While new mothers are breastfeeding, it is important that they maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and keep their calorie intake high. There are also foods that should be incorporated into a mother's diet if she wants to increase breast milk production. These foods, also known as lactogenic foods, can boost lactation and provide mothers with essential vitamins and nutrients.
Several vegetables can increase milk in breastfeeding mothers. Carrots and beets each offer high levels of beta-carotene, which helps increase lactation. Beets are also high in minerals and iron. Eating raw beets can help alleviate iron deficiencies and can boost milk production in mothers. In addition to these vegetables, dark leafy greens also support milk production in breastfeeding mothers. Leafy greens are high in minerals, vitamins, enzymes and phytoestrogens, which support lactation. Dark leafy green vegetables such as arugula, spinach, collard greens and kale can be eaten whole, chopped and put into a salad, or made into tea.
Oatmeal is popular among nursing mothers for increasing lactation. Oatmeal is high in iron and can prevent mothers from becoming anemic, as anemia can often lead to lower milk supplies in women. The oats in oatmeal are considered galactagogues, or substances that promote lactation in mammals. Oatmeal is also a grain and can add essential calories to a mother's diet that she needs during breastfeeding.
A variety of common condiments also may be beneficial in increasing breast milk. Garlic has a longstanding history as a galactagogue, and can also be taken in capsule form. Garlic is an easy substance to incorporate into foods and has health benefits, however it should never be given to babies or small children as it can irritate their delicate body tissues. Ginger is also thought to be helpful in increasing milk flow, and can be incorporated into diets in natural form or by drinking ginger ale. Common spices such as marjoram, basil, anise, dill and caraway also may help support milk production in nursing women.
Fennel is an herb that is commonly associated with breast milk production. Fennel seeds are also regarded as promoting breast milk production. Fennel can be eaten raw or cooked, is easily added with other foods and can also be made into a tea. Fennel tea is the most common way to consume the herb, and many women take it two to three times a day while breastfeeding.