Lana Farson, M.S., L.Ac., Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist

Foods to Promote Breast Milk & Nursing

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Here is a general list of foods that are traditionally used to promote breast milk.  Many of these are energetically warming and may not be appropriate for all individuals.  Please inquire about which ones would be best for you.

  • Fennel
  • Fish
  • Millet
  • Egg
  • Beef
  • Dates
  • Chicken
  • Oxtail Soup
  • Pig’s Feet Soup w/ star anise
  • Chinese gouji berries (wolf berries)
  • Black Sesame Seeds
  • Carrot
  • Soybeans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peanuts
  • Alfalfa leaf
  • Fenugreek
  • Aduki beans
  • Aduki juice: Cook 1 cup beans in 5 cups water for 1 hour. Collect juice, drink ½ cup 1-2 x/day for 3-5 days.

Drinking mint tea while nursing is generally not helpful and can even reduce the amount of breast milk.  Another herb that is stronger for stopping lactation during weaning time is ‘Mai Ya’ sprouted barley.

Here are ingredients for making a traditional Asian soup to promote breast milk and strengthen the energy after delivery:

  • 1 black chicken (Wu Ji Bai Feng) or regular chicken (organic-remove skin
    if possible)
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 3 pieces green onion
  • 10pieces red dates (Hong Zao)
  • 1/4 lb. red peanuts (3/4 cup)

5 Comments

  1. Abi says:

    Lana- what are your thoughts on prolonged use of fenugreek? I’ve been using it for four months now (I can pump enough at this point for three out of the five feedings my four-month-old twins get each day). Is it necessary to continue using it once a routine is established?

    • Lana says:

      Oh yes, Fenugreek. I’ll add that to the list. 6 out of 10 feedings sounds good. Congrats on that. In terms of long term use, many women can continue without problem. Any issues of overuse would probably come to your attention by way of signs and symptoms that we call ‘yin deficiency fire’ or ‘damp-heat’. (examples: hot flashes, nightsweats, sticky yellow mucus, smelly diarrhea, belly bloating and pain, thick yellow tongue coating).

      I think that because you have twins, it might be helpful to add some foods or herbs for tonification / strengthening to secure the milk and give you stamina. Before I explain further, can you verify with me that there are no excessive heat signs? (I know it can be hard to tell in the hot part of the summer!)

      • Abi says:

        Lana — thanks for the reply! I have been pretty hot in the evenings, but I do live in Southern CA in a very hot valley.

        I actually stopped taking the fenugreek not long after I commented — my bottle ran out and I decided not to continue as I have started to wean off of the pump. My goal is to make it to six months with them getting some breastmilk everyday. I’m down to two pumpings a day, and in a week or two I’ll wean down to one. They’ll be six months on 10/8, at which point I will switch to just formula. (Frankly, I’m amazed I lasted this long!)

        I wouldn’t mind suggestions for stamina, though. I have been avoiding coffee, for obvious reasons, and would love to not be dragging my feet midway through the day!

        THANKS!!

      • Abi says:

        By the way, that soup sounds good even without the intent to promote breast milk!

  2. Pui Yee Law says:

    Why mint tea is not good for nursing? is it too cold for nursing mom? how about other green tea?

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