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Let’s talk … galactagogues!

If you’re a breastfeeding Mum, and you suspect that your milk supply has increased since you incorporated oats into your diet, you may well be right!

For thousands of years, breastfeeding mums have been eating particular foods that are believed to increase the quantity and quality of their milk. Scientific research is still a bit thin in this area, but increasingly studies are showing links between consuming lactogenic(milk-making) foods and breastmilk supply and quality.[1]

Oats sit within this group of foods and herbs, which are known as “galactagogues” (from the Greek “galacta” meaning “milk”, “-agogue” meaning “promoting”). Foods in this group include:

●    whole grains (including oats)

●    dark green and leafy veg

●    ginger root

●    sesame, chia and flaxseeds

●    nuts, especially raw almonds

●    Brewer’s Yeast (which is high in B vitamins and minerals)

The list of breastmilk boosting herbs includes fennel, fenugreek, blessed thistle and milk thistle. There are some lovely herbal tea blends out there for breastfeeding mums (I’m not affiliated with these brands, but I do like Hottea Mama and Nipper & Co).

Generally speaking, these breastmilk ‘superfoods’ sit quite happily inside a normal, healthy varied diet. You’ll find many of them in MamaNourish recipes because they’re powerhouses of fabulous vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. If you are looking to introduce something new into your diet though, remember to do it gradually to avoid breast engorgement or upset tummies (sudden changes in your breastmilk can affect your baby too!). And if you decide to take a galactagogue in supplement form, rather than as a wholefood, I’d recommend taking the advice of a doctor or lactation specialist first. 

Whether you are looking to establish or to maintain your milk supply, keep well hydrated. Put your baby to the breast as often as you can, as this encourages your body to keep producing milk.

Lastly, if you are worried about your baby’s feeding or your ability to produce enough milk, please reach out for help sooner rather than later. I’ve linked some brilliant UK-based resources below that I found helpful on my breastfeeding journey.

 “Making More Milk : The Breastfeeding Guide to Increasing your Milk Production” (2nd Edition, McGraw Hill, Dec 2019.

“A Mother’s Garden of Galactagogues : A guide to growing and using milk-boosting herbs and food from around the world (Mother Food Books Series)” (Rosalind Press, Feb 2021)

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