Our Favorite Breast Milk-Boosting Foods
Hi! I’m Kristy, co-author of Eat to Feed: 80 Nourishing Recipes for Breastfeeding Moms and co-founder of Oat Mama. I’ve teamed up with Jess from Amara to talk to you about lactation foods.
Let me start by saying that if you are experiencing worries and anxieties about your breast milk supply, nothing can or should replace the sound advice and professional counsel of a lactation expert.
If you’d like to ensure you’re eating a diet rich in foods which are traditionally known to help support a healthy milk supply, we’ve got you covered mama. All of these foods are ideal for a postpartum breastfeeding diet and can be easily and seamlessly incorporated into your everyday meals and snacks.
If you are like me, you obsessed over every calorie and food choice during pregnancy. And of course, if you’re like me, you’re excited for baby’s first meals, and will settle for nothing short of the best in baby food (Amara please!). But while we’re breastfeeding, self-care continues to be so important. We require extra calories and nutrients to make sure we’re staying healthy, hydrated, and at our physical best to meet the demands of breastfeeding. If you’ve just had a baby or are gearing up for birth, here are a few ingredients to be sure to have on the ready.
- Barley - Barley is an excellent choice for your whole grains. It is simple to prepare. I like to use pearl barley instead of quick barley. Although it requires a longer cooking time, I think the flavor, texture, and additional nutrients are worth the wait. Simply add 1 cup of barley with 21/2 cups of water or broth, bring to a boil, cover and simmer 40-50 minutes until tender, but still chewy.
Once you have your cooked barley, you can use it any way that you’d use rice. For savory preparations, mix barley with pesto and roasted vegetables, or use as the base of a cold salad. For something sweet, warm barley with some almond milk, a splash of maple syrup and cinnamon and top with fresh berries.
- Brewer’s Yeast - Brewer’s yeast is rich in iron and trace minerals like chromium and selenium and is the active ingredient in most lactation cookies and bars on the market.
While brewer’s yeast is bitter-tasting, if you know how to use it, you can minimize this quality and enjoy the slightly nutty and umami flavor it can bring to foods. Not all brewer’s yeasts are created equal. Find the mildest-tasting, debittered brand of brewer’s yeast you can find. We highly recommend Oat Mama Brewer’s Yeast. You can add about a quarter cup to your favorite cookie recipe with good results. Have fun experimenting with it in your favorite baked recipes, like granola. For a quick fix, simply sprinkle a tablespoon on top of your morning oatmeal or smoothie.
- Oats - I can’t help but acknowledge the mighty oat, the mother of all galactagogues, in our favorites list. It is not only a powerhouse food, it has been shown to support let-down with its soothing properties. If you are sick and tired of warm bowls of oatmeal, don’t despair! There are many more ways to enjoy oats in your breastfeeding meals.
I recommend sourcing organic, non-gmo, gluten-free whole oats whenever possible. Have you tried oat flour? Oat flour is simply when you grind up your oats in a blender or food processor until they become a powder. Now you have a handy and lactation-friendly gluten-free flour in your life. Simply check the internet for recipes using oat flour, and you’ll see a plethora of recipes from quick breads to pancakes and beyond. To switch it up, don’t relegate oats to just breakfast, they can be used in savory dishes as well.
- Black Sesame Seeds - Don’t judge a seed by its size. Small but packing a heavyweight punch, black sesame seeds are one of my go-to breastfeeding foods. Full of protein, healthy fats and calcium, black sesame seeds are a staple in my lactation pantry. Since they can be eaten raw, toasted, blended into tahini, and can be enjoyed in sweets and savories alike, they are a delicious addition to most meals and snacks.
I’ll never forget my first experience with soft-serve black sesame ice cream in Tokyo. Creamy and nutty with an exotic slate color, I was hooked at first taste. If you can’t fly to Japan, we have the next best thing: Toasted Black Sesame Smoothies. You can find the recipe for this addictive lactation smoothie in Eat to Feed. And… because why stop there? Check out our Salted Tahini milkshake in Eat to Feed for some serious indulgence (it’s for the baby!) Don’t be shy. Sprinkle sesame seeds on your bagel; slather tahini on your toast. You can’t go wrong with these superseeds.
- Almonds - Let’s face it. Sometimes, you just need a quick, on-the-go snack option. Personally, I kept a bowl of almonds at my bedside during those first few weeks after baby was born. When I was up at all hours of the day and that crazy breastfeeding hunger would strike, I was ready. And you should be too.
It’s easy to dress up plain almonds simply by roasting them with some of your favorite spices. If you want to double-down on lactation goodness, toss almonds with a little extra- virgin olive oil, salt, and curry powder, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, stirring once during baking. Remove from oven when almonds are toasty and fragrant, and let cool. Experiment with different lactation blends: garlic powder and cumin, onion powder and dill, cinnamon and ginger; the possibilities are endless.