Breastfeeding is a full-time job in itself, but stocking up on superfoods to help you through it doesn’t have to be.
Many moms feel hungrier when they’re breastfeeding because of the extra energy your body needs to produce milk, but when you’re lucky to get just a few free minutes to yourself a day, it’s easy for meals to become whatever you can grab and eat the fastest. But your body needs more than that and so does your baby, so we’ve put together this list of 20 items to add to your grocery list. And good news—many of these are probably already in your pantry.
Some mamas swear by oatmeal to increase their milk supply, and while there’s not actually scientific evidence to back this up, oatmeal does have a lot of iron. Low iron levels could possibly equal low milk supply, so eat up.
2. Kale or spinach
Leafy green veggies may help increase lactation, and bonus, some research suggests that babies who are exposed earlier to veggie flavors through breast milk may like those tastes better when they’re older. Here’s to veggie-loving toddlers.
3. Pumpkin seeds
Iron? Check. Protein? Check. Fiber? Check. You only need to eat a few ounces of pumpkin seeds to get almost all of your daily iron needs, so stock up at the store, or make ‘em yourself for a fun, kid-friendly activity. Here is my favorite recipe.
4. Whole wheat pasta
Carb lovers, rejoice. Complex carbs like whole-wheat pasta are high in fiber, iron, and other important minerals for milk production and nutrition.
Fruits like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are bursting with vitamin C, which not only amps up your immune system but is also key to bone development. It doesn’t matter if they’re fresh or frozen, so stock up.
You’ve probably heard of using ginger for morning sickness during pregnancy, but it also has postpartum benefits. Ginger is believed to be a galactagogue, AKA something that increases milk supply. Try putting some fresh ginger root into your favorite tea for an easy way to add it to your daily routine.
7. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds are packed with calcium, a particularly important nutrient for breastfeeding moms and babies. Three tablespoons provide 25 percent of the recommended amount for breastfeeding moms. Personally, I’ll take mine on a bagel, but for the more nutritiously-inclined, sprinkling them over a salad works too.
Salmon is filled with protein, omega-3s, vitamin B12, and tons of DHA, an essential fat for baby’s nervous system development. For the most bang for your buck, go for wild-caught salmon, which is higher in nutritional value.
Beef is an iron-rich food, and low iron levels can drain your energy and your milk supply. Now that the weather has finally turned, beef it up with this crock-pot chili recipe that takes less than 10 minutes to prep. Toss all ingredients into the crockpot in the morning, and dinner will literally make itself.
Crock Pot Chili (Serves 8)
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 40oz can Brooks Mild Chili Beans
- 1 16oz can stewed tomatoes in sauce
- 1 16oz can diced tomatoes with chilis
- 1 8oz can tomato sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 2-3 tbsp chili powder
- 1/8th tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 finely chopped yellow onion
Good news, garlic lovers: it is known to contain compounds that could help with lactation. And let’s be honest, what recipe isn’t better with garlic?
Some swear by turmeric to increase milk supply, and though there’s limited research to prove this theory, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory that has been shown to treat and prevent mastitis and help with breast engorgement. Sprinkle turmeric powder into hot water with lemon and honey for a homemade tea.
Carrots are filled with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that turns into vitamin A when you eat it—good for vision, immunity, and overall health for both you and baby.
13. Brown rice
The complex carbs in whole grains like brown rice can help boost your energy, and what new mom couldn’t use some more of that? Add some veggies and soy sauce to make a stir-fry side dish.
Studies show that women often lose some bone density while breastfeeding. That’s because if you aren’t getting enough calcium in your diet as a breastfeeding mom, your body will take it from the storage in your bones to get it to your baby. Just one glass of skim milk contains about 30 percent of the recommended daily calcium intake of 1000 mg. Plus, breastfed babies whose moms drink cow’s milk are less likely to develop a cow’s milk allergy later in life.
15. Greek yogurt
Not only will the protein in Greek yogurt help keep you fuller longer, but it’s a great way to get your calcium intake for those who would rather leave the milk drinking to the baby than to toss back a glass themselves.
Asparagus is packed with nutrients: folate, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, and it also stimulates the milk-production hormone, prolactin. Roast it using this recipe for the perfect side dish.
Avocado is a breastfeeding superfood filled with folate, potassium, and vitamins B, K, C, and E, as well as fiber and healthy fats that support your baby’s brain development. Try spreading some over toast for an easy snack or healthy breakfast.
18. Sweet potatoes
There’s nothing quite like the sleep deprivation that a newborn brings. Sweet potatoes have been shown to increase energy and fight fatigue, and they’re also filled with vitamin A, a key nutrient for baby’s vision development and immune system and organ function.
Eggs are loaded with nutrients like vitamin B12, which supports the nervous system. Some research shows that B12 may also boost your mood, your energy, and your memory. What new mom doesn’t want that?
Almonds are a good non-dairy source of calcium and are filled with omega-3 fatty acids, known to support the milk-making hormones. Add sliced almonds into your oatmeal, salad, cookies, or pastries, or grab a handful for a snack on-the-go.