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10 Breastfeeding Supplements Every Mother Should Take

Increase and maintain a great breast milk supply with the support of breastfeeding supplements.

Establishing a great breast milk supply in the first six weeks postpartum is essential to breastfeeding success, and there are some really amazing breastfeeding supplements that every mother should take to ensure optimal health. But not all supplements come in capsule form.

"The belief is that as long as moms get enough calories, regardless of where they come from that their milk quality will be sufficient," says Vanessa Case, a registered holistic nutritionist at Our Natural Connection. However, it's not just about calories. What you eat is important. "Diet has an influence on breast milk nutritional status and quality," Case emphasizes.

Breastfeeding supplements don't need to come from a prescription. Here are 10 ways to supplement your diet and boost your breast milk supply.

Supplements From a Bottle

  1. Placenta Encapsulation
    "By upping the amount of progesterone in your bloodstream," says Kristine Adams Cowan, a certified birth doula and placenta encapsulation specialist, "it is possible to increase your milk supply through encapsulation. The other benefits of encapsulation -- increased iron levels, mood and hormone stabilization and increased feeling of well being -- may also allow your body to transition to breastfeeding smoothly.

    I start moms out at three capsules, three times per day. But this is based on how they are feeling, if they are having difficulties with milk, how they are sleeping."
  2. Whole Food Multivitamin
    If your diet is less than balanced, a whole food multivitamin like this one from Sundown Naturals can ensure that you get what your body needs without having to worry that you're missing something by diet alone. Take as directed on the bottle.
  3. Probiotics
    Considered to be good bacteria, probiotics aid digestion in both mom and baby. Healthy gut flora is essential to good health overall. You can find probiotic capsules at your local pharmacy, and take them as directed on the package.
  4. Cod Liver Oil
    Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, cod liver oil has been known to benefit both breastfeeding mothers and infants. Omega-3 fatty acids aid in brain development, and vitamin D is essential to the way our bodies treat calcium. While omega-3 is found in other supplements, the highest concentration and most beneficial form is found in cod liver oil. Take as directed on the bottle.

Supplements From Food

  1. Oatmeal
    High in fiber, a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon, flax seed, walnuts and dried berries is an excellent start to the day for breastfeeding mothers. A great source of iron, which is often depleted in breastfeeding women, oatmeal is a hearty and comforting breakfast that is simple and healthy. One bowl of oatmeal per day will help establish a strong milk supply.
  2. Protein
    This is needed for growth and development, as well as fueling your body for the difficult task of breastfeeding. "Whole-food sources are best, such as grass-fed animal protein, hemp seeds, nuts and seeds, beans, legumes, lentils," says Case. The easiest way to ensure that you are getting enough protein in your diet is to have a protein- and carbohydrate-rich snack at every nursing session.
  3. Beetroot
    This nutritious vegetable can help keep hemoglobin levels stable as well as replenish important mineral stores. You can prepare beets by thinly slicing them and baking them into chips, or simply juicing them with other fruits and vegetables. Adding this vegetable to your diet once a week is sufficient.
  4. Spinach
    Iron stores can be incredibly low during pregnancy, and spinach can easily combat that. Add spinach to your diet by juicing, tossing fresh or frozen chopped spinach into a smoothie or enjoying a spinach salad once or twice a week.
  5. Fennel
    A main ingredient in many breast milk teas and tinctures, fennel also has estrogen-like properties which can increase breast milk supply. While it does enter your breast milk, it is considered safe for both you and baby. You can add fennel to your salads and sandwiches, juice it along with carrots, apples and berries or steep it in a tea with other herbs to promote lactation, such as this tea from Traditional Medicinals. Add fennel to your diet once or twice a week.
  6. Hydration
    Staying adequately hydrated while breastfeeding is incredibly important. The easiest way to stay hydrated is to drink a full 16 ounces glass of water every time you are breastfeeding your baby, which should result in a daily fluid consumption of 96 ounces.

As always, seek advice from your doctor or local lactation consultant to ensure the supplement you choose is right for you.

If you are looking for help once your newborn arrives, consider finding a doula on Care.com.

Shannon Moyer-Szemenyei is a certified birth and postpartum doula, mother of two busy boys (Owen, 4 and Graeme, 9 months) and the writer at Sweet Stella's.

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