One of the most prevalent thoughts that a breastfeeding mother of a newborn has throughout the day is whether they are providing adequate nutrition for their infant. New mom’s will undoubtedly receive a lot of advice on nursing and proper feeding regimens, but when you can’t measure the amount of milk being produced very easily, it can be hard to know if your milk supply is adequate.
One of the most frequent methods mentioned between mothers is the old wives’ tale of eating more oatmeal. But does eating oatmeal really increase your milk supply?
While doctors are quick to mention there is no scientific evidence that oatmeal will help in this regard, many women swear by this method and at the very least, oatmeal is a much healthier alternative to cold, sugary cereal in the morning.
Table of Contents
Holistic practitioners, lactation consultants, and traditional wisdom have recommended eating oatmeal to increase breast milk supply. While there is no undeniable proof that oatmeal is directly linked to milk production, the method has worked for many women who have tried it consistently.
Oatmeal is high in iron, which makes the hot cereal a great food choice for mothers who are anemic or have low iron levels which is common postpartum. Maternal anemia has been linked to a decreased milk supply so it would only make sense that if you eat more oatmeal, or other high iron foods, that your milk supply will be steady or increasing.
Eating warm foods, like oatmeal, can also be comforting for people. New mothers are under an extreme amount of stress, especially in the first few weeks postpartum. Activities, including eating, that can help a mom to relax has a positive effect on milk production.
The more relaxed you are, the more efficient your let down reflex is. The more you can empty your breasts through pumping or feeding, the more your body will react and increase your production levels.
Oatmeal contains oat bran, the ingredient that is most efficient at reducing cholesterol. Many herbs used for increasing milk production are also active ingredients in holistic remedies for high cholesterol.
How to Incorporate Oatmeal into my Diet
If you don’t like oatmeal, or just can’t imagine eating the same breakfast every day, there are many ways to incorporate oatmeal into your diet that are not boring or time consuming. There is no specific type of oatmeal that is better than another as far as flavor goes, but choosing one that is high in iron is a great start if you are wanting to increase your milk supply.
The recommended allotment of oatmeal is one bowl a day, but oatmeal has no adverse side effects so eating more or less is completely up to you. Those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease should be wary of their oatmeal consumption and choose a gluten free variety or discuss this method with their health care team.
Hot cereal is not the only way to enjoy oatmeal either. Many women have proclaimed that eating oatmeal cookies, bars, oat bran bread, and other foods made from oats have had positive results in increasing their milk supply.
I am a fan of adding a cup of oatmeal to a fruit smoothie, and was doing this long before I fell pregnant. This is great for a quick and easy breakfast! This was a habit that I continued while breastfeeding because I just didn’t have the time to cook, and eat a warm bowl of porridge. I would either burn it on the stove, or would have to eat it cold… alongside my cold coffee.
So much for relaxing!
Lactation Oatmeal Recipe
If you have the time, inclination, or a super helpful husband who enjoys to cook you can check out Quaker Oats website for oatmeal recipes. There are a few gluten free options in there too!
Keeping oatmeal on hand will also be beneficial for when your infant is old enough to start on solids. If you are feeding them the same thing then this whole process becomes easier. Oatmeal is one of the easiest solids for babies to digest so will no doubt be near the top of the list for foods to try out.
If you are after a specialist recipe then the following will do the trick (Source: The Cocina Monologues)
- ½ cup old-fashioned oats
- 2 teaspoons ground flax seed
- ½ teaspoon brewers yeast
- pinch of salt
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (to your taste)
- 1 cup water
- 0 to 4 Tablespoons of milk (to your desired consistency)
- 1-2 teaspoons of honey (or any sweetener you like)
Optional add ins:
- dried fruit, such as cranberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots, apples, bananas
- fresh fruit
Add oats, flax seed, salt, cinnamon, and dried fruit (or your pre-packaged packet) to a microwave safe bowl. Add brewer’s yeast and 1 cup of water and stir. Microwave on high for three minutes. For best results, stir every minute for more even cooking and a creamier consistency. Stir in honey, nuts, and milk until you reach your desired consistency.
Would Instant Oatmeal Have the Same Benefits?
Anecdotal evidence would suggest that Mom’s who have consumed instant oats have experienced the same benefits. Keep in mind that this is not based on any scientific proof, only the collective wisdom of mothers and medical professionals.
Something which is a bit more factual is that instant oats contain less nutrition than steel cut or rolled oats varieties. The additional processing means preservatives are often added in, and you will find lower levels of fibre, and higher sugar in the instant variety.
The difference is not overly significant though, and if you only have time for instant then go for it! It is still a healthy option.
Alternative Proven Methods to Increase Milk Supply
If you do not believe in the old wives tale, and you just don’t like oats then luckily there are plenty of alternatives that are known to actually work.
We detail a range of natural remedies and strategies for you to increase your supply in our post here.
Whether there is a direct, or indirect link between oatmeal and your milk supply you essentially have nothing to lose. It is a versatile food that can be consumed any number of ways that will suit your tastes and available time.
If you remain concerned that your supply is inadequate, then seek out advice from your doctor or lactation consultant. There are options available to you to make sure you are producing enough for your little one.
In the meantime, enjoy healthy and delicious oatmeal as a positive lifestyle change that will top up your iron levels, and possibly get that milk production flowing.