There is definitely work involved in being a breastfeeding Mum. Even though it’s nature-driven, any mother worth her supply (no matter the volume) would tell you that it’s quite the job. Which is why anything that eases the effort involved or helps it along is something that they would be interested to consider.
For first timers, as well as seasoned breastfeeding mothers, they would definitely have heard of herbs, teas and various foods that are touted to boost lactation. For many, herbal tisanes, over-the-counter supplements and even trendy lactation cookies and brownies are common knowledge and are easily available, eventually becoming part and parcel of their confinement diet.
Perhaps because of this, many Mums take for granted that in order to have a good supply and a positive breastfeeding experience, consuming these so-called miracle foods are necessary. But the question many don’t think to ask is whether there is any real scientific evidence for the efficacy of any of these supplements on their milk supply.
Worse still, some urban myths about what can enhance breastmilk supply may cause more harm than good, for example if it contains high sugar content.
In reality, there is not enough evidence to show that food consumption of any kind has any effect on increasing milk supply or even the quality of the breastmilk. However, medical practitioners are not against moderate consumption of some popular teas and snacks that are said to promote lactation as long as these are not unhealthy or toxic in nature. We believe that whatever makes Mama happy will be paid forward in the milk she produces, provided she also latches or pumps more.
Focus on the family
Most baby doctors and lactation specialists would rather have breastfeeding Mums place a higher priority on their personal well-being and a generally healthy diet. This is because healthy habits would bring about a more positive and holistic effect on their capacity to breastfeed successfully and more than that, recover well post-birth.
So instead of binge eating lactation cookies (and putting on unnecessary weight!) or being too caught up #liquidgold and #oversupply hashtags on Instagram, make sure that you have a well-balanced and nutritious diet and stay hydrated. Many breastfeeding Mums – or postpartum Mums for that matter – neglect getting enough to drink because they’re too worried or caught up with dealing with baby, housework and pumping duties.
If you had a healthy birth and your baby does not have any specific medical problems, you don’t even have to completely deprive yourself of some of your favourite foods and beverages, including caffeinated or alcoholic drinks. Of course moderation is always key!
The other important thing to work on is spending lots of time playing and bonding with your baby right from birth. Doing this would create the feel-good vibes that would in turn promote the release of oxytocin and prolactin hormones, both of which stimulate the milk let-down reflex and as well as milk production.
So if you’re a breastfeeding mother who is not taking lactation supplements for whatever reason or if you haven’t begun breastfeeding and are overwhelmed with what you should be eating or not eating, err on the side of “less is more”. If nothing else, sticking to a moderate diet, remembering to drink when you’re thirsty and keeping a calm countenance might be the most helpful way to maintain a stable milk supply rather than doing anything extra.