How has your breastfeeding journey been going? If you are currently dealing with the issue of having a low milk supply, fret not, here are some lactogenic foods to your rescue.
Before I get things started, I would first like to congratulate you on making up your mind to breastfeed your baby as you have made a great choice!
There are in fact many herbal/food galactagogues that have been used traditionally, which vary in different cultures and geographical areas, even though there is very little research in this area. These special foods may contain active ingredients that allow an increase in breast milk supply, especially by raising prolactin levels. Now allow me to introduce the 5 best herbal/food galactagogues that you can try out to boost your breast milk production!
A clover-like herb with its seeds has a long history of use as a herbal galactagogue. Fenugreek has a faint odor similar to that of maple syrup and it is available as a flavoring, spice, and tea. Other than the potential of increasing milk supply, it also has other nutraceutical properties and is generally regarded as safe by the FDA. Just take note that you should avoid Fenugreek during pregnancy as it causes uterine stimulation and it may also trigger a reaction if you have a history of chickpea or peanut allergy.
Another popular galactagogue is commercially available as silymarin. It is a flowering herb native to the Mediterranean countries and it has been used to boost milk supply since ancient times. However, its lactogenic mechanism of action is not well understood and more research would be required.
The Moringa plant is also called drumsticks, it is native to India and is widely consumed in parts of Asia and Africa. The leaves are highly nutritious - contain various micronutrients and essential amino acids. It is known that Moringa can increase breast milk volume by providing essential nutrients and increasing prolactin. Try including its pod or leaves to soups, gravies, or curries in your lactation diet!
Ginger may not appear as popular as other galactagogues, but a study published in 2016 has concluded that the use of ginger to boost breast milk supply in the early postpartum period seems promising and there's no side effect! It is reportedly used in areas like Asia and is generally recognized as safe by the FDA, inclusive of the lactation period.
According to the University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, oatmeal serves as a good source of iron and it increases milk supply as low iron is one of the major reasons for poor milk secretion. Oatmeal is nutritious and it provides various health benefits - making it a healthier choice than many other breakfast options!
After all, always bear in mind that one of the solutions to low milk supply is to breastfeed more often! Remove your breast milk frequently - this is because the more is removed from your breasts, the more of them will be made. Make sure your baby is latching on properly and keep your baby to your skin to skin. Once these are done effectively and you have identified the factors leading you to have a low milk production, the galactagogues may work to speed up the process. Happy Breastfeeding!
Written By: Yong Ke Tian
BSc Hons Nutrition
University of Nottingham Malaysia
Reviewed by: Jasmine Lim
Love Earth Organic Nutritionist
Bachelor of Science Degree in
Dietetics (major) & Food Science (minor)
Iowa State University, USA