“I advise all the new mamas not to let losing their baby weight prioritise their body’s nutritional needs after birth” opines Dr Shweta. Drastically reducing the intake of calories has become the go-to move for weight loss after birth. The primary focus for a breastfeeding diet is getting an ample amount of calories. The baby will take what she needs from you, they’ll require your nutrients before you will, so consuming the right amount that sufficiently supports the mother’s recovery as well as aid milk production becomes important. After spending 9 months growing a little human inside, lactation places high demands on the body. There’s a direct link between nutrition depletion and the risk of postpartum depression (1).
Eating foods that adequately compensate for your body’s needs has never been more important. This sacred bonding time with your baby can be made more fun with delicious snacks to binge on. These superfoods not only provide you with deep care and nourishment but the foods you eat also affect the taste of the breast milk you are feeding your baby.
Milk production can decrease due to a lot of factors like stress, fatigue, hormonal activity and other variety of reasons. Our lead nutritionist, Dr Shweta Priyadashini has given a list of postpartum pillars for all you nursing hungry goddesses.
These herbs found in your spice dabba have shown some promise in increasing milk production in some women (2). India is the largest producer of fenugreek in the world, this herb is native to Asia and the middle east. Many experts generally recommend it as a galactagogue and it has been deemed to be safe by FASSAI hence it is completely harmless for the mother and the baby. Fenugreek holds abundant flavonoids beta-carotene, Vitamin B, calcium, and iron that are beneficial for lactating mothers. “They contain an estrogen-like compound called phytoestrogen that helps the milk ducts grow and being rich in omega-3 it is very helpful for the baby’s brain development,” says Dr Shweta. You can add fenugreek seeds and powder to soups, dosas, sprouts and tea.
Oats is one of the most popular recommendations by our lactation consultant Dr Shweta. Oats and oat products are a healthy addition due to their beta-gluten content, which helps to increase the breastfeeding hormone - prolactin in the body. They are rich in nutrients such as iron, calcium, manganese, vitamin B and soluble fibre (3). Since most new mothers usually face issues with digestion, oats are excellent to relieve constipation. Oatmeals also help to elevate mood, fight off stress, anxiety and exhaustion.
Another simple but effective lactogenic food is Barley. It has been recorded in Greek medicine as a galactagogue. Taking for a week or two keeps you hydrated and has helped many mothers in boosting their milk supply. It makes an excellent addition to your breastfeeding meal plan as it has good amounts of copper, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, chromium and vitamin B. The beta gluten in oats helps with digestion issues as well as the production of breastfeeding hormones. Dr Shweta advises incorporating barley grains into salads or soaking them in hot water overnight and then consuming the water the next day. You can also make chapatis with barley flour says, Dr Shweta.
Well known for its healing properties, it is usually used in Indian cooking. The wonders of this spice date back to the time of the Egyptians. Women have been using this herbal ingredient for centuries as it contains a compound called phytoestrogen and is a neutral galactagogue. They not only boost milk production but also help with gas and colic (4). It is generally considered that the benefits of fennel seeds directly pass on to the baby through breast milk. You can soak a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a glass of water overnight and drink it in the morning or brew it in your tea.
High in estrogen sesame seeds are a great choice for increasing your breast milk production. It is also a good non - dairy source of calcium. Calcium is a vital component for your baby growth and to enrich your milk production. It is also encouraged to add this soon after delivery for an effective and full recovery. Dr Shweta recommends using sesame seeds in your daily cooking or make sweet dishes like ladoos and have one a day.
Fresh moringa leaves are known to be rich in protein, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and vitamins. Ayurveda swears by its benefits and is widely recommended for new mothers to increase their breastmilk production. Moringa is a nutrient-dense plant that is found to have positive effects in doubling milk production in new mothers (5). You can add fresh moringa leaves and moringa powder to garnish your food or hydrate with refreshing moringa tea to avail of its benefits.
Due to their estrogen properties, they help to aid nursing mothers to make more milk. They also contain essential fatty acids that are responsible for enabling your child’s brain development (6). ALA is extremely crucial for the improvement of the baby’s cognition and to replenish the nutrition of the mother. These are not produced naturally by the body and need to be supplemented through food. Whole flax seeds work better than the ground powder kind, opines Dr Shweta. You can sprinkle flax seeds on your cereals and salads and consume them in chutney form.
Nothing beats the intense flavour, pungent fragrance and medicinal properties of ginger. Fassai counsels using ginger spice in the diet of breastfeeding mothers is safe. In some parts of the world, ginger is given right after birth due to its healing properties. Some studies have found an increase in the volume of milk production of individuals who incorporate ginger into their diets (7). Close analysis of ginger showed promising results in relieving nausea, supporting digestion, reducing stress and boosting immunity. It can be added to any food or beverage as a flavouring agent, you can also make ginger ale or teas with ginger powder.
Adding almonds to your postnatal diet can work wonders for the health of your precious one. Raw almonds are abundant in healthy protein and calcium and many mothers love to snack on almonds as it makes the breast milk thicker, creamier and sweetened. They are a storehouse of essential vitamins, minerals, iron, zinc, manganese, iron, phosphorus and copper. Fast pace your recovery and improve your child’s immunity by munching on almonds.
Traditionally used, due to its numerous medicinal benefits and therapeutic properties. Turmeric is the powerhouse of vital micronutrients and bioactive components that provide the new mother with a myriad of health benefits. “This golden superfood has numerous benefits in store for new moms. It helps to increase milk production (8), aids in digestion, helps to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and also to deal with all the skin issues that come with pregnancy and postpartum. It has also been shown to be a natural antidepressant, which might be helpful for mothers with postpartum depression” says Dr Shweta. Turmeric can be added to your soups, salads, milk and curries.
Another non-toxic and completely Ayurvedic herb that is commonly recommended for increased breast production is Shatavari (9). This ancient herb is found in the Himalayas and is well known for its medicinal properties. It contains bioflavonoids, which is a plant component with inflammatory properties. It is rich in minerals like zinc, manganese, potassium, copper, selenium, potassium, vitamins and fatty acids. It helps to raise the levels of prolactin and corticoids that improve the quality of breast milk. Include foods and snacks with Shatavari as an active ingredient in it.
These superfoods need to be taken regularly for noticeable results. Although all of these remedial condiments are easily accessible and naturally available, consulting your gynaecologist before consuming them is advised.