Foods that Increase Breast Milk
by Gwendolyn Moore, MPH, RD | Dec. 2012 | http://speakingofraw.com
Breastfeeding is the preferred way of feeding infants during the first year of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies for at least 6 months.
One survey found that although less than 1 percent of moms intend to breast feed for greater than 1 month; however, only 40 percent of women last that long and as many as two-thirds of women do not breast feed as long as they would have liked. In the end, by the time 6 months rolls around, less than 30% of mothers are still breastfeeding.
The benefits of breastfeeding are tremendous on many levels. From the stand point of nutrition, breast milk is deemed to be the perfect food, conferring immunity and a strong foundation resulting in less allergies, colds and infections as compared to children who are not breastfed.
Immunologically, breast milk has antibodies that transfer the mothers immunity to baby and conversely; if baby picks up a bug it is then passed to mom who then produces antibodies against the invader and in turn, passes the antibodies to baby for protection against the invader.
Emotionally, mother to baby contact produces bonding and such bonding stimulates ocytocin, (the love hormone); which further enhances moms drive to nurture baby and is produced in greater quantities after childbirth.
Although there are numerous reasons why women do not continue to breastfeed as long as intended, hopefully, this article will serve to ensure that less than adequate nutrition, isn’t one of them.
Nutrition is the biochemistry of life and contains the nutrients from which are bodies are “constructed, repaired and energized.” The nutritional value of mom’s milk is influenced by her diet.
Generally speaking, lactating moms should increase their daily caloric intake by 500 calories. To estimate calories take your ideal weight in pounds and divide by 2.2 to get the kilogram wight and x the kg weight by 30. Then add 500 calories to this amount.
For example if a woman weighs 120 pounds her kg weight would be 54 kg x 30 = 1636 calories + 500 calories = 2136 total calories per day. In addition, proper rest and adequate hydration are also important. To find out your ideal body weight google ideal body weight and you will readily find numerous online charts. Here is one such reference: http://www.nchmd.org/HealthTools/hbwcalc.html#results
In short, the daily fare ideally, should be organic, with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit (limit the fruit to 3 per day) as fruit can be high in sugar and raise the glycemic index; which in turn causes the body to produce insulin; which hormone also stores fat. Thus eating foods low on the glycemic index/load is wise for those concerned about blood sugar levels and weight. The recommended amount of servings of fruit and vegetables is 9-11 servings per day. Keep carbohydrate intake to 45-60 grams per meal to keep blood glucose level. Carbohydrate servings can be measured in units of 15 grams per serving. For the sake of illustration and based on approximate values: 1 slice of organic wholewheat bread = 15 grams (g); 1 small apple = 15g. You may want to limit the grains to quinoa, millet and buckwheat (soaked overnight).
Best to avoid all white flour, sugar and all foods made from them. Flee fried foods and processed carbohydrates (full of hydrogenated fats, salt, sugar and preservatives). Get plenty of liquids, a minimum of 8 glasses of filtered water per day. Additionally, you may want to consider fresh vegetable juicing. Juicing is an excellent way to hydrate and get a good source of liquid vitamins and minerals. Fresh juice is pre-digested into a form that goes right to the cells. Properly extracted vegetable juicing is preferred over blending (some think that the force of the speed in blenders cause the juice to oxidize rapidly).
Include a large green salad daily with alfalfa, and sunflower sprouts, add sunflower seeds, sprinkle with freshly ground flaxseeds and include fermented cultured vegetables on a daily basis, 1/4 – 1/2 cup with each meal. Start with 1-2 tablespoons at first, with each meal. Afterwards, work your way up to 1/2 cup daily with each meal. Naturally grown probiotics are very potent and one may encounter a die-off reaction and experience a bit of gas, but this will pass. Some homemade saurkrauts are far more potent than probiotics found in a pill by ten times. However, if you prefer probiotics in pill form, be sure and get a good, high quality form such as Enzymatica.
