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nourishment for the breastfeeding mother

Nourishment in the Postpartum

Helpful Herbs

natural remedies for milk supply


Recommended intakes

Toxins to Avoid





"The postpartum is a time of transition for a woman and her new family, when adjustments need to be made on a physical, psychological, and social levels."




~ Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, McMaster University, Hamilton

Healthy eating during lactation can help optimize:

  • your baby’s healthy growth and development

  • your vitamins, minerals and nutrients intake


In general the guidelines for eating when breastfeeding is the same as eating for pregnancy.


Below I have outlined some key differences and aspects that require consideration.


I urge you to eat well as an act of self-care for you and your baby, rather than a way to "get your body back".


Eating nutrient dense foods rebuilds your strength and increases the nutrient value of your breastmilk.



There are anecdotal reports that suggest that herbs can increase breastmilk production, however the corresponding clinical studies are limited. If you choose to supplement with any of the herbs below, please discuss with your pharmacist or family practitioner to confirm medication interactions.



Please see the herbs below that are commonly used in practice to stimulate milk production.


You can book Private Lactation Consultations with us if you're looking for a breastfeeding assessment, individualized breastfeeding plan, or more information on herbal usage guidelines. 







There are limited clinical studies examining its efficacy in increasing breastmilk production.


A small trial suggests benefits of an herbal tea containing fenugreek for enhancing breastmilk production and facilitating infant birth weight regain in the early postnatal period. Side-effects of fenugreek are rare but may include diarrhea and there is potential for anaphylaxis with ragweed and related plants. 


(extract from blessed thistle)
















Clinical research on its efficacy in stimulating milk production is inconclusive. Side- effects may include mild gastrointestinal discomfort and there is potential for anaphylaxis due to cross-allergy with ragweed and related plants.


Both Fenugreek and Silymarin (Blessed Thistle) are available in capsule form to take as a supplement. Dosage is unstandardized.


If you need to significantly increase your milk supply, most of the time the instructions of use stated on these bottles do not direct you to take enough for a real effect. We recommend seeing your midwife or booking an assessment with us to find out what is really going on and help guide you with a complete plan.  

These herbs ARE useful if you would like to include them in your diet or as a gentle aid to support your body. In this case, there are also herbal teas with a mixture of ingredients available, or breastmilk cookies made with these herbs. 




Vitamin and Mineral Requirements During Lactation Evidence Summary


  1. Continue taking your prenatal vitamin or a daily multivitamin containing folic acid to support the nutritional demands of lactation.

  2. At least 300 mg/day EPA+DHA during lactation, of which 200 mg/day is DHA (recommended by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). This intake can be achieved by consuming at least two fish servings/week (preferably fatty fish). Health Canada also suggests that women pay special attention to the types of fish they eat by choosing the types of fish that generally have low levels of contaminants, such as salmon, trout, herring, haddock, canned light tuna, pollock (Boston bluefish), sole, flounder, anchovy, char, hake, mullet, smelt, Atlantic mackerel and lake white fish.

  3. Minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D daily either in the prenatal/multivitamin or an additional supplement to ensure infant requirements are met.

  4. Recommendations for lactating women are to keep Trans Fatty Acid intake as low as possible.



A Few Notes on Caffeine and Alcohol




Evidence on the effects of maternal ingestion of caffeine on lactation is lacking and inconclusive.


However, a number of countries have released national guidelines for the consumption of caffeine during these periods that indicate moderate caffeine intakes are safe.


Guidelines range from a maximum of 200 mg caffeine/day in the United Kingdom to 300 mg caffeine/day in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.





Alcohol consumed by a mother passes into breastmilk.


No safe level of alcohol in breastmilk has been established.


If a woman chooses to consume alcohol, she should delay breastfeeding or expressing milk until the alcohol is completely cleared from her breastmilk - approximately two to three hours for each standard drink consumed. When adequate time has passed, there is no need to "pump and dump" before breastfeeding your baby, as if your blood alcohol level is zero, so should be the milk alcohol level. 


Women who wish to drink alcohol could also consider expressing milk in advance.




You cannot fully eliminate exposure to the toxins of modern day life, but you can significantly lessen it.




BPA & Phthalates


o Reheat leftover food in glass or ceramic containers rather than plastic

o Use a glass or stainless-steel water bottle rather than plastic





o Read labels on cosmetic and personal care products

o Search your products on the Environmental Working Group's free database of products for safe alternative

o Opt for preservative free products whenever possible





o Choose organically grown foods without the use of pesticides.


Please see the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.


This handout includes "The Dirty Dozen" which includes 12 produce items that were contaminated with more pesticides than other crops. These foods are the ideal candidates to invest in purchasing organic.


Whereas the "Clean Fifteen" is a list of produce that is minimally impacted by pesticides.

o Avoid the use of insect repellent



Non-stick pan related chemicals (PFC's)


o Avoid non-stick Teflon cookware – opt for cast iron, stainless steel, or ceramic cookware.






o Use fluoride-free toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental products






o Minimize use of aluminum foil

o Check ingredients in deodorants/antiperspirants, sunscreens, makeup, and facial scrubs





o Avoid eating fish high in mercury

o Avoid amalgam fillings and crowns

A Final Reminder:


No one is expected to navigate and take care of themselves on their own

- even if you are a power couple.

Reach out to family, friends, and your community. 

If you find yourself needing extra expertise: a customized nutrition plan for optimal healing, or an individualized feeding plan that works for you and your family, we are happy to serve you with our no-time-limit 

Private Consultations

nourishmen in th postpartum
helpful herbs
toxins to avoid
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