How can I make my breastmilk rich and nutritious?

I just read an article and let me tell you, I had to actually take some time to stop myself from screaming at the computer. This article claimed that they had all of the steps you need to take to make the “best recipe” for breastmilk. This is not only completely misleading, it’s in my opinion dangerous and just annoying. We are BOMBARDED with information 24/7. We hear all sorts of things about how to make the healthiest milk and most of them are just plain wrong and all it does is confuse people.

→Research shows that almost every component in breastmilk is actually not changed by the mother’s diet, with one of the only exceptions being fatty acids [1].←

This is because our bodies are actually brilliant at survival! We have been around (as what we know as the modern human species) for around 200,00 years. Our ancestors were here 6 million years ago. And we have evolved in a way that allows us to nourish our babies, toddlers and small children with our milk without having to rely on a perfect diet to have the perfect composition. Why is this?…

Historically we have not had food security (we went through feast or famine for most of our history as humans) and of course millions and millions of people around the world still live like this. Our bodies are designed to be able to nourish and grow our offspring without needing to spend thousands of dollars on supplements, relaxation CD’s for milk supply, lactation cookies, teas and having a perfect diet.

→So what do we need to do instead? These two simple steps…←

1. Eat real, whole foods as much as possible, including those filled with good bacteria (fermented and cultured foods).

2 Drink some water.

Oh, AND just so you know:

Yup you can drink coffee… After spending a collective total of a decade (plus) of breastfeeding my three boys…coffee was my happy place. Will is affect some babies? Yes. If you drink a cup and your baby acts unsettled then don’t drink coffee. However, luckily for us caffeine loving mamas, research shows that for the vast majority of women, having a cup or two of coffee per day will not affect their babies…or the nutrient status of the milk. Caffeine is categorised as Lactation Risk Category L2 (safer) [2]. If I couldn’t have had a cup of coffee or two while breastfeeding I think I would have actually died. Here is a photo of me surviving, drinking coffee.

Mmmmmmm coffee!

Yup you can eat broccoli, onion, garlic and whatever other spice or vegetable they are telling you to avoid…This one really gets my knickers in a twist. Do you think that in a place like India (where they use heaps of spices, onion and garlic in cooking) suddenly stop eating these foods once they are lactating? Definitely not! WHEN EATEN IN MODERATION and/or as they were eaten by us during pregnancy, they are highly unlikely to affect our babies. Did you eat a huge pile of broccoli and cabbage and noticed your baby had increased gas? Don’t do that tomorrow then. Just eat 2 pieces of broccoli and a small pile of cabbage instead. Of course if you overdose on one of these foods it has the ability to upset your baby. But that’s with any type of food, medication or drink. Have a colicky baby? Don’t cut out onion, read this article here for guidance.

NOPE, exercise has nothing to do with it…Another thing this article said was that exercising encouraged good breastmilk quality and production. Um…I don’t know about you but between breastfeeding, not sleeping, barely having time to pee or eat or poop without an audience…exercise was not my priority for a long time. And there is absolutely NO RESEARCH WHATSOEVER that shows exercise is vital to having high quality breastmilk. Because again let’s be logical here…we’re busy. We’ve always been busy since the beginning of time. If exercise was a key component to making perfect milk then we’d have died out as a species looooooooong ago.

My message to exercise.

NOPE, a bowl of oatmeal and spices will not support milk supply…How great would it be if this was actually true? I could just show up to people with a bowl of oatmeal and cinnamon to increase the “quality” of their milk! You could eat 3 bowls of oatmeal per day and fill every meal with spices…the composition of your milk will still be the same.

NOPE, lack of sleep will not affect your supply or your milk quality. If that was the case then all of us sleep deprived mothers who have not slept in ten years would have been dried up and started formula feeding. We all want more sleep, we all dream (day dream of course because w’re not sleeping so we’re not for real dreaming) about more sleep, and talk about wanting more sleep…but it is not going to affect the quality of our milk. (Head here if you want some more info on all things sleep)

breastfeeding, co-sleeping, bedsharing

Breastfeeding (and not sleeping) with Mini The Milk.

NOPE, you don’t need to spend 1,000 worth of supplements to make nutritious milk. Just eat real foods. Drink some water throughout the day. Use some common sense. Keep it simple. We don’t need to complicated this. Eat real, whole foods as much as possible including healthy fats (avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, fermented soy products, fish, meat and eggs). As recommended to every single human being on earth, regardless if they are lactating or not…don’t eat junk. We’re not that special just because we happen to be breastfeeding. Sorry, but it’s true! And I don’t know about you, but it actually brings me some comfort knowing this.

The End.

Keep On Boobin’! ♥

Meg Nagle, IBCLC

  1. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/99/3/734S/4577501
  2. Hale T. Rowe H (2017) Medication and mother’s milk, New York: Springer Publishing Company.

{I hope you feel better now about the quality of your milk! If you are concerned about the VOLUME of your milk and that you have low supply, please contact me.}

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2018-06-21T11:19:09+00:00June 19th, 2018|Creative Breastfeeding|0 Comments