New moms are often overwhelmed with having an infant to care for. How do I make sure my baby is getting the nutrients needed? How can I make sure I’m doing my part in supplying healthy breast milk? How did that mom on Facebook pump so much, and what’s her secret? Well, there are raw plant food sources that are excellent for ample healthy breast milk production. Not only are they easy to find, but they’re delicious, too!
1. Fennel: According to Donna Murray, RN and Dr. Meredith Shur, “Fennel is believed to be a galactagogue”—something that encourages and produces healthy breastmilk supply—with its usage “dating back to ancient Egypt.”1 Although fennel is present in most herbal teas for lactation and lactation cookies, it is best consumed as a raw vegetable, and even the seeds do the trick. Don’t worry, though—fennel is totally safe to consume as you nurse your baby. It also can aid with healthy digestion and increasing libido levels.1 But, as is true with anything else, balance is key; eating too much of it can actually lead to a decrease in supply because you aren’t getting these nutrients from anywhere else. Fennel and fennel seeds are readily available at your local supermarket. This is a viable option for those looking to increase breast milk supply.
2. Apricot: Apricot, a sweet fruit that resembles a small peach, is also a superstar in increasing the production of fortified breast milk. Sanford Health even says that “eating apricots and dates can increase prolactin, which is the hormone that tells your body to produce milk.”2 Besides that, apricots “contain essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium,”2 making this an all-around stellar choice for your health and the health of your baby. Who doesn’t love a sweet treat that is also packed with all kinds of goodies for your body?
3. Papaya: Papaya not only increases milk supply, but is stellar in helping mother maintain a healthy weight post-partum and keeping your immune system high, thanks to its high vitamin C content.3 For nursing moms, green papaya has more of the lactation- producing compound that also regulates production and supply, called oxytocin, so that’s more of the way to go than its orange counterparts if you’re worried about getting proper nutrition to your baby.
4. Leafy Greens: The term “leafy greens” is often thrown around as a blanket for all vegetables that are both leafy and green, including Romaine lettuce, kale, broccoli, and Swiss chard, to name a few. These superfoods contain fiber, antioxidants, and calcium, all of which are important for you and your baby,2 says Stanford Health. Also, they’re super low-calorie, so eating these all day long makes for a guilt-free snack. When leafy greens can be eaten raw the most nutrients will be kept intact.
5. Sprouted Beans: Sprouted beans are an excellent option as well. The American Institute of Cancer Research conducted a study on beans and their beneficial properties; as it turns out, beans are high in phytochemicals. Phytochemicals “stimulate the immune system, block bad substances we eat, drink and breathe from becoming carcinogens, prevent DNA damage, and help with DNA repair.”2 It is suggested that some beans should be consumed raw because cooked foods are high in acrylamides, which are also carcinogens and toxic to your system and for your baby, as well. During pregnancy and always, it’s an excellent health boost to grow sprouts right on your kitchen counter. There are some beans that should never be eaten raw, such as kidney beans, which can be quite toxic uncooked.
Mung beans or lentils, which are sold at many health food stores, can easily be sprouted in just a couple days and make a delicious addition to any salad or even eaten for a snack…They make for fabulous protein during pregnancy and after.
When you’re breastfeeding, it’s one of the most important times in life to make sure you’re putting only the nutrients you need into your system, as what you eat affects a very fragile, young baby’s wellbeing. Besides, these foods have long-lasting and other holistic health benefits that will keep you and yours going strong for a lifetime—hit your produce section and stock up!
3 https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/why-you-should-eat-papaya-during-breastfeeding/5 Raw Food
Written by Caroline McNally, Ramapo College Intern with Karen Ranzi, M.A.