Foods and Drinks That Increase Milk Supply, According to Experts

By Published On: August 28th, 2023

We talked to dieticians, lactation consultants, nurses, and doulas about what lactating parents may want to add to their grocery list.

The whole process of breastfeeding is, well, a lot. But one thing that isn’t always excessive (or might not seem to be) is a lactating parent’s milk supply. This can be frustrating as you struggle to breastfeed or as you pump and pump and see little results, and you may start worrying that your baby isn’t getting enough to eat.

If your child is gaining weight appropriately and needs regular diaper changes, your breast milk supply is likely adequate, even if your babe is fussy or not feeding during an entire session, says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, a registered dietician-nutritionist in Charleston, South Carolina. (Of course, if you’re concerned, it’s always best to check with your child’s pediatrician.)

For nursing parents who are worried about their milk supply, the best way to increase it is by expressing breast milk frequently and consistently, explains Brooke Gilliam, BSN, RN, IBCLC, a nurse and lactation consultant, and member of the board of directors for the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.* “This can be done by means of latching the baby directly to the breast, use of a breast pump, or by hand,” she says.

If you have done this, and there are no other outstanding issues like a poor latch, tongue-tie, stress, or illness (even a cold can impact supply!), you can try turning to your pantry. Call it an old wives’ tale or ancient wisdom, but certain foods and herbs have been used for centuries to promote lactation.

What Foods Increase Breast Milk Supply?

Foods believed to increase breast milk supply go by the fancy name of galactagogues.  “Historically, almost every culture has its own galactagogues that they rely on to nourish new parents and support a healthy milk supply,” says Lilly Schott, RNC, MSN, IBCLC, a nurse and lactation consultant, and a coach for Ovia Health. Although the research is not definitive, and these foods may not impact everyone, many of those mealtime additives and supplements remain popular today.


We know it’s such a cliché, but water really is the diet MVP—and that includes your nursing diet. Whether it’s through flavored water, electrolyte drinks, water-filled fruits like watermelon, matcha, or tea (better caffeinated alternatives than chugging coffee), grab what keeps you hydrated! “ Anything to increase water intake for a nursing parent is helpful,” says Lizzy Swick, RDN, a registered dietician-nutritionist and founder of Lizzy Swick Nutrition. That said, overhydrating may decrease a lactating parent’s milk supply, Gilliam says. She says to avoid taking in too much fluid, “One should be encouraged to drink fluids, preferably water, whenever feeling thirsty.”.


Krystyn Parks, MS, RD, IBCLC, a pediatric dietician, lactation consultant, and owner of Feeding Made Easy, says oatmeal, a lactogenic food (food that promotes milk production), is one of her top recommendations to increase breast milk. “It’s cheap, and many people already include it in their diet.” Oats contain beta-glucan, she explains, a fiber that studies suggest may increase prolactin levels, which can help increase milk supply.


It’s among the most common herbs nursing parents use for cooking or making lactation tea, but it comes with several disclaimers. “I don’t recommend fenugreek in large quantities due to mixed reviews from parents,” says Tori Hamilton, BScN, RN, IBCLC, PMH-C, founder of The Mama Nurse. “Some breastfeeding parents find that their milk supply decreases, rather than increases” with the addition of fenugreek. It can also cause diarrhea, trigger migraines, lower blood sugar, and interact with drugs, so it’s best to consult your doctor before implementing it into your diet—and if you do get the all-clear, be sure to start low.


Goat’s rue, dandelion, millet, seaweed, anise, basil, blessed thistle, fennel seeds, moringa leaf, Shatavari, torbangun, vervain, red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, and more have all been reported to increase milk supply. If you can’t find these ingredients at your local grocery store, you may want to try a specialty healthcare store or online retailer. Once you find them, some of these herbs can be thrown into smoothies or veggie-rich soups and stews, so find what works for you. Also, keep in mind that these recommendations are largely anecdotal rather than scientifically backed, so don’t worry if you can’t find ways to sneak dandelion and seaweed into your regular diet.

Brewer’s yeast

It may sound counterintuitive since breastfeeding parents are encouraged to limit alcohol consumption, but brewer’s yeast can be used in cooking and is considered a galactagogue.

Lactation cookies

A bit of a one-stop-shop, these treats, which can be homemade or store-bought, often contain a mix of galactagogues and may help stimulate breast milk production.

Starbucks’ Pink Drink

You may have heard that some lactating parents (one of our editors included!) swear by the Starbucks Pink Drink to help counter a low milk supply. This may be because of the coconut milk used to make it, and coconut and coconut milk are believed to be galactagogue. Even if it sounds more trendy than true, there’s no harm in giving it a try.

Whether or not you stock up on galactagogues to increase your breast milk supply, know that how much you eat is just as important as what you eat. “Ongoing energy needs in the next phases of feeding are high, so eating enough is priority number one,” Schott says. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that breastfeeding parents eat an additional 330–400 calories a day compared to what they ate before pregnancy.

And again, remember that consuming galactogenic foods alone will not increase milk production without ensuring frequent, consistent, and adequate drainage of milk from the breasts, Gilliam stresses.

What Foods Make Breast Milk Nutrient-Dense?

When a lactating parent eats nutrient-rich foods, their body can heal and function at its best, which is always good for breastfeeding. Even though galactagogues are still up for debate, Schott says we do know of foods that “definitely support breastfeeding, recovery, and healthy milk supply.”

Plus, the levels of certain nutrients found in breast milk are known to be affected by the nursing parent’s diet. “In other words, if the parent isn’t eating enough of these nutrients, the breast milk may be slightly low in these nutrients,” Manaker says.

Do your best to incorporate sources of vitamins A, C, B6, and B12, omega 3s, iodine, choline, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, prebiotics, and other key nutrients. We know it’s a lot to keep track of, but you can start by working these recommendations into a diverse and varied diet:


This superfood (or another dark leafy green of choice) is a good source of plant-based iron. “After pregnancy, many birthing parents find their iron stores depleted,” Parks says. Pairing it with a source of vitamin C can help the body more fully absorb the iron.


Oranges are probably the first source of vitamin C you think of, but Swick says all fruits, especially kiwi and strawberries, are also good options.

Whole foods

Beth Ann Martin, MPH, CLC, DONA, a birth and postpartum doula, lactation consultant, and owner of Beth Ann Doula Services, suggests reaching for whole foods like eggs, nuts, whole grains, avocados, and dates when possible. “They are wonderful for supply and postpartum healing,” she says.


After delivery, most people can benefit from continuing with a prenatal vitamin or switching to a postnatal one (but always check with your doctor). “This is because it is so hard to tick every single [vitamin] box” with diet alone, Schott says.

What Foods Should Be Avoided While Breastfeeding?

For the most part, the less food restriction, the better when it comes to breastfeeding. “Generally speaking, breastfeeding parents can consume most foods,” says Chrisie Rosenthal, IBCLC, a lactation consultant and owner of The Land of Milk and Mommy. However, talk to a pediatric care provider if there are foods you worry about incorporating into your diet while breastfeeding. “If you have a history of food allergies in your immediate family, speak to your pediatrician for guidance when it comes to introducing that food,” Rosenthal adds.

It also isn’t wrong to reach for snacks or to listen to your taste buds if any of these foods aren’t your thing. “You do not need a perfect diet to make excellent and nutritious milk,” Schott says.

And as you consider foods that increase breast milk production, Swick encourages you to listen to your intuition.

“Nursing parents should feel empowered that if their body just created a human, it can certainly send them cues on what, when, and how much to eat,” she says. “It’s only when a parent feels pressured to bounce back [to their pre-pregnancy weight] that the signals on nourishment get staticky and may cause them not to trust their hunger and satiety cues.”

She also says nursing parents shouldn’t cut out all carbs and that there should be no intermittent fasting or restriction “of any kind” while breastfeeding.

“Don’t make this a time of many rules and nutrition dogma,” she says. “If the nursing parent has struggled with disordered eating, or if they are feeling burdened by the pressure to fit into pre-pregnancy clothes, they should talk to a dietitian or therapist if it’s getting in the way of properly eating the food necessary for this nutrient-intensive time.”

*Information shared by Gilliam is provided entirely independently and is not a reflection of the IBCLC examination.