[Updated: November 2016]
I got a call from my friend who blessed with a baby girl. She was having a tough time while nursing. Her two months old daughter feels hungry even after nursing for 35-40 minutes. She was worried that her breastmilk supply was not sufficient to satisfy the hunger of her baby.
I told her that fenugreek is the proven food to increase breastmilk quickly.
Being a mom, I also had nursing issues four years back when my son was born. I almost cried many times that I couldn’t feed my baby enough. During that time I read about different ways and super foods for breastfeeding.
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Nursing phase is a crucial time for a new mom and whatever you eat in your diet will affect your breastmilk supply. Eat well while you are breastfeeding. Introduce lactation-induced foods (galactagogues) in your diet to boost breast milk supply.
A natural way of increasing breastmilk supply is to nurse your baby frequently.
More you will nurse, more the milk will be produced. Let’s talk about the foods which can help lactating moms to improve breast milk. You can include few of the suggesting foods in your diet and see the magnificent results.
Note – All the herbs based foods should be taken in moderate form. And if your baby has an intolerance to any particular food then you should cut down or avoid that food.
Seeds to quickly increase breast milk
#1. Fenugreek Seeds ( Methi )
This is the herb which my gynecologist suggested me when I had lactation issues. Fenugreek is a rich source of protein, iron & vitamin C.
Fenugreek helps in increasing breastmilk supply in nursing moms.
Note: If you are prone to asthma or allergies, use fenugreek with caution.
Easy way to use Fenugreek for boosting breast milk
For Indian families, it is very easy and accessible to use in food recipes.
- You can toss fenugreek seeds in curries.
- Can eat sprouted seeds with milk.
- Try fenugreek Tea, really a healthy choice. Just boil 1 tsp of methi seeds in water, strain it and drink when warm.
- Soak methi seeds in a glass of water for 7-8 hours and drink it empty stomach in the morning.
- You can have methi laddoo as famous Indian dessert for new moms.
#2. Fennel Seeds ( Saunf )
Fennel seeds are also effective in boosting breast milk supply. Regular use of fennel seeds helps in reducing bloating and improve digestion too.
Using fennel seeds to boost milk supply
- You can simply eat 1 tsp of fennel seeds after meal as mouth freshener
- You can add seeds into snacks, curries or desserts. I personally add fennel seeds in poha, pancakes.
- Soak 1 tsp of fennel seeds in a glass of water. Drink that glass of water first thing in the morning.
- Just boil fennel seeds in your milk & have it. Highly effective solution for nursing moms.
- Can try fennel seeds tea and have it warm.
#3. Cumin Seeds ( Jeera )
This herb was suggested by my grandmother when I had low milk supply. It has an ability to aid in digestion, improve immunity & lactation.
Usage of cumin seeds for breastmilk supply
- You can dry roast cumin seeds & grind it. Add as a seasoning in snacks, raita, and buttermilk.
- You can use fried or roasted cumin seeds in curries and soups.
- Its taste enhancer too.
#4. Carom Seeds ( Ajwain )
It is a commonly used Indian herb. It is known to aid digestion, stomach ache, give quick relief from gas problem & constipation. It also helps to increase milk production in nursing mothers.
Easy ways to use carom seeds to increase breastmilk
- Use ajwain seeds in vegetables, curries & chapati as seasoning & garnishing.
- Have a teaspoon of ajwain seeds, add a pinch of salt and have it with water.
- You can boil ajwain seeds in water, strain it & drink it. You can also replace your plain water with ajwain seeds water for initial few days after delivery. Very helpful tip for new moms to clean stomach & keep your baby away from gastric problems.
#5. Poppy Seeds ( Khas-Khas)
Poppy seeds have seductive properties which help nursing moms to relax and calm down while breastfeeding. The more relaxed mom feel, more breast milk will produce. But you should take a minimal dose of it.
Usage of poppy seeds
- Dry roast poppy seeds & you can use as seasoning in the salads, porridge.
- Ground poppy seeds can be taken with milk.
- Use it as garnishing on bread while baking.
#6. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are the good source of protein & fiber. Dietary fiber helps to improve the digestive system. Pumpkin seeds provide Omega -3 fatty acid those are important for baby’s brain and nervous system development. It is also natural sources of DHA and alpha-linolenic acid which help nursing moms in breastfeeding supply.
Methods to use pumpkin seeds to boost breastmilk
- Can have roasted salty pumpkin seeds as snacks. Pumpkin seeds are energy dense which means it provides a lot of calories.
- Add pumpkin seeds in Salads.
- Can be used as garnishing in bread baking or granola bars.
#7. Anise Seeds
This herb is used in cooking & ayurvedic medicine. It is used to treat a cough & cold, stomach problems like indigestion, bloating & intestinal gas. Don’t confuse Anise Seed with Star Anise. Both are different. S
Don’t get confused Anise Seed with Star Anise. Both are different. Star anise seeds should be avoided in the pregnancy & breastfeeding.
Anise seeds help to boost milk supply & remove clogged in milk glands which increase blood circulation around your nipples. All herbs should be taken in moderate form.
Usage of anise seeds
- Can have one spoon of anise seeds as mouth freshener & chew it.
- You can have it with milk or water.
#8. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds help the lactating moms to boost their metabolism and increase breastmilk supply. Chia seeds are rich in protein, fiber, and omega-3 fats. Intake of chia seeds can be really helpful for moms after delivery.
It’s an excellent dietary supplement which supports to improve digestive problems and soften stools. It helps to lose post-baby fat.
- Can be added to yogurt and smoothies.
- Soak seeds in water overnight, consume that time in the morning.
- Can be added as garnishing in bread baking.
#9. Sesame Seeds (Til)
Sesame seeds are an excellent source of calcium. It is also a rich source of micro-nutrients which are healthy for nursing moms and babies as well. White & black both kinds of sesame seeds are good, black have just more nutritious value.
Ways to use sesame seeds for breastmilk supply
- You can use sesame seeds oil for cooking
- You may try tahini – healthy dips for your snack.
- You can have til ladoo, popular and healthy Indian dessert.
- Use roasted sesame seeds as garnishing on salads or vegetable preparations.
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Grains, Legumes & Dairy products for increasing milk supply
Oatmeal is a good source of iron. Oatmeal contains fiber and easy to digest. One of the healthiest way to start your day with a bowl of Oatmeal. It is a comfort food for many women. Simple Oatmeal porridge can be prepared in less than 10 minutes.
Usage of Oats
- You can make Oats smoothie.
- Try making oats idli or oats poha, chilla.
- Oats porridge is the easy solution for moms. Have a bowl of oats with a glass of milk .
- You can bake oatmeal cookies or cakes to munch during nursing. Ask me for the recipe of oatmeal cookies if you want to try.
11. Barley (Jau/Jav)
Barley is a great source of fiber, keeps you hydrated. Provide energy for breastfeeding moms.
Usage of barley
- Boil barley in water, strain it and drink.
- Also try barley soup, which also helps to improve digestion.
- You can use barley flour for making multigrain chapati or bread.
It’s a rich source of vegetable protein, calcium, B-complex vitamins & fiber. Also lactation booster for lactating moms.
Easy ways to use chickpeas
- Soak chickpeas overnight. Boil it & have in salads with carrots, spinach.
- You can make chickpea hummus. Very healthy option.
- You can have boiled chickpea as snacks.
- Try making chickpea soup.
#13. Brown Rice
Lactating moms should opt for brown rice instead of white rice. It has high fiber value. Brown rice has hormone stimulants which can boost lactation. It also maintains sugar levels in your body. It helps to increase the appetite and normalize the mood swings . Brown rice helps new mommies to cope with postpartum sleep patterns.
#14. Cow’s Milk
Dairy products are also an important part of your healthy food chart. Milk is a great source of calcium. Having milk regularly helps to maintain calcium level in your body and can also increase milk quantity. Foods like milk, paneer and cheese should intake by lactating moms.
If your baby has milk intolerance then you have to cut down dairy products from your diet. Check the signs like diarrhea, bloating, spitting up for milk protein allergies.
Using cow’s milk to increase breastmilk
- Have one glass of milk with nuts as an early morning breakfast.
- Add milk in porridge or oatmeal.
- Can prepare rice pudding.
Not all the fats are bad for our body. Make sure that you are getting sufficient good fat in your diet.Good fats are the traditional source of fats like peanut oil, coconut oil, olive oil, clarified butter. Use full-fat dairy products in your food which also help to boost breastmilk supply. Fats intake also help in easy bowel movement.
