Nigerian Foods That Increase Breast Milk Supply
In Nigeria, traditional postpartum care has always been one of our age long customs; this celebrated activity is commonly called omugwo in Igbo, ojojo omo in Yoruba and wanka’n jegoin Hausa.
During this highly anticipated period, new mothers(especially first-timers) are usually encouraged to rest as they ease into their new roles as mothers. An important aspect of this role is child nourishment, new mothers are usually put through indigenous methods to improve milk production.
Believe it or not….
One method our African mothers rely largely on is regular suckling by the infant; the more a baby suckles at its mother’s breast, the more milk is produced. It would interest you to know that this is not just a superstition, it is a fact backed by science. Therefore, the best way to improve breast milk production is to keep on nursing your baby on demand. For mothers pumping exclusively a technique called power pumping is used. This is 3-4 intermittent pumping sessions for 10 minutes with breaks in between.
However, for some mothers, this is strategy is often insufficient as they often deal with pain while breastfeeding and struggle daily to produce enough milk for their babies.
If you’re like the typical mom who can’t bear the sound of their lovely baby’s cries of hunger, we’ve got you covered with this list of Nigerian foods that will help you increase the rate at which your breast produces milk.
List of Nigerian Foods That Boost Breast Milk Production
1. Fura de nunu ( Milk and Millet Gruel)
This is a common beverage originating from the Fulani people of West Africa. With Fura de nunu, you have a rich, delicious blend of fermented cow’s milk (nunu) and millet dough (fura).
In addition to refreshing you on a hot afternoon, Fura contains many essential nutrients which improve breast milk production.
It would interest you to know that Nunu is an excellent source of protein, calcium, phosphorous and vitamins A, C, E and B complex. Fura is also known to contain essential amino acids, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and micronutrients. If taken regularly, this is a sure way to increase the production of very rich breast milk for your little one.
2. Kunu (A Northern Nigerian Gruel)
Another staple beverage that is quite popular in most parts of Nigeria, especially the north, is Kunu. Commonly made from millet, rice, sorghum, tiger nuts, guinea corn, maize, or a mixture of some or all of these, this locally made drink is just the right thing for you!
Furthermore, Kunu contains lactic acid, carbohydrates, proteins, and fat which are essential for normal body function. This drink would definitely leave you feeling nourished.
In addition, you get more breast milk to nourish your baby.
Popularly known as Akamu, Ogi, Eko or its fancier name, African Corn Porridge, this is a fermented pudding cereal made from millet, maize or sorghum. It is a ready-to-eat food packed with numerous essential nutrients like carbohydrate, B vitamins, folic acid, vitamins A and C, potassium, zinc and others.
Considering its highly nutritious content, it is no wonder why so many of our mothers swear by this meal to help increase breast milk production. Please note that Pap is best taken with milk and sugar to give you a satisfying experience.
This nutrient packed plant is a great source of vitamins and minerals, nursing mothers would get more out of these than most other vegetables. It is a multi-purpose herbal plant, that is, all parts of this plant can be used as it contains varying amounts of essential amino acids, anitoxidants, carotenoids and many other nutrients.
Research has proven that infusing this plant into your meals is an effective means of improving your mother’s milk production. Moringa leaves can be added to soups, salads, or simply taken in juice form.
Eating carrots is a great way to boost lactation as they contain vitamin A and potassium, both of which help to improve the quality and quantity of breast milk.
As a plus, they’re a great way to lose that stubborn baby fat. They can be snacked on, juiced or eaten raw in the form of salads. Carrots are available everywhere and may just be the boost your mammary glands need.
6. Kaun (Pot-ash/ Keun / Akanwu)
Potash is a general name given to potassium containing compounds. Kaun, a lake- salt, is an ancient Nigerian food additive used in traditional cooking that has been known to add flavour and improve the taste of a dish. It’s a form of potash. Other sources are from palm kernel shells and dried, roasted unripe plantain peels.
Most women do not know that kaun is also helpful when nursing babies. Its high mineral content can serve a great stimulant for lactation. Potash should be taken in moderation in its cooked form. Excessive amounts (more than a teaspoon daily) can cause upset tummy. It can cause uterne contrations and thus must be avoided in pregnancy,
Sweet and juicy watermelons are another great addition to this list of lactogenic foods. This fruit is rich in fiber, fructose and a variety of minerals and vitamins. Additionally, its remarkably high water content would keep you hydrated, get your milk flowing and keep your baby full.
You can slice, dice or even blend this it in addition to other fruits to make a delicious smoothie. In addition, watermelons can be grilled.
8. Ofada Rice
Known globally as brown rice, locally grown Ofada /Abakaliki Rice is an effective addition to your diet as a nursing mother because it contains a variety nutrients like minerals, vitamin B and E. It also contains hormonal stimulants that help to improve lactation and increase breast milk production.
If you’re also planning to lose that persistent baby fat, you should definitely switch white rice for a well prepared bowl of ofada rice and sauce.
Garlic is popular for improving the immune system but do you know that it can also help improve breast milk production? Commonly used as a seasoning or spice in traditional cooking, garlic has a rich supply of enzymes, vitamins and minerals that help improve milk production.
But remember to go easy on this one, it’s notorious for causing body odours, especially when taken in large quantities.
Breast milk is essentially made up of water. Therefore, staying hydrated is crucial to breast milk production. And what better way to stay hydrated than to drink lots of water?
A minimum of 8 glasses per day is the target! Remember, the goal is not only to increase the quantity of breast milk you produce, but also to improve its quality.
Yeah…we know we said 10 but there’s more……
- Ewe bombo (awalagbo in Yoruba)
- Uda and other herbs used to make pepper soup for pregnant women
- Tiger nuts and dates
- Ginger ( preferably freshly grated in warm water)
- Fenugreek (It’s called “hulba” grown in Northern Nigeria ladies!)
Finally, an overall healthy diet is key, not only to help nourish your newborn, but also to nourish you.