8 Lactation Foods Every New Mom Should Know

Feel healthier while making more milk for your baby with these lactation foods every mom should know.

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A Young mother holding her baby child. Mom nursing baby.

What foods are good for lactation?

When you’re a breastfeeding mama, what you eat is vital to your health and your babe’s as well. A healthy diet to support breastfeeding isn’t too different from your pregnancy meal plan. Look for fresh, nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.

Your body will need extra calories and vitamins right now. Aim for about 300 to 400 extra calories per day and be sure to add in fiber, iron and healthy fats. One study found a link between low iron in the blood (anemia) and low milk production, so incorporate high-iron foods like leafy greens and lean protein. Here’s our full guide to the best iron-rich foods.

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Washed fresh mini spinach in a colander on the old concrete table
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Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like spinach, kale or Swiss chard are loaded with healthy nutrients for you and baby. They’re rich in iron to help boost milk production and are a great source of antioxidants. If you usually enjoy a salad at lunch, ditch the iceberg lettuce and up the plant power with leafy greens. Try these flavor-packed spinach salad recipes.

Not a fan of the green stuff? Toss a handful of fresh spinach or kale into your morning smoothie. You’ll get all the nutrients in a fruity treat.

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Brown rice and vegetables
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Brown Rice

Adding brown rice to your meal will help you stay full and up your energy. Brown rice is rich in fiber for a healthy gut and B vitamins for energy and milk supply. It’s a breastfeeding mama’s best friend because it’s quick and easy to prepare while you hold the baby. Try incorporating some healthy brown rice recipes this week.

Just make sure you’re cooking it the right way!

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Oatmeal with berries and nuts
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Oats are one of the easiest lactation foods to start incorporating into your diet today. They’re rich in iron to help with milk supply, as well as soluble and insoluble fiber to prevent constipation (if you recently gave birth, you know how important that is!)

Start your day with an easy bowl of oatmeal or add a tablespoon of oats to your smoothie for a thick, milkshake-y treat.

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Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cookies with Raw Ingredients on a Marble Counter
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Brewers Yeast

What brewers yeast lacks in flavor, it makes up for in milk-boosting properties. Brewers yeast is believed to increase your milk supply and help with let-down. It’s also high in B vitamins, which is especially important if you follow a vegetarian or vegan eating plan. The taste isn’t great, so disguise it in a sweet smoothie or lactation cookies.

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White sesame and black sesame seed on wooden spoon

Sesame Seeds

A sesame seed may not look like much, but it could help feed your baby. Sesame seeds are rich in calcium, which some experts believe is why they help boost milk supply. That makes them a great food for any dairy-free mamas who need a calcium boost. Sprinkle them over a healthy stir-fry or if you’re craving some heat, whip up these exotic five-spice chicken wings.

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Loaf of wholegrain bread and slices on wooden cutting board.
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Whole Grains

When you’re breastfeeding, you may find that you’re craving sweets and carbs. Support your health and baby’s development by going for whole grains like whole-wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice. They’re rich in fiber and B vitamins to give you an energy boost while helping with milk production. Here’s how to cook whole grains the right way.

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Grilled salmon fillets and herb decoration in old roasted pan.
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The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon won’t just give you strong hair and glowing skin; they’ll help with milk production too! These healthy fats can boost milk supply and may even help prevent postpartum depression, so start incorporating salmon one to two times per week. Try roasting it in the oven or grilling it for some extra crunch.

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Raw sweet potatoes on wooden background

Sweet Potatoes

Packed with fiber and vitamin A, sweet potatoes can help support breastfeeding while promoting your baby’s vision and development. Roasted sweet potato fries can make a perfect afternoon snack; if you’re in the mood for something sweet, try this pecan sweet potato bake.

Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.