The plain and simple truth of the matter is that what you eat affects the baby you are breastfeeding. Which is why it’s important for breastfeeding mums to eat a nutritious, balanced meal, so that your milk is of optimum quality. However, with some mums, the concern is not so much about the nutritional content of their milk, but more about simply having milk to begin with. If you have low milk supply, your doctor or lactation consultant will advise you to increase the number of feeds and allow your baby to breastfeed as long as she needs.
If you’re struggling with low milk supply, and have ruled out other possible causes like excessive fatigue (because, let’s face it, all mums are tired), clogged ducts or a poor latch, it might be time to turn to some of these power foods to bring your supply up to meet your baby’s growing needs.
Fish and papaya soup
Long believed to have much value for the young mum by the Chinese, pui yuet is a traditional staple during the confinement month. A basic version of this rich soup consists of fish, young or green papaya, ginger, water and salt. The ingredients are boiled together until the water turns a milky colour.
While there is no medical evidence to support the premise that this soup increases your milk supply, there is the backing of many personal testimonies of women who have found it helpful. Besides, fish is a great source of protein, and papayas are packed full of minerals and vitamins A, C and E.
Dark leafy greens
Did you know that dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale, are rich in calcium and promote lactation? But few of us would like to munch on greens on their own. Tender chunks of chicken breast, along with some spinach salad, cherry tomatoes and red wine/vinegar make a tasty and quick lunch. The chicken breast is a good source of protein and the greens provide calcium, and are a good source of folate and vitamins as well.
Oatmeal – eaten cooked in any form – is another healthful and lactogenic food, and can also help boost milk supply. An easy and quick snack recipe could be whole cut oats mixed with plain yogurt and fresh fruit or honey. You can also find recipes for oatmeal bars, cookies and homemade granola online.
Nuts, in general, are very healthy, and almond nuts, in particular, are rich in calcium content. Pop them into your mouth whole, or include them in your bakes or salad mixes. They’re great for protein too!
Lots of water
The typical human body needs about 2 litres of water a day. Do ensure that you are getting adequate fluids, as water is, of course, essential for milk production. That said, don’t go overboard on the drinking, as too much water can ironically decrease your supply, and leave you feeling bloated or uncomfortable.
These are not ‘foods’ per se, but over-the-counter supplements you can get from your local medicinal halls or pharmacies. Fenugreek, blessed thistle, alfalfa, red clover and marshmallow root are the most common, easily available supplements that support lactation. However, do educate yourself about the risks and benefits of these substances before consuming them, and check with your doctor or lactation consultant before proceeding.
By Dorothea Chow
This article is part of Breastfeeding with Love campaign, initiated by The New Age Parents and New Age Pregnancy.
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