This post probably contains affiliate links, to items I am in love with, and I am confident you will too!
Breastfeeding has been a part of my life for years now. I’ve researched everything on keeping milk supply high, full of fat and nutrient dense. I am still breastfeeding my toddler, which I will write on soon because I didn’t breastfeed my other two boys into toddler hood. Improving the quality of your breast milk is just as important as your supply, which is sometimes overlooked because new moms are more concerned about the amount they are pumping or feeding.
What took me some time to learn was the fat content in breast milk. I wrote a post on the keto diet and breastfeeding to help guide mamas interested in losing the baby weight with the keto diet, and in that post you can read more about the fat content. Before you work on increasing the fat content and nutrients in your milk supply, you want to have a base line of where your fat content is.
First, your milk is going to be fattier at different times of the day. The times of the day your breasts seem to be fuller are actually when there is going to be more water in your breast. The foremilk is what comes out first, which has a wattery consistency to hydrate the baby. The hind milk comes after the breast is emptied, and that is the fat to satiate the baby. Here are the steps to increase the fat and nutrients in your breast milk for baby.
Start With Extra Pumping:
I say this because you may not need to worry about the quality of your milk, but change your feeding style. As mentioned above, the higher fat content is in the emptier breast. You can give your baby more hind milk by pumping prior to feeding. Pump out the thinner milk, or foremilk and save it, then have your baby nurse for the hind milