The first days and weeks after you bring your baby home are often filled with questions and a couple (or maybe more than a couple) of concerns. One of the biggest, if you choose to breastfeed, is whether or not your baby is getting enough to eat.
As breasts don’t have helpful millilitre marks on them, it can be very difficult to ascertain just how much your little one if drinking, leading to all sorts of anxiety amongst new mums.
Even experienced breastfeeding mums are not immune from concerns about their milk levels. Stress, sleep deprivation, sickness and diet can all play a role in the ebb and flow of your supply. One of the most common concerns is whether or not you can try to lose baby weight while breastfeeding, as myths abound as to the effect weight loss can have on supply.
When it comes to your milk supply, it’s not so much weight loss that’s the issue, more so the way you choose to lose weight. Dramatically reducing calories, restricting certain food groups or engaging in high intensity exercise can all play a role in reducing your supply. On the other hand, undertaking a healthy eating plan that focuses on providing your body (and baby) with all the nutrients you need, may actually help support your supply, especially if you’ve struggled to eat properly in the past.
Ensuring that you’re including regular, nutritious meals that contain adequate amounts of protein, carbs and healthy fats in your diet is essential for both your milk supply and own health. A healthy baby needs a healthy mum so taking care of your own health is absolutely vital, especially when breastfeeding.
A healthy and varied diet can help support a healthy supply as well as give you lots of energy, but what about foods and herbs that are reported to give a visible boost to your milk levels? These menu items, commonly referred to as lactogenic foods or herbs, are said to help increase your milk production, boosting your supply temporarily. It is often thought that by boosting your supply, your baby will eat more, which will then encourage your breasts to continue to produce a higher level of milk.
The scientific community errs on the side of caution when commenting on the actual evidential proof that certain foods or herbs can increase milk production, but the anecdotal evidence from other mums often hints strongly at the success of food and/or herbs in boosting their supply. Provided you don’t have any allergies to these foods or herbs, or go overboard, there’s no reason why you can’t include them in your diet if you are concerned about your supply.
The most commonly recommended lactogenic foods and herbs are:
- Carrots and spinach
- Legumes like chickpeas and lentils
- Brown rice
- Brewers yeast
- Ground linseed or LSA mix
- Fenugreek tea or tablets
A Healthy Mummy smoothie is a great option as it contains all the essential elements of a nutritious meal, along with ingredients like fenugreek and flaxseed that can help support your supply. A smoothie for breakfast and/or lunch is a quick and easy way to ensure you’re eating well, even when you’re pushed for time – and we suggest snacking in between meals too. You can read more about Healthy Mummy smoothies and breastfeeding here.