- Drizzle olive oil in your salad
- Prepare your snacks/curries in coconut oil, peanut oil
It’s a great source of probiotics. It also contains high amounts of protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus & vitamin B-12. For lactating moms, It helps to retain protein and calcium in body. Regular intake of yogurt in your diet will boost the immunity and promote a healthy digestive system. Breastfeeding mom should eat yogurt daily if your baby doesn’t have daily products intolerance.
Easy ways to include yogurt in your food
- You can prepare yogurt smoothie
- Have a bowl or yogurt loaded with fruits and nuts
Eggs are an excellent source of animal protein. It contains nutrients, vitamins A, B2, B12, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorous and minerals. Intake of eggs will help you to meet baby’s demand for protein. Eggs improve breastmilk quantity as well as quality. Try to use DHA-fortified eggs which are helpful for brain development and maintenance.
If your baby is allergic to eggs and you notice any kind of symptoms (like nausea, rashes, colic, discomfort, breathing problem, vomiting, swelling) then you should avoid eggs in your diet.
Ways to have eggs in your diet
- You can have soft or hard boiled eggs in the breakfast.
- Prepare egg curry or egg omelet.
Legume is the collective term used for lentils, beans, and dried split peas. legumes are the good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, dietary fiber, lean protein, and iron. Start consuming masoor dal(red-orange color dal) in your diet if you are breastfeeding. Sufficient intake of legumes in your diet can help to improve milk production.
Usage of legumes to increase breastmilk production
- Prepare lentil soup
- Vegetable rice with lots of beans.
- Use in sambar, rasam, idli.
Vegetables for breastfeeding mothers
#19. Spinach ( Palak )
Spinach is high in iron, calcium, folic acid, vitamins, and minerals. It helps nursing moms to recover from post-pregnancy anemia. Spinach can be good for nursing mothers. It also helps to detoxify your body.
- Can eat cooked or raw salad.
- Thick leaves best suited for cooking and delicate young leaves can use for salad.
#20. Carrots ( Gajar )
Carrots contain alpha and beta-carotene that help in producing more breastmilk. It also contains Vitamin A which surely boost lactation hormones.
Usage of carrots
- You can have carrots sticks with low-fat yogurt dip or as the snack.
- Can have 1 or 2 glasses of carrot juice in your diet daily.
#21. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is rich in beta-carotene (Vitamin A) which helps to increase breast milk supply. It also contains phosphorus,vitamin B1 & B2, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, copper, vitamin B6. Sweet potatoes are the source of magnesium which is the mineral known for benefits of relaxation and anti-stress. Sweet Potatoes contains iron and promote healthy digestive system.
- Can make oven roasted sweet potatoes wedges
- Can make carrot and sweet potato soup, a healthy option.
- If you are looking for dessert then try sweet potato pudding.
#22. Garlic ( Lehsun )
As garlic has herbal properties, it has been used for years to stimulate breast milk supply. If your little one suffers from colic then avoid having garlic in your diet. Intake of 2 to 3 garlic cloves daily aids in breast milk production in new mothers.
Ways to use garlic to increase breastmilk supply
You can use it easily without any specific effort as it is commonly used kitchen ingredient.
- Add garlic to soup, curries and vegetables. It is a great taste enhancer, used in many cuisines.
- Prepare garlic rice
- Use garlic in chutneys or in bread baking to enhance the taste.
#23. Ginger (Adrak)
It’s a powerful herb, commonly used in cooking & has medicinal properties. It is used to treat many kinds of health problems like indigestion, sore throat, cough n cold, muscular aches, hypertension, cramps, constipation, vomiting, fever, infectious diseases and so on. Ginger promotes a healthy supply of breast milk for lactating moms.
Best Usage of Ginger
- Can prepare ginger tea, add tulsi & honey for flavors.
- Use in curries and stir-fry vegetables.
#24. Bottle gourd ( Lauki )
Bottle gourd is highly nutritious and breast milk inducer. It’s a seasonal vegetable with high water content. It helps to keep your body hydrated. Easy to digest and aids in lactation.
How to use bottle gourd
- Have a freshly homemade bottle gourd juice, you can add a small amount of lemon and mint as a taste enhancer.
- It can be taken in the form of curries , vegetable or stir fries.
