What are “galactagogues” and do I need them if I’m nursing my baby?
Let’s face it; being a new mom is exhausting. Especially if you’re dealing with stress or challenges related to breastfeeding. So today we’re going to offer a few simple dietary tips that can help you in the lactation department and increase milk supply.
If you’re like most moms who choose to nurse, you’re doing it because you believe your milk is best for baby. And while that may be true, it’s important to remember that the quality (and quantity) of your milk is dependent upon your own good nutrition.
So what’s the deal with “galactagogues”?
This is simply a fancy term for substances or foods that increase milk supply. Throughout the history of motherhood, various cultures have used an array of galactagogues—in the form of foods, herbs, and medications—to stimulate milk production. Most have not been formally studied, so there is no scientific evidence that galactagogues actually work. Evidence is anecdotal, at best, and their effect can vary from person to person.
In fact, the best thing you can do is simply focus on eating a healthy—and varied—diet, which will make your milk as nourishing as possible to your little one. Also focus on staying hydrated—mostly with water, not sugary drinks, and limit your intake of caffeinated beverages. It’s also important to remember that you need to continue consuming extra calories: around 500 per day more than you consumed on your pre-pregnancy diet.
To produce better and more milk, try to include the following types of foods in your diet:
Whole grains—like oatmeal and brown rice; these are high in fiber and help your digestive system function well
Fresh fruits and vegetables—“eat the rainbow,” and focus especially on dark, leafy greens, which are full of nutrients
Nuts and seeds—nutritional powerhouses, nuts and seeds are packed with healthy fats, fiber, and protein
Beans and legumes—whatever types you like best; they are great sources of minerals, vitamins, and protein (Fun fact: garbanzo beans have been used since ancient times as a galactagogue!)
High-quality animal protein—if you are a meat-and-fish eater, include things like salmon and grass-fed beef in your diet; in addition to providing protein, these offer important vitamins and omega-3s, which can help you decrease inflammation in your body
Eggs—another wonderful thing to include in your diet, eggs contain choline, necessary for nervous system development in your little one
Use these suggestions as a general guide, and don’t get too hung up on eating the “perfect” combination of things every day. As The Mayo Clinic reminds us, “Eating a variety of foods while breast-feeding will change the flavor of your breast milk. This will expose your baby to different tastes, which might help him or her more easily accept solid foods down the road.”
If you are interested in pursuing herbal galactagogues, or think you may need medical intervention to help you produce more milk, please talk to your health professional. The only scientifically proven method to increase milk output, and therefore milk supply, is draining the breast fully and often, either by nursing and hand expressing or massaging your breasts.
This is exactly what our award winning Lilu Massager + Bra does. It mimics the motions recommended by lactation consultants that increase milk supply, without having to use your hands, while pumping so that you can effectively establish, maintain and increase your milk supply.
For Mother's Day we've also partnered with Majka - they make yummy lactation supplements & snacks filled with organic ingredients that support milk supply and give your body the fuel it needs during pregnancy, breastfeeding and motherhood. So you can say good bye to fatigue and brain fog and hello to a happier energized you!
Lilu is a Women’s Health company building tech-enabled devices to empower new moms. Our first product, the Lilu Massage Bra, mimics compression massage, so you can empty your breasts fully to establish, increase and maintain your milk supply. Pump up to 50% more milk each session, all while going hands-free.
The Lilu Massager + Bra is designed to make pumping moms’ lives easier. It works with your pump so that you can produce up to 50% more milk per pumping session completely hands-free. It enables you to actually get stuff done or simply relax while pumping. Reach your pumping goals, with Lilu.