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Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

10 lactogenic foods to step up your milk production

Things that are good for mom are good for baby, right? Eat healthy, avoid coffee, alcohol, stress, and let your baby guide your breast feeding schedule, and everything should be all good. But this may not always be the case, which I experienced at the 4-month mark with Baby Elvis. While some new moms don’t need extra help, I can attest that not all breastfeeding experiences are created equal.

For instance, being back at work can create challenges. If you don’t pump every two or three hours, your production will drop. I remember once, after I gave birth, I didn’t get a chance to pump for eight hours. For the next four days, I could barely produce anything. It was a big wake up call for me in terms of priorities. Making food for my baby had to be at the top of my list, even when I had patients to see and places to be. But whatever the reason, not being able to deliver the goods for your babe brings on feelings of guilt and shame. For the rest of that week I had an Uber driver pick up freshly pumped milk from my office and bring it to my home in Brooklyn so my mom had enough to feed my baby boy.

This feeling of inadequacy and self-blame among new mothers who are juggling and struggling is not new. In a perfect world, we’d all breast feed for however long both mom and baby decide. But in the world as we know it, help can be invaluable.

Here are my tips on foods you can eat to boost your milk supply:

Oats have made a huge difference for me. I use steel cut. Known for their lactogenic properties, and easily one of the most nutritious foods out there, oats have proteins, vitamins, minerals and trace elements that nourish the nerves, support metabolism, and generally make you feel good. Like other foods that promote breast milk production, it’s also an antidepressant.

Fennel in its various forms helps with milk production. Steep fennel seed in boiling water and drink it as a tea, or use it as a spice in salads and sauces.

Garlic can make your breath wicked strong and some stomachs don’t tolerate it well, but if you can handle it there’s no reason you shouldn’t take it in moderation, as many mothers do worldwide. Its lactogenic properties are one of its many benefits. In one Lactogenic Study, babies had a better hold, a stronger suckle, and drank more when mom had garlic beforehand. If you’re worried about social ostracization but still want the prize, try garlic capsules.

Ginger helps with milk supply and is good for your letdown reflex. Ginger ale, ginger tea, or ginger in your stir-fry are excellent ways to get some potent milk flow. If you lost a lot of blood during birth, refrain from this powerful root in the early postpartum, until your body’s tide has settled a little.

Carrot, Beet, and Yam are full of beta-carotene, which you need when breastfeeding. Carrots (especially the seeds) have volatile oils and phytoestrogen, which supports lactation. Beets are a great source of iron and minerals. These sweet, supportive foods also make a healthy liver.

Leafy Greens are a powerful source of minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and phytoestrogen. My favorites: arugula, kale, and Swiss chard. Try spinach and collard greens too. Dandelion and stinging nettle leaves are diuretic, and can reduce edema after pregnancy.

Grains and Legumes have a long, lactogenic history. Aside from my best friend oats, millet, barley and rice are also commonly used grains to boost milk production. Some legumes to introduce to your breast-feeding friendly palate: chickpea, mung beans and lentils.

Nuts which support milk production include almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts. Stick with raw and unsalted.

Oils and fats play an integral role in your baby’s growth and brain health. Get substantial doses of butter and coconut oil on the regular. Cold-pressed virgin olive, sesame, and flaxseed oils are a great toss-in for salads.

Drink! It’s simple: hydrating with lots of water means more milk. Teas like Mother’s Milk, twice a day, or Milk Thistle tea are great too. Go for coffee stand-ins that contain chicory or malt—both stimulate lactation.

Need an extra boost?

Try herbal blends like Gaia Lactation Support or Vitanicas Lactation Blend.

For more great new mom information, sit down with new mama Dr Emily Kiberd. To set up an appointment, call 212-355-0445, or contact us at