When I was breastfeeding, I was always researching more ways to help boost milk supply when I started going back to work. I wanted to put together a list of all the things to do and eat from all researching I did that I tested out with successful results. Whether you’re trying to build up a month supply for your freezer or just simply trying to build your milk production back up, some of these ingredients really help in boosting supply for many mothers. Everyone’s body is different, so one method may work for one person, but not for another. Either way, these methods are worth a try. Some of these are from old Asian traditions that have been passed on for many generations for new mothers.
I know not a lot of mothers have time to read through all this, so I made a straight-to-the-point list you can read through at the bottom of the blog post. You can skip to it by clicking here.
It’s important to start adding healthy galactagogue ingredients to your diet soon after delivery and keep steady intake of these, especially in the first 3-4 months. During these first few months is when your body will overproduce milk, making it easier to build up a large freezer supply later (if that’s what you’re aiming for). For most women, around 5 months is when the body will began to regulate the lactation, and produce less or just enough to feed your baby. So it is VERY important to consistently pump and breastfeed to make sure it doesn’t drop dramatically during that time. Many mothers I’ve talked to, pumped an hour before and after breastfeeding. If you’re a working mom, it’s best to be consistent with your routine because once you go back to work, for most moms, there will be a slow decrease in milk production. Try not to go more than 3 hours without pumping or breast feeding.
Why is it important to pump right after breastfeeding?
As my lactation specialist explained to me, which makes total sense, pumping after breastfeeding makes sure your breasts are complete empty of any milk that is left over. It lets your body know that it needs to keep making more. When you don’t completely empty out your breast after your baby breast feeds, your body feels like it’s making enough, so it doesn’t try to over compensate. So your supply doesn’t increase as quickly. I was able to quickly build up a supply in my freezer by doing this during my second pregnancy. I was never able to do that during my first pregnancy…I only made just enough for my first child. But now, I have built up an oversupply from pumping every time after breastfeeding. It’s a lot of work, but paid off!
Menstruation, not eating enough calories, and Decreased Milk supply
If you have started menstruating, you will notice a decrease in production during the week of your period. Don’t panic! It will go back up once your menstrual period is done. During this time, if you’ve already built up a supply in the freezer, perfect…You’re all set for if your baby needs more than you can supply during this time, depending on low your supply drops. If not, there’s always formula to help out during those weeks (or the frozen milk you stored up during your over supply period!).
Sometimes the day can get busy and you might not have time to eat a full meal or something nourishing. We’ve all been there. By the end of the day, some may notice that takes a toll on the milk production. You can still get it back up by eating right. That’s why it’s so important to just take a little time to make sure you are eating and resting well.
Now lets get on to my list of top ingredients. These are based from all the information I gathered through talking with other mothers, my own experience and research.
Galactagogues That Boosts Breastmilk Supply
Moringa (known in the Philippines as malunggay)
This leaf is found in many tropical areas of the world and is used in a lot of Asian cuisine, especially in the Philippines. Moringa have been used as a galactagogue for many years, as well as for overall good health as it has many beneficial affects on the body. Not only does it aid in the increase of lactation, it’s packed with antioxidants and known to lower cholesterol and blood sugar. There has been statements of precaution when using moringa, only because not enough studies have been conducted about it’s side affects on the baby. With that in mind, many women have relied on it for increase in production for many years in the Philippines with no known signs of negative affects on their babies. So, just proceed with caution.
I tried it for 2-3 months and have noticed some increase. My supply didn’t double by “100%” like it did for some people I’ve read about, but it did increase a good 1-2 oz. It could be also that I only take 1 tsp of it,in powder form, a day. I started using it around 6 months when my supply has already decreased. I usually add it in my smoothie. By the way, careful about taking too much of this..it’s a laxative! My husband learned the hard way.
Another popular galactagogue food in Asian culture. This unripe fruit works its magic by increasing the production of oxytocin (the hormone that regulates milk production). My mom prepared for me papaya soup to eat for my weeks after delivery. I did notice that everytime I ate the soup, there was an increase in production in the next few times I pumped. It was at least an 1-2 oz increase during each session.
There are many ways to prepare green papaya. You can eat it in a smoothie, soup, or salad. During the cold winter months after delivery, it was a very comforting soup to have. One of my favorite is chicken and green papaya soup.