Eat lean protein and liquid broths made from 100% organically grown grass fed meats. Use the broth to cook your quinoa, millet and buckwheat. Additionally, y ou may want to consider giving baby a few drops (from an eye dropper) of juice from homemade saurkraut to encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gastro-intestinal tract. In my opinion–secondarily to breastfeeding–feeding naturally grown probiotics, such as the juice of saurkraut to baby is one of the most important foundational nutrition oriented act that mothers can do for their children. This helps to establish a balanced and healthy gut flora in the GI tract. See previous article on the Health Benefits of Cultured Vegetables. Other forms of fermented foods include kim-chi, natto and raw milk kefir (homemade from 100% grass fed raw milk) and kefir starter.
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Lastly, it is suggested that both mom and baby supplement with B-12 and that mom supplement with D3, Omega-3 Fish Oil
Foods that are known to increase the production of breast milk
Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., director of education at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, and an authority on herbal medicine. She said that most lactation teas contain fenugreek seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum), which is widely used to enhance the production of breast milk. Fenugreek is quite safe at the amounts used in tea or capsules. The dose is generally 3 grams per day (2 capsule s three times per day) or one cup of tea three times per day. To make the tea, use 30 to 50 grams of fenugreek seeds to one cup of boiling water; strain out the seeds, sweeten, and drink three to four cups a day. For people who don’t like the taste of this drink, capsules might be a better option. You should see an increase in milk production within 72 hours after starting to consume fenugreek.
Dr. T. L. also noted that you may notice a funny smell in the urine and that there isn’t any reason to be concerned.
Additional Foods that May Increase Breast milk
- Oatmeal Blessed thistle Alfalfa
- Nettle* Red Star Nutritional Yeast
- Beet leaves
- Raw Almonds
- Cashews Black Sesame Seeds
- Adequate Hydration w/filtered water (Have a glass w/each feeding).
- Sweet Potatoes
*Used w/Fenugreek for centuries to increase breast milk. Note: Always use herbs with caution. Consult with your physician to discuss the fact that you may be taking herbs.
Nutrient Concerns for Vegetarians
- Vitamin B12
-Omega 3 Fatty Acids (EPA/DHA) of animal origin
Yes n-3 fatty acids can be obtained from certain plant foods such as flaxseeds, chia seeds and other sources; however, plant sources are deemed to have a poor conversion rate. Vitamin B12, is generally low in vegetarians, see below for more discussion concerning this vitally important vitamin (that is actually a hormone). Vitamin D3 is best supplemented or best assimilated from animal sources. Cholesterol (if too low, this could be a problem) as cholesterol forms the lining of the cell membrane of every cell in the body and is a precursor for making hormones.
RDI or Recommended Daily Intake of Selected Nutrients for Lactation
(Based on a 2000 calorie diet)
Nutrient Amount Comments/Suggested Sources
- Protein 1.05 g, sources: Goji berries, Bee Pollen, quinoa (soaked), Garden of Life Raw Protein Powder, millet, buckwheat
- Vitamin A 900 mg, found in meat, dairy (vegetable sources are precursors for vit. A and the conversion is poor)
- B12 2.4 mcg, Red Star Nutritional Yeast; sublingual cyanocobolamin in supplement form
- Iron 6.5 mg, found in Raw cacao (unprocessed whole chocolate); also very high in magnesium
- Zinc 10.4 mg, found primarily in meat
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids (EPA/DHA) 1.1g -4g/day n-3 fatty acids. Studies show EPA/DHA with a higher concentration of DHA helps with post partum depression. Sources include: Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements, E-3 Live Marine Phytoplankton, Golden Brown Flaxseeds(ground in coffee grinder), 2 TBSP =3.5 g and 1 for oz. salmon = 1.5 grams [wh.foods.com]
- Vitamin D3 600 IU (supplement form is best)
- Calcium 1000 mg, found in broccoli, raw almonds, homemade yogurt, blackstrap molasses
-Raw Milk Kefir (homemade with Organic, 100% grass-fed cows)
-Raw milk cheese*
Concerns of B12 deficiency in Lactating Vegetarian Women
who are Breastfeeding
Of particular concern when breastfeeding is the possibility of being deficient in vitamin B12. This vitamin is stored in the liver and kidneys; which means that if one is deficient and upon serum blood testing, the deficiency isn’t readily indicated. However, after 7 years the deficiency is apparent–although, at this point, there is the possibility of irreversible brain damage.