- Try making bottle gourd desserts like pudding, burfi.
#25. Drumstick / Moringa Leaves
Drumstick , a nutritious green vegetable having high iron and calcium content. It’s a good option for lactating moms. Drumstick is used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers. Drumstick / Moringa leaves powder has been given to nursing moms to increase breast milk as it stimulates the mammary glands.
- Juice from fresh drumsticks. You can add lemon & mint for flavoring. You can prepare juice by combining drumsticks with bottle gourd.
- You can use drumsticks in curries & vegetables like sambar
This green vegetable is a great source of dietary fiber, Vitamin A & K. It stimulates lactation hormones in breastfeeding moms. Asparagus boosts digestive process.
You can have grilled or steamed asparagus.
#27. Green Papaya
Green papaya has many nutritional benefits. Papaya has essential nutrients and enzymes which boost digestive system. Papaya is good to treat constipation and bowel movements.
Usage of green papaya
- You can have green papaya as the salad, a popular dish in south Asian cuisine.
- Try green papaya soup.
#28. Bitter gourd (karela)
This green bitter vegetable is Low in calories, a good source of folates, rich in phytonutrients and dietary fiber. It helps nursing moms to boost milk supply. It helps to detoxifies the liver and the body and develop immunity It improves digestion, has anti-oxidant vitamins A & C. In India, it is highly used by diabetic patients to maintain blood sugar level in the body as well. So if you are a diabetic mom, then it has double benefits for you.
Usage of bitter gourd
- Can have bitter gourd juice daily. Add mint, lemon or bottle gourd for flavoring.
- Can cook as a stir-fry.
Herbs to increase breast milk
Shatavari is a popular galactagogue used to improve the breast milk quantity as well as quality. It is one of the powerful herbs. Should be used in a moderate form. This herb stimulates the breastfeeding hormones, which are essential for successful breastfeeding. Shatavari supplement is highly recommended by most of the pediatricians in India.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is one of the oldest, highly nutritious herb. This herb is a rich source of protein, fiber, Vitamin A ,Vitamin C, and minerals. It is also low in saturated fat , high in antioxidants, used to treat high blood pressure and to detoxify the blood.
Alfalfa is believed to be a galactagogue which helps the lactating moms to boost milk production. Alfalfa is the main food source for dairy animals to increase milk production.
Usage of alfalfa to boost milk production
- You can have sprouted alfalfa in soups & Salads
- You can try alfalfa tea, which is made from dried alfalfa leaves. Just boil in the water & drink.
- It is also available as supplement tablets / capsules, but you should consult the doctor before taking any supplement.
#31. Turmeric (Haldi)
It is a powerful spice having medical properties. This herb is widely used in cooking. It is an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of diseases. Also popular for its antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant properties. Turmeric helps nursing moms to increase milk supply and also prevents from breast infections. You should consume this herb in small quantity.
Turmeric for breastfeeding mothers
- Add ½ tsp of turmeric in one glass warm milk.
- Add turmeric in curries / vegetables.
#32. Blessed Thistle
Blessed thistle is considered to be a galactagogue, used by breastfeeding moms to increase low milk supply. It is used in combination with Fenugreek for best results, but you can also use it with other herbs like fennel, alfalfa.
Usage of Blessed Thistle in boosting milk supply
- Blessed Thistle Tea, available in the market. You can drink 2-3 cups of blessed thistle tea per day.
- If you are looking for supplement capsules then consult your lactation consultant first for best dose.
#33. Dill Leaves
Dill leaves help in boosting milk production in breastfeeding moms. Dill leaves are high in fiber, the rich source of vitamin K, A, C, antioxidants, and minerals.
Usage of Dill Leaves
- Add raw dill leaves in your meal as seasonings.
- Brew dill leaves in water & drink it as tea.
#34. Basil Leaves ( Tulsi )
Holy basil leaves are the good source of thiamine, iron, niacin, Vitamin K and carotene. According to Ayurveda, it has been used to help nursing mothers to increase milk supply. Basil leaves are great sources of antioxidants. Intake of tulsi leaves boost immunity of mother & baby and keep your newborn away from many diseases. Tulsi leaves have a calming effect too.
Basil leaves for breastfeeding moms
- Boil few leaves of basil in one glass of milk, strain it & drink it warm.
