Tuck into milk-boosting foods
Two foods in particular have been shown to help improve breast milk production:
This small, yellow seed with a bitter, burnt-sugar flavour7 has been used for centuries to increase breast milk flow. It works by stimulating sweat production. As the breast is a modified sweat gland, this means you may see increased milk volume too.8 Although, you might feel a bit more sweaty than usual! A 2011 study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found that women given fenugreek tea daily produced more breast milk, and their babies also regained their birth weight faster.9
A Greek botanist first discovered fennel’s breast milk-boosting properties around 60AD and ever since, mothers have been using fennel to improve their milk flow. Researchers at the University of Antioquia in Colombia reported in a 2014 overview that including fennel in your diet may help increase milk supply.10 Fennel can taste of aniseed when raw, but cooking softens this flavour.11 Sprinkle raw or roasted fennel on your salads, stir it into risottos and stir-fries, or bake in a gratin.
Oats and sesame seeds
There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence from mothers that oats and sesame seeds may help increase breast milk flow. In the UK, USA and Australia, new mums bake ‘lactation cookies’ containing oats, while in Mexico, sesame seed cakes are eaten by breastfeeding women.12,13 However, there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims.