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.
One method our African mothers rely largely on is regular suckling by the infant; the more a baby suckles at it’s 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 struggle daily to produce enough milk for their babies.
If you’re one of these mothers who cannot bear to hear the sound of your lovely baby’s cries of hunger, here are 10 Nigerian food that are known to increase 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); this drink is not only exceptionally refreshing on a hot afternoon, it is also heavily packed with essential nutrients that are beneficial to breastfeeding mothers.
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!
Kunu is packed with lots of nutrients like lactic acid, carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. 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)
This 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.
However, most women do not know that kaun is also helpful when nursing babies. Its high mineral content can serve a great stimulant for lactation.
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.
Watermelons can be sliced, juiced or combined with other fruits to make a delicious smoothie. Watermelons can also be grilled!
8. Ofada Rice
Known globally as brown rice, locally grown Ofada 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 has been known to help improve 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, so staying hydrated is compulsory to have a steady supply of milk. 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. In doing this, an overall healthy diet is key, not only to help nourish your newborn, but also to nourish you.