As a new mom, the idea that you are your baby’s world can be exhilarating, gratifying – and absolutely terrifying. You dream big dreams for your little one, and would give anything to make sure they are happy, healthy, and well taken care of.
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This desire is good and natural, but it can also be immensely stressful. This is especially so for the process of breastfeeding, which has been given much emphasis as the best form of nutrition for babies in their first 6 months of life. Although the benefits of breastfeeding are undeniable, it remains a common struggle for many new mothers, though not one often discussed openly.
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Perhaps the lack of time or support gets in the way of breastfeeding. Or perhaps your body just isn’t producing milk the way you hoped it would. This can be frustrating because it represents an apparent lack of control over something so important. Brands of clothes or diapers can be chosen at will, but the amount of milk your body produces at any given time…may not be that easy to dictate.
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But there’s hope. Support systems and resources are just a Google click away. And research is increasingly looking into simple, effective ways to help a mother increase her supply of milk. The simplest (and tastiest!) of these ways is through the use of food.
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Here are 5 easy foods that can boost breast milk production – and are good for you, too!
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Oatmeal, granola, oat cookies..the possibilities are endless! Besides stimulating milk production, oats are also packed with fiber, which is good for digestive health and for your heart. It is still unclear why oats increase milk production – but, as they’re good for you, can be easily added to your regular diet, and are absolutely delicious (especially in granola form!), they’re certainly worth a try.
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Nuts are more than just a crunchy addition to your diet – they contain an abundance of healthy fat that is good for your heart (and the creaminess of your milk!). They also contain many essential amino acids, one of which is needed for the regulation of mood. Thus, nuts can combat stress and low mood, which are well-known disruptors of milk supply. Grab a handful of raw nuts, mix some into your oatmeal (double milk booster!) or pick up a tasty nut mix as a quick snack.
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Pungent, savory garlic is added to food worldwide to enhance the flavours in various dishes – and it functions in much the same way in your breast milk. It has been shown that the garlicky flavour is passed into the milk, which babies seem to enjoy. The increased amount and frequency of sucking introduces extra stimulation which is thought to also increase lactation. So throw some extra garlic into your favourite dishes – just make sure your toothbrush is on hand afterwards!
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Salmon is often touted as a healthy food for everyone, thanks to its excellent content of quality protein and essential fatty acids. One of these fatty acids, DHA, is known to play a critical role in the development of babies’ brains – and the more DHA a mother consumes, the more DHA is in her breast milk. Salmon also appears to increase breast milk production, although the reason behind this is still unknown. However, it is recommended that no more than 2-3 servings of salmon a week be consumed due to its possible mercury content.
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Water (and milk!)
Breast milk, like other milks, is 88% water. Thus, it is unsurprising that dehydration is one of the leading causes of poor milk production. In a tropical climate especially, dehydration can set in quickly and without many outward symptoms. To prevent dehydration, be conscious of your water consumption and drink at least 1.8-2 L of fluids daily. Download a water tracking app to keep you on track throughout the day. And, be sure to include calcium-containing beverages (like milk, fortified soymilk, or other fortified drinks) to make sure you and baby both get the calcium you need for strong bones and teeth!
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Try these simple foods out if you’re concerned about your breast milk supply. Alone or in combination (think granola and milk topped with nuts, or a salmon garlic stir-fry), these foods are delicious and good for you, besides having the potential to boost lactation.
And don’t forget to take a deep breath, relax, and remember – you’re doing the best you can, and the love you have for your baby is the best gift you have to give.
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In celebration of the boundless love of mothers everywhere, we’ve created a special Lavender Honey Granola for Mother’s Day! Warm, sweet, and nourishing – just like a mother. Join us in #feedingmom the best nature has to offer this Mother’s Day!