Breastfeeding is hard work no matter what – between pumping and feeding it can feel like a full-time job in those first few weeks and month postpartum. And everyone and every body is different. Some women struggle with milk production while others have oversupply (both of which have their own potential downsides from clogged milk ducts to mastitis).
We’ve all heard of lactation cookies – you probably have a half-eaten tin scattered across your counter right now – but boosting your breast milk production is about a lot more than just cookies. While there’s no such thing as a “perfect diet” for breastfeeding, what you’re eating is ultimately what your baby is eating too. We’ve partnered with our friends at Ritual Meals, a postpartum meal delivery service, to share some their top five tips for how you can focus on eating holistically to help boost your lactation:
Five Tips for a Transformational Lactation Journey:
1. Know your galactagogues.
Say it with us “gah-lact-ta-gogs”. Even if you can’t pronounce it, you likely have some of them in your pantry. Think oats, flax, sesame seeds, ginger, chickpeas, dark leafy greens, and many more as the secret sauce to helping to increase your milk production as well as the nutritional quality of your supply.
2. Chow down on nutrient-rich, whole foods to pass essential vitamins and minerals through your breastmilk.
Your breastmilk is your baby's multivitamin. Did you know that your breast milk changes as you’re feeding to meet your baby’s needs? The best way to get it is to absorb it through nutrient-rich whole foods, the way nature intended. Easy to digest, plant-rich soups and stews made with nutrient-rich bone broth, grass-fed, pasture raised animals (or if you are vegetarian, iodine-rich sea vegetable broths). Most pill-based supplements pass through your body, so you need to prioritize getting your nutrition from whole foods whenever possible.
3. Stay hydrated.
Your water bottle may feel like a third limb in the first few months postpartum and there’s a good reason for that. The daily water requirements for lactating women are higher than the usual daily requirements. But in addition to water, you can stay hydrated with other liquids, everything from soups and stews, to teas to hydrating fruits and veggies like watermelons, strawberries, and cucumbers (but bring them up to room temperature first!). Pro tip: Try drinking from a reusable straw (e.g. stainless steel or bamboo), you’re more likely to drink more water that way than if you were just sipping straight from the cup.
4. Support hormonal balance and health.
What you eat impacts your hormones which are already going through a lot of changes postpartum and the foundational diet you build now will support your body's transition off of breastfeeding (whenever you decide to make that choice) where you'll experience another set of hormonal transitions.
Certain seeds such as flaxseed and pumpkin seeds are great hormonal regulators. If it’s not already obvious we’re big fans of tea as well – tulsi tea or try adding in adaptogenic mushrooms to your beverages as well.
5. Prioritize rest and self care rituals.
We know that for most news moms the last thing that they’re thinking about is themselves, but do yourself a favor and carve out a little time to be gentle with yourself. Stress is the number one reason for reduced lactation, so prioritize rest where you can and any self care rituals that help you destress and relax. Even taking a few deep breaths in and out will signal to your body that it’s safe and can relax.
The pay off goes beyond breast milk production as well – it also supports hormonal balance by managing your cortisol levels. Some of our favorite suggestions are to enjoy a postpartum herbal tea, an organic candle, sitz bath, foot soak, or massage with nourishing body oil. Ritual Meals new mama gift box is the perfect self care ritual for new mothers.
Looking for a simple way to nourish your body postpartum? Ritual Meals is offering 10% off plus free delivery on a weekly subscription of their Postpartum Program. Use the code ORIGINSF at checkout.