begins to thicken, then turn off the stove and allow it too cool.
  • You can increase the amount of milk if you want to reduce the pungent flavour of garlic.

Garlic is widely consumed for its various healing properties. However, if you are a nursing mother, make sure that you only consume fresh or cooked garlic. Don’t consume garlic dietary supplements unless your doctor recommends them specifically. If supplements cannot be avoided, find those with an enteric coating so they dissolve in the intestine rather than the stomach. Finally, never give garlic to your baby directly, as his undeveloped digestive system won’t be able to handle the powerful compounds present in it.

Also Read: Consuming Honey During Breastfeeding

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