- Tulsi / Basil Tea: Boil leaves in water, strain it. You can add one spoon of honey to enhance the taste. Have it once or twice daily.
- You can include it in curries too. Try Thai curries.
Other Foods to increase breast milk
#35. Lean Meats / Seafood
If you are a non-vegetarian, then certain types of food choices can be helpful for breastfeeding moms. Lean meats (i.e beef and pork), fish and seafood (salmon and tuna are good choices), poultry (chicken and turkey) are healthy choices to have for breastfeeding moms.
#36. Water & Juices
One of the basic rules of successful breastfeeding is to hydrate yourself. You don’t need to drink gallons of water. Just keep a water bottle around you so that when you are nursing your baby and feel thirsty. You have water to drink. Drink 2-3 glasses of juice in your daily diet. It will give you lots of energy too.
#37. Almonds & other nuts
Nuts are quick energy booster & the great source of proteins. If you are looking for the non-dairy source of calcium then Almond is the answer. Almonds are rich in Vitamin E & Omega 3 too. Omega-3 helps to boost lactation hormones. For lactating moms, Intake of almonds and other nuts in your daily diet help to increase breast milk production. You can have peanuts, cashew nuts also along with almonds.
How breastfeeding moms can use Almonds
- Have roasted almonds, peanuts or cashew nuts as snacks.
- You can soak almonds for 2 hours then grind it with milk and have that milk.
- Add chopped almonds, cashew nuts in your oatmeal, porridge or snack.
#38. Lactation Tea / Milk Tea
These are not teas made with milk. These teas are made of different herbs which help to lactate moms to boost milk production. Have lactation tea 2-3 times in a day. It will surely help to increase your milk supply.
#39. Brewer’s Yeast
Brewer’s yeast is highly nutritious & made from a fungus. Its rich source of iron,chromium, protein, vitamin B & other minerals. It also helps to low cholesterol level in blood. Brewer’s Yeast, a galactagogue used by breastfeeding moms to increase breastmilk production. It is a nutritional supplement during breastfeeding which also combat postpartum exhaustion & baby blue.
Talk to your doctor before taking any lactation supplement.
If you see any kind of reactions in your baby like discomfort, diarrhea or colic then you should cut down or avoid the intake of brewer’s yeast.
Eating apricots can also boost your breastmilk supply. Whole fresh apricots contain fiber, calcium, and Vitamin C & A. Dried apricots can also be a good alternate to balance your hormone level.
Using Apricots for increasing breastmilk
- Have a bowl of freshly cleaned apricots as mid time snack.
- Try apricots pie as dessert.
- Include apricots and other nuts in your porridge & oatmeal.
During nursing, milk production removes sugar from the blood, so nursing mom needs to balance glucose(sugar) in her body. Dates are best alternate to maintain sugar level in the body. it’s a naturally sweet food. Dates are very rich in calcium and iron elements which help breast-feeding moms to increase milk production.
It is popular lactogenic food for its nutritious benefits. It also contains potassium, Vitamin A, and fiber.
Usage of dates
- You can have dried dates as snack
- Can prepare cakes, puddings, pies using dates. Dates serve as a natural sweetener in desserts.
Salmon is a rich source of Essential Fatty acids, Omega-3 and Vitamin D which your baby needs for healthy brain development. Salmon helps in lactation. Salmon is a nutritious option for breastfeeding moms. Include salmon to your diet and it will surely boost your lactation hormone.
Usage of salmon
- You can try fried or grilled Salmon.
- Also, it can be taken in the form of curry with fried brown rice. Healthy lunch option.
#43. Lactation Cookies
These moist and super yummy cookies help nursing moms to boost breastmilk supply. It’s a rich combination of all eh ingredients which help to increase breastmilk supply like eggs, oats, fat, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and so on.. You can either try to bake lactation cookies at home or have market bought one.
A key to successful breastfeeding is to nurse your baby frequently. Adding these foods into your diet can help to increase your breastfeeding milk supply. Good position & perfect latch are essential for breastfeeding. Keeping your body hydrated and taking enough rest are also important for you.
Enjoy this bonding time with your little one. Breastfeeding time is also a skin to skin contact time for you and your newborn.
Disclaimer: All these home remedies to increase the breastmilk are from my experience, expert advice, and research.