8 foods that boost milk supply

8 foods that boost milk supply

Date: Friday, Aug 14, 2020

Breastfeeding is best—but it can be a struggle, too. Just ask those new mums who suffer from a low supply of breast milk, constantly worrying about how to boost their milk supply. If you're worried about the amount of milk you're producing, a lactation consultant will give you the most appropriate advice for your situation.

They might lay down rules such as breastfeeding more often and breastfeeding from both sides. (This is because the more milk is removed from your breasts, the more milk they'll produce.)

There are schools of thought that also prescribe certain foods to encourage milk production. These foods are referred to as galactagogues, and can come in the form of foods, herbs or medications.1

Here are eight foods that are believed to boost a mother's milk supply.


This whole grain is packed with iron; mums who have low levels of this mineral tend to produce a low supply of milk. Oats also contain protein, carbohydrates and fibre which contribute to the production of more and better-quality breast milk.2

You can eat this food in the form of oatmeal, or drink oat milk; either way, you'll get the same benefits. So think twice before having that nasi lemak or kaya toast for breakfast, and opt for a healthier bowl of oats instead.


Dark, leafy greens like spinach can help the lactation process, by loading you up with calcium, iron, Vitamin A, K, and folic acid. Most important of all, spinach contains a fair amount of phytoestrogens, which may promote lactation and breast tissue health.3

Red and orange vegetables

The colour in these veggies comes from the presence of beta carotene, an important element for the production of breast milk. They also contain other useful nutrients such as iron. Your daily meals can stand to have a heavier portion of beta-carotene-rich foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, yam and beets.4


Whether you eat it in its herb form or as seeds, fennel offers considerable benefits to its lactating eaters. This is because it contains oestrogen-like elements which contribute to the production of breast milk.

You can make tea out of the seeds: just add one or two teaspoons of fennel to boiling water, then let it sit for a while (strain the seeds before you drink it). Or sprinkle some fennel seeds on your salads or in your cooking.

Fennel seed is also a popular ingredient in lactation cookies; why not bake your own if you have the time?


Barley is recommended by experts because it contains a high dose of beta-glucan, which increases prolactin in your body. Prolactin is the hormone that stimulates your breasts to produce milk, so it's absolutely essential.5 Make a barley drink to have with your meals, or add barley seeds to your bowl of oats.

Green papaya

A popular galactagogue especially in Asia, green papaya contains a long list of healthy elements, including vitamin C and vitamin A. Chop it up to eat with your salad, cereal, oats or yoghurt, or add it to noodles and soups. For beneficial effects on your lactation, you should eat this fruit when it's green, not after it ripens and changes colour.6

If you find it too challenging to eat, boil the green papaya a little until it softens to your liking. It can also be cooked in soup with fish, a common dish among Chinese mums in Singapore during the confinement period.

Red dates

Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends that new mums consume red dates to help their body produce more breast milk.7 You can chew on these dates, or make tea from them. There’s some science behind the claims: red dates are rich in prolactin, which, in turn tells your body to produce more breast milk.8


Your body needs to be well hydrated, so that it can produce more breast milk. Also, many breastfeeding mums say that they're thirstier than usual, so you'll need to drink more fluids while breastfeeding. And what better way to achieve this than by drinking water?

Sure, you can consume a lot of healthy teas, soups and drinks such as barley, but nothing beats the benefits of water! Try to drink eight glasses of water a day and don't forget to limit your consumption of tea, coffee, sweetened drinks and alcohol while you’re lactating.

For more tips, visit our Facebook page to chat with our friendly Club Illume consultants.


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