My friend stopped by to visit after I gave birth to my second child and brought over her mom’s Korean seaweed soup (miyeok-guk) with short ribs. This was my first time having this soup, and it was one of the most comforting and delicious soups! It was so good, I wanted to make it to have some for the following week. This soup is usually made with beef or with seafood, with the main ingredient being seaweed.
My uncle has a friend whose wife consumed this regularly after her baby was born, and she produced a freezer full of milk over time. This is a very traditional thing eat for new moms in Chinese and Vietnamese culture. This is normally prepared in a soup, flavored with ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and onions. I have yet to try this to see how well it works, but I hear many great results.
Oatmeal, Flaxseed, and Brewer’s Yeast
I’m putting these three ingredients into one group on the list because they go great together. This can be enjoyed in a form of a smoothie, bowl of oatmeal, or cookie. I liked how everything tasted together. My favorite way to consume it was in a smoothie, since I can mix fruits into it and drink it on the run. I like oatmeal and all, but lets admit, a bowl of oatmeal everyday gets a little boring to eat after a 1-2 weeks (let alone a month). These three ingredients have successfully kept my supply up and steady for months. It’s my favorite out of everything on the list because it’s easy to make, super healthy, and doesn’t make you smell like maple syrup….which brings me to my next ingredient…
Many people reported that this made them smell like maple syrup. I tried this in pill form. I took two pills 2-3 times a day and it did noticeably increase my supply after the 2nd of 3rd day of taking it. I can see what people mean when they mentioned smelling like maple syrup. It wasn’t my favorite, but it did work. This can be taken in a form of a pill, cooked into dishes, or infused in a drink. After my supply took a dip after working and starting my baby on solids around 4 months, I increased my dosage to 4 pills twice a day.
Mother’s Milk Tea
This is a great herbal tea for boosting lactation. It’s packed with all kinds of good stuff to help increase milk production. It doesn’t taste that great to me, but when I add almond milk to it, it’s not too bad. It has a little bit of anise and licorice taste to it. Three cups a day is recommended.
Body Armour, and…Blue Gatorade?
This was something I came across in a mom’s forum. Many moms swore by this. It seemed oddly specific that Gatorade in a specific color has been claimed to boost milk supply for so many moms out there. I decided to try it out, and guess what? It did seem to work. I tried it when I was making my regular amount of breastmilk and also when I noticed a dip in my supply, just to compare. When my supply was low, I drank about two cups of the Gatorade 15 minutes before breastfeeding and pumping to help give it a little boost. I usually drank this around the time when I know my supply will be at its lowest…and that’s usually in the middle of the night or early morning, when I feel dehydrated. Not sure what the blue has to do with it, but many claim it could just be the electrolytes giving you that boost. I try not too drink too much Gatorade because of the sugar content and coloring. Body Armour is a slightly better alternative sports drink to Gatorade, though still has too much sugar to be drinking daily. Just keep in mind how much sugar you’re getting before you guzzle down too many bottles of these drinks!
It’s a healthier alternative to Gatorade and other sports drinks, which can really add up the sugar content you get per day if you’re not careful. Coconut water has less sugar that most sports drinks, it has electrolytes and has great nutritional value.
Last but definitely not least, DRINK LOTS OF WATER! This is always something I drink a lot of everyday in general…But especially during pregnancy and breast feeding. I followed other moms’ advices from their experience and drank about 32 oz of water every hour or so (that’s 4 cups of water), on top of pumping after every breastfeeding session. Those two things alone drastically increased my milk production. So be sure to drink lots of water and get a lot of rest. Those two things play a big role in producing milk. None of the above ingredients will matter if you’re not well hydrated and sleeping well.
Please feel free to contact me with questions or need advice! I’m not a doctor, but will try my best to give you some insight from my own personal research and experiences.
|Galactagogues||Important Things to keep in mind|
2. Green Papaya
3. Seaweed Soup
4. Pigs Feet Soup
5. Oatmeal, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast
6. Fenugreek Seed
7. Blue Gatorade/Body Armour Sports Drinks
8. Coconut water
|1. Drink plenty of water|
2. Get enough sleep (or try to!)
3. Pump right after breastfeeding (15-20 minutes)
4. Eat enough calories
5. Eat healthy, balanced meals (eat your veggies and protein!)