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10 Foods to Increase Lactation

A galactagogue--your SAT word of the day--is a food, herb, or supplement that aids breast milk supply or ejection. Read our gallery to learn about what you should be eating to help boost your breast milk production.

This gallery is not meant to substitute medical advice--if you have any concerns, contact your physician or a lactation consultant immediately.

1) Water

OK, so water is not technically a food, but it is the most essential aspect of ensuring you will have an adequate milk supply. According to studies, 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. You do not need to drink gallons a day, but you do need to be adequately hydrated. 8 glasses (64 ounces) of fluid a day is an absolute must. In the early stages of your breastfeeding journey its a necessity to have a bottle of water next to where you are going to nurse. You might not be thirsty when you sit down, but it is not uncommon to be overwhelmed by thirst after a few minutes.

2) Oatmeal

Oatmeal is fantastic for building and maintaining your milk supply. Whether you enjoy a hearty bowl of hot oats in the morning or you sprinkle granola on your yogurt, make sure you are eating some oats. You already know that oatmeal helps to lower cholesterol and can aid blood pressure regulation, but increasing your supply is another awesome benefit of chowing down on oats.

3) Cookies

Not just any cookie, but special lactation cookies. This recipe has been making the rounds for decades, and we are sharing it with you. Here is the recipe, enjoy!

4) Garlic

You don’t need to go overboard, but adding garlic to your foods not only adds another layer of deliciousness, it also boosts your milk supply. Garlic has been used by nursing mothers for centuries to help boost their milk. A modern bonus for moms who don’t like garlic: garlic pills are commercially available and are said to have no aftertaste.

5) Carrots

Get your Bugs Bunny on, mama! Carrots are full of beta-carotene, which just happens to be in extra demand when you’re lactating. Carrots are a healthy source of carbohydrates and will boost your potassium, too. Snacking on carrots is also a great way to help you lose some of that stubborn baby weight. Peel and slice a bag of carrots at a time and store them in your fridge for easy snacking.

6) Fennel

Whether you sauté it, stew it, or toss it raw into a salad, fennel is an herb that is widely believed to be an excellent galactagogue. If you particularly dislike anise or black licorice, this herb is not for you. For those with an adventurous palate, fennel is full of healthy phytoestrogens. Bonus for those with queasy stomachs—fennel is also known to be fantastic for aiding digestion and settling an upset belly.

7) Nuts

Sometimes being a new mom can make you feel a little nuts. Take a breather, grab a handful of nuts, and enjoy a snack that will help your supply. Cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts are the most popular choices for giving your milk a boost—they’re also high in good fats and antioxidants. Read labels and go for raw nuts when possible. Many commercially available nuts are heavily oiled and salted—opt for low sodium, or salt-free versions when possible.

8) Green Papaya

a green papaya sliced in half

Yes, we’re talking about eating unripe papaya… In Asia, green papaya is a traditional galactagogue. If you have a favorite Thai restaurant, order Som Tam, which is a green papaya salad. If you’re not a fan of Thai food, try steaming or stir frying on high heat until tender. Green papaya is also available in tablet form.

9) Sesame Seeds

Sesame grains in large wooden spoon on white background

Sesame seed bagels are delicious, and we’ve all had a burger on a sesame seed bun, but you need to get more than just a dash of seeds to help boost your milk. Tahini is a delicious buttery paste made of sesame seeds that you can add into recipes and sauces for a Middle Eastern flair. For those with a sweet tooth, halvah is a delicious sesame seed snack—just don’t eat too much of it because it’s also loaded with sugar. Sesame seeds are not only tasty, but high in calcium to boot.

10) Ginger

ginger clove with some chopped ginger slices

Do you still have ginger ale, candied ginger, and ginger pops left over from your days of morning sickness? They won’t be going to waste after all--ginger is another widely used milk-boosting food.Many Asian and Indian recipes call for ginger, so expand your menu and try cooking some international cuisine. If you’re tired and have no time, enjoy a few ginger snaps instead.


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