According to Gabriel Cousens, MD, low B12 status in moms during pregnancy is associated with low myelin sheath protection (coating for the nerves) and clinical manifestations occur as early as 1 – 12 months in the babies of B12 deficient moms.
Consider the following quote of Michael Donaldson in his summary points on
“the “Hallelujah Diet:”
Vitamin B12 requirement is about 1-4 g/week for healthy adults.
What happens if I don’t have B12?
- Deficiency of vitamin B12 leads to anemia and neurological disorders; deficiency in children can cause profound damage, much of which is reversible.
- A normal level of serum vitamin B12 does not guarantee adequacy, methylmalonic acid concentrations (either serum or urine) are a much more reliable metabolic measure of vitamin B12 metabolism.
- People following a pure vegetarian (vegan) diet are at high risk (>50%) for metabolic vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Metabolic vitamin B12 deficiency can be detected in as little as 22 months on the Hallelujah diet. It does not take a long time.
The vegetarian community tend to rely on seaweeds of nori, dulse, chlorella for B12; however, these are analogues and can interfere with normal metabolic processes due to competitive inhibition.
The RDI or recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 for lactating moms is 2.4 mcg per day. Cousens points out that this level is too low and states that a value less than 450 mcg, constitutes deficiency. Further, Cousens further states and suggests that the urine assay for methylmalonic acid for testing of B12 for a truer predictive value versus standard serum testing.
Signs of B12 Deficiency
- low energy
- nervous system degeneration (affects peripheral nerves and spinal cord)
- numbing and tingling in hands and feet
- poor tongue
- macrocytic anemia (large blood cells)
- low platelets-low white blood cells
Lactating moms who are breastfeeding should eat a healthy diet that is balanced, nutrient dense and provides extra calories and water to support a growing baby. B12 supplementation is recommended for both mother and baby. Vegetable juicing is a good way to supply a liquid and readily absorb-able source of vitamins and minerals. Note, it is advisable to juice your vegetables and EAT your fruit. If you are vegetarian and in particular vegan, it is advisable to be cognizant of the nutrients of concern .
- B-12, sublingual cyanocobolamin or spray mist
- Omega 3 Fish Oil (EPA/DHA or Krill Oil, or E-3 Live
- Vitamin D-3
Resources for organic infant formulas and BPA free bottles:
Organic Baby formulas: http://www.organic-baby-resource.com/organic-infant-formula.html#
Home Made Infant Formula: http://www.biblicalhealthinstitute.com/Resources/JordanRubinsRecipes/tabid/80/itemid/3462/Default.aspx
Unfortunately commercially prepared formulas leave much to be desired in terms of quality ingredients, as they are suspected of being packaged with rancid vegetable oils, corn syrup that may be non-organic and genetically modified; non-fat milk and stored inside of BPA (Bisphenol-A) lined cans.
Additionally, these formulas are milk based and if there is a history of allergies in the family this could be a problem for baby as they may be sensitive to the protein in the milk. Note that soy milk isn’t any better.
Although there is a derth in this area, home-made infant formulas are to be used with caution as to potentially be devoid of critical nutrients needed for proper growth and development. Another thought is to spruce up the commercially prepared formula with nutritional goodies.
More Breastfeeding Resources:
- www.La Leche League International
References furnished upon request
Article written by: Gwendolyn Moore, MPH, RD | December 2012 | http://speakingofraw.com