More and more new mothers are heeding the advice that the “breast is best,” as national breast-feeding rates continue to rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, a mother with a low supply might get upset or anxious that she’s not providing her baby with enough milk. If your child isn’t wetting five disposable diapers -- or 6 to 8 cloth diapers -- with pale, odorless urine every 24 hours, talk with a lactation consultant or your pediatrician about boosting your milk supply.
Determining the Problem
Despite the benefits of breastfeeding your baby, it can be difficult to establish a routine that works for mother and child. A low supply isn't necessarily related to your diet, so you should talk to a medical professional before making any radical changes. According to Medline Plus, the number of feedings, proper rest and taking in enough fluid can affect breast milk supply, along with good nutrition. You also need to take in enough calories -- around 500 extra a day, though it varies from person to person. If everything else seems to be in order, adding lactogenic foods -- those that boost milk supply -- might help.
Fruits and Vegetables
A breastfeeding mother should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, says the California Department of Public Health, including one serving each of vitamin A- and C-rich options. Dark leafy greens supply the vitamin A, but they're also high in phytoestrogen, which supports lactation, according to Hilary Jacobson, author of "Mother Food for Breastfeeding Mothers." Both carrots and beets contain vitamin C, as well as beta-carotene, which you need more of while nursing, says Jacobson.
Healthy fats are essential for the production of hormones that help regulate milk production, as well as a key component of the milk itself, according to an article from FoxNews.com. Jacobson on MOBI Motherhood International recommends adding coconut oil, cold-pressed virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil to your diet. However, avoid partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fats as much as possible.
For a variety of reasons, oatmeal could help with your milk supply, says Kelly Bonyata, international board-certified lactation consultant. It contains iron, low levels of which can decrease milk production. It's also a comfort food, which helps with your let down. It's healthiest to eat a bowl of steel-cut oats, but instant varieties and baked goods made with oatmeal might help, too. Brown rice can also stimulate milk production, as it increases serotonin in the brain, which, in turn, stimulates the hormone prolactin.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Breastfeeding Report Card—United States, 2012
- FoxNews.com: Tips to Help Increase Breast-Milk Production
- MOBI Motherhood International: Lactogenic Foods and Herbs
- Australian Breastfeeding Association: Low Supply
- Medline Plus: Overcoming Breastfeeding Problems
- BabyCenter: Diet for a Healthy Breastfeeding Mom
- Kellymom: Oatmeal for Increasing Milk Supply