05/08/2015 by Aruna Kamath
No matter how much you are prepared for motherhood and childbirth, there are many things that you are still clueless about, especially if it’s your first pregnancy experience. Breast feeding for instance leaves many new moms in a dilemma. What with advices flooding in from all directions, you’re never too sure which one to take seriously and which to ignore.
My first breastfeeding experience was a harrowing one – with my baby demanding to be fed ever so often. In fact, there were even days when she wanted to be nursed all the time! As a new mother, this got me worried and quite naturally, I attributed it to low milk supply. It was only after consulting my other mom buddies, I learnt that it was absolutely normal for babies to feed often. I also realized that babies have a strong urge to suck and to be cuddled tightly.
Contrary to misconception, it is extremely rare for mothers to not be able to produce any breast milk at all. However, a small percentage of mothers are unable to produce enough breast milk, in which case they have to resort to formula feeding. But, my sincere advice to all new moms is to not to get misled by insufficient breast milk. It is easy to get frustrated and give up breastfeeding. But do remember, all mothers can produce breast milk and with some earnest effort, it’s possible to increase milk supply.
Some foods that can boost breast milk production
Fenugreek seeds: This is an ancient remedy to increase breast milk supply. Fenugreek can be used as seasoning or added to many veg and non-veg preparations. Herbal, fenugreek-based tea, is known to be a great stimulant for nursing mothers. Fenugreek also provides new mothers with much-needed nutrients like iron and calcium.
Garlic is one of the best known foods to enhance breast milk supply. It has chemical compounds that boost lactation. Stir fried garlic can be eater on its own. For those who don’t relish plain garlic, you can eat dishes to which garlic has been added as a flavoring agent.
Cumin Seeds: This is a very common ingredient in Indian kitchens, often used as a flavouring agent. Cumin helps boost milk supply as well as aids in quelling digestive problems like acidity and bloating. It is also a good source of iron and helps the mother regain strength. Cumin water is a popular drink given to new mothers.
Fennel seeds: Fennel is known for its digestive properties and is known to prevent colic problems in babies. In addition, it can also improve milk supply. Fennel seeds are often used to enhance flavor. Fennel kashayam is a traditional preparation given to new mothers.
Bottle gourd: This vegetable has high water content and can keep lactating mothers hydrated. Besides, helping to boost milk quantity, it can help to keep blood sugar levels in control post-delivery. This veggie is easy to digest too.
Spinach is an excellent source of iron, calcium and folic acid. The phytoestrogen in spinach is known to boost lactation. Besides having many other nutritional benefits, spinach protects recouping moms from anemia and breast cancer. A variety of dishes can be made with spinach, including soups and salads.
Carrot: Similar to spinach, carrots have milk increasing stimulants. They are also a rich source of vitamin A which improves the quality of milk. Carrot juice provides a great source of energy for lactating moms
Black sesame are a rich source of calcium and at the same time known to boost milk production. These seeds are often used in the preparation of flavoured rice and dal. Sweet balls made out of black sesame seeds are often given to new moms.
Brown Rice: Brown rice is the unprocessed rice which with only the outermost layer removed. It is known to have hormone stimulants that increase lactation. Brown rice is also nourishing and can provide nursing moms with extra energy as also help maintain optimum blood sugar levels.
Holy Basil: This is a wonder herb which is often used as a natural remedy for colds and coughs and many other ailments. It is a great source of vitamin K. Besides helping to increase milk production, it also helps increase baby’s immunity levels. You can a add few sprigs of the leaves to your tea or drink a hot beverage made by boiling tea leaves in water.
Dill leaves are known to improve milk supply. Dill leaves are high on fibre and rich in vitamin K. They also help to replenish blood loss that happens during delivery.
Drumstick: This is a great source of calcium and iron and aids lactating mother to enhance milk supply. It is also known to boost immunity and strengthen the nervous system.
Pulses: The red varieties of pulses are well known lactogenic foods, commonly used to boost milk production. In addition, they are rich in fibre and iron, both of which are highly beneficial to the baby and mother.
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Though technically it’s not a galactagogue, it is believed to enhance milk supply and produce more nutritious breast milk.
Nuts and dried fruits are great energy boosters and at the same time can help new moms in milk production. Dried apricots contain phytoestrogens that help to balance the hormones during lactation. They also contain high fibre and are rich in calcium, potassium and vitamins A and C.