Foods to Increase Breast Milk Supply

Some foods and drinks are lactogenic, and may help boost breast milk supply.

Women breastfeeding at dinner table

Verywell / Jiaqi Zhou

If you want to make more breast milk, you can try eating foods to increase milk supply. Throughout the world, women in different cultures eat certain foods to give their milk production a boost.

Breast milk production is directly related to how often your baby nurses (and to some extent, how often you pump). You will need to eat more calories than usual during this time, because your body needs that extra energy to make milk. Consider adding foods to your diet that have been found to have a positive impact on milk production.

Learn more about which foods to each and what to drink to increase breast milk.

10 Foods That Increase Milk Supply

Some of these foods are full of vitamins and minerals. Others contain chemical properties that may help increase the production of breast milk. Whatever the reason, these breastfeeding superfoods are believed to promote and support a healthy supply of breast milk.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are very nutritious for breastfeeding parents. They're thought to have properties that support the hormones responsible for making breast milk. So, eating whole grains may increase your breast milk supply. The most common grain that can help increase breast milk is slow-cooked old-fashioned oatmeal. You can also try barley, whole-grain brown rice, oatmeal cookies, or other foods made from whole grains.

Dark Green Vegetables

Dark leafy green vegetables such as alfalfa, lettuce, kale, spinach, and broccoli are full of nutrients, especially calcium. They also contain phytoestrogens that may have a positive effect on breast milk production.

Fennell

Fennel is a plant from the Mediterranean. Fennel seeds add flavor to many different foods, but fennel is also a vegetable that can be cooked or eaten raw. The bulb, stalk, and leaves of the fennel plant are edible, and you can add them to soups, stews, or other fennel recipes. The plant estrogens found in fennel may help nursing mothers make more breast milk.

Garlic

Garlic is very nutritious, and it's a healthy addition to most diets. It is also believed to be a galactagogue, helping nursing people make more breast milk. Even though garlic has a strong odor that does go into breast milk, it seems that some infants like the taste. Studies show that garlic-flavored milk may help keep breastfed babies nursing longer. On the other hand, some children may not tolerate garlic very well. If your child shows signs of a food sensitivity after you eat garlic, you may want to try to avoid the garlic for a while. Follow your little one's lead. You can add garlic to your diet by using it to flavor many dishes, including vegetables, meats, seafood, pasta, and sauces.

Chickpeas

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans or Ceci (chi-chi) beans, are a common legume used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. People who are nursing have been eating chickpeas to make more breast milk since ancient Egyptian times. Chickpeas are a nutritious food that is high in protein. They also contain plant estrogens that may help for use as a galactagogue. You can add chickpeas to pasta or salads. Hummus, a tasty spread or dip made from chickpeas, is another way to enjoy this very healthy bean.

Sesame Seeds

High in calcium and estrogen-like plant properties, breastfeeding parents use sesame seeds to make more breast milk. You can eat sesame seeds alone, as an ingredient in the recipes you prepare, as a topping for salads, or in a trail mix combined with other seeds, nuts, and dried fruit.

Almonds

Nuts, especially raw almonds are healthy and full of protein and calcium. Many nursing people choose to eat almonds or drink almond milk to increase the creaminess, sweetness, and amount of their breast milk.

Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil

Like sesame seeds, flaxseed has phytoestrogens that can influence breast milk production. Flaxseed also contains essential fatty acids.

Fresh Ginger Root

Fresh ginger is not only a healthy addition to your diet, but it can also increase breast milk production and help with the let-down reflex. You can easily add fresh, raw ginger to the dishes you cook. You can also add ginger to your daily routine by drinking ginger ale made with real ginger or by boiling the raw ginger and making tea. While fresh ginger is considered safe, you shouldn't take ginger supplements without first consulting your healthcare professional.

Brewer's Yeast

Brewer's yeast is a very healthy nutritional supplement that contains B vitamins, iron, protein, chromium, selenium, and other minerals. Breastfeeding parents use it to not only help you to make more breast milk, but it may also give you more energy, have a positive effect on your mood, and get rid of the baby blues. You can find brewer's yeast in tablet or powder form.

3 Drinks That Increase Milk Supply

Drinking fluids helps boost your milk supply, and some types of fluids give you an extra boost as well.

Nursing Teas

Lactation teas are one of the most common choices for people who wish to boost their milk supply. Nursing tea may contain a single herb or a combination of herbs that work together to support lactation and increase breast milk production. The herbs found in breastfeeding tea include fenugreekblessed thistlemilk thistle, and fennel. Besides increasing the supply of breast milk, teas are also comforting and relaxing. Plus, they're easy to prepare.

Oat Milk

Oats are a whole grain that has been proven to increase milk supply. They contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan that may raise prolactin levels in the body. Oat milk is a drink made from oats that tastes naturally sweet. You can drink it alone or add it to your cereal.

Water

Drinking water is one of the simplest ways to ensure that your body can produce plenty of breast milk for your baby. While breastfeeding, you should drink even more water than the required amount. This is because breast milk is 87% water and during the postpartum period, your body is losing more water than usual. Aim for about eight cups of water each day.

How to Use Food to Boost Breast Milk Supply

Not all women see results from eating lactation foods, but it certainly doesn't hurt to try them. If you eat a well-balanced, breastfeeding diet, many of these foods may already be a part of it. Since most of these items are healthy and nutritious, adding a few more should be OK.

Just keep in mind that, like everything else, you do not want to overdo consuming lactogenic foods.

If they seem to be working for you, be sure to monitor the increase in your breast milk supply carefully. Once you reach a point where you feel comfortable, begin to cut back on how much of the lactogenic foods you're eating.

If you continue to increase your milk supply, you could end up with too much breast milk. An overabundant supply of breast milk could lead to an entirely different set of problems such as breast engorgement, plugged milk ducts, and mastitis.

Foods vs. Supplements

Eating fresh versions of these foods to support lactation is safe and even healthy. Of course, just like everything else, don't overdo it. Too much of anything is never a good idea. You should also keep in mind that supplements are not the same as fresh foods. Before taking any supplement versions of these milk-boosting foods, talk to your healthcare professional or a lactation consultant.

A Word From Verywell

Some foods and drinks may be able to increase your supply. There is no harm in trying them, but always remember that feeding your baby is the most important thing. If you aren't producing enough for your baby, the best thing you can do for them is supplement with formula.

8 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading
  • Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM clinical protocol# 9: use of galactogogues in initiating or augmenting the rate of maternal milk secretion (First revision January 2011). Breastfeeding Medicine. 2011 Feb 1;6(1):41-9.

  • Jacobson, Hilary. Mother FoodRosalind Press. 2004.

  • Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.
  • Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.
  • Whitney, E., Rolfes, S. Understanding Nutrition Edition Fourteenth Edition. Cengage Learning. 2015.

By Donna Murray, RN, BSN
Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.