If you’re choosing to breastfeed, you want to offer your baby the most nutritious milk possible. But how do you do that? Chances are you’ve heard that eating foods like garlic and oat milk help. However, there is no scientific evidence that one particular food stimulates milk production. 

The best way to ensure healthy breastfeeding is through a balanced diet. Meals, whether during pregnancy or postpartum, need to contain certain essential nutrients that nourish both mother and child. There isn’t a “miracle” nutrient that increases supply, but there are certain food groups that can boost your overall diet and maternal health.

Calcium

The daily calcium intake indicated for mothers is around 1,300 milligrams. If you’re already consuming milk or yogurt, check the nutrition facts label — for example, a glass of milk contains about 300 milligrams of calcium.

Calcium can help strengthen you and your baby’s bones and teeth–even in vitro! Here is a list of calcium-rich foods:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Hard cheeses
  • Sardines
  • Broccoli
  • Sesame
  • Oats

Protein

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should get an average of approximately 65 grams of protein every day, but the amount varies based on a mother’s weight. Pregnant and breastfeeding moms often wonder whether or not fish is okay: the answer is yes, but with a few caveats. Avoid eating seafood that contains high levels of mercury, such as sharks, swordfish, king mackerel, and white hake.

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Protein helps develop healthy muscles, cells, and tissue. Here are a few protein-rich foods to incorporate into your diet (including non-meat options!):

  • Beef, poultry, and seafood (with the exception of those mentioned above)
  • Eggs
  • Cheeses
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Legumes (such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, or peas) accompanied by grains (such as rice, oats, barley, or corn)
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu

Iron

Iron supports a growing fetus by increasing the red cell mass in your bloodstream. Iron deficiency is a common problem for women and children around the world and can lead to adverse health consequences. For most pregnant women, the recommended daily amount is 9 milligrams. Some foods that are great sources of iron:

  • Beef, poultry, and marine meats
  • Egg yolks
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Dried fruits

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. Vitamin C is best consumed with iron-heavy foods, as it helps with the absorption of iron. The ideal amount for children under 18 is about 115 milligrams, while for those over 19 it is 120 milligrams.

Here is a list of foods rich in Vitamin C:

  • Citrus
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Bell Pepper
  • Kiwi
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage

Many mothers find that altering their diet can increase their breast milk supply. For additional recommendations on how to boost milk production, like altering your feeding schedule or making lifestyle changes, click here.