Maternal milk is the best known optimal and complete food for all babies. Breast-feeding is associated with better nutritional and non-nutritional outcomes compared with formula feeding even in case of preterm birth. Galactogogues are the substances that are known to promote lactation. Here are some foods that can help nursing mothers and in turn, baby’s health.
Foods known to help increase breastmilk
Fenugreek Seeds (Methi): Methi seeds have been used for ages to increase breastmilk supply and now there is research to back this ancient belief. Research has shown that fenugreek or methi increases milk supply within a week. Besides, fenugreek seeds are a great source of iron, calcium, vitamins and minerals.
Methi can added to many dishes, especially vegetables and can also be used while making parathas and pooris.
Fennel Seeds (Saunf): Studies have found that fennel seeds increase milk supply and help prevent colic in your baby. They are rich in vitamin C. Besides, they are a good mouth freshener and aid digestion. Fennel seeds can be added to vegetables, dals and desserts.
Foods traditionally believed to increase milk supply
Though there isn’t any scientific research to back the following foods, many mothers swear by them and say they were helpful in increasing breastmilk supply:
Cumin seeds (Jeera): As well as stimulating milk supply, cumin seeds are said to improve digestion and provide relief from constipation, acidity and bloating. They are also a source of iron to help you gain strength after birth. Cumin seeds are an integral part of many Indian dishes. You can roast them and add them even to snacks, raitas and chutneys.
Black sesame seeds (Til): Black sesame seeds are an excellent source of calcium and are believed to help increase milk supply. These seeds contain many other beneficial nutrients like copper. You can try til ke ladoos and use black sesame seeds in foods like khichri, biryani and lentil dishes.
Holy basil (Tulsi): Tulsi has been traditionally used to help cure a number of ailments. It’s a great source of vitamin K. In addition to improving your milk supply, it is believed to have a calming effect, improve bowel movements and promote a healthy appetite. Add the leaves to cooked vegetables and soups. Or you can make a hot drink out of them by boiling them in water and drinking the tulsi tea with honey.
Dill seeds (Suwa): Dill is a good source of iron, manganese and calcium. It is believed to improve milk supply, digestion and sleep. Dill is a mild diuretic and should be consumed in moderation. You can use dill seeds whole or ground in many foods such as pickles, salads, and curries.
Green and Gourd Vegetables: Vegetables from the gourd family like lauki and tori are a traditional way to improve milk supply. Not only are these vegetables nutritious, they are also easy to digest. Green vegetables like beans, spinach, beet leaves and asparagus are an excellent source of minerals and vitamins as well as phytoestrogen which is believed to enhance lactation. Cook these vegetables with spices or make sweet snacks like halwa out of them.
Pulses or lentils (Dals) : Pulses, especially red lentils or masoor dal are not only believed to improve milk supply but are also high in iron and fibre. Use a pressure cooker to prepare them to save time and add spices and condiments of your choice.
Red/orange vegetables: Carrots, sweet potatoes and beets for example are high in beta-carotene, which is beneficial for your baby if you are breastfeeding. Beets and sweet potatoes are high in iron and help to maintain the liver. Carrot seeds have been known to improve milk supply. You can include them in salads, soups, porridges, meat dishes or desserts like gajjar ka halwa.
Nuts: Almonds and cashews are said to be the nuts that aid breastfeeding. They make an excellent snack and are best consumed raw. You can also add them to sweet and savoury dishes to boost their flavour.
Garlic: Among its many curative properties, garlic is said to help in increasing breastmilk supply. Though garlic can be eaten on its own, you may find it more appetising when used as a condiment in dals, meats, vegetables, pastas and pickles.
Oats : Oats are a great source of iron, calcium and fibre and are popular with nursing mums. They are commonly eaten as porridge and you may choose to add nuts, milk, spices or fruits to improve its nutritional value.
Oils and butter Certain fats from oils and butter are healthy. Oils like olive oil, flaxseed oil and sesame oil are healthier oils believed to aid breastfeeding. Butter, coconut oil and ghee, when consumed in moderation, can boost energy. Use them to cook or just drizzle some over your salads.
It’s important to ensure healthy diet which can positively affect a baby’s health. In addition to diet, it is important to monitor the health indicators of both mother & the baby on a continuous basis. eKincare – your personal health manager helps you upload your medical reports, health indicators & consolidate medical history on a secure, cloud based platform, thus helping you manage your health in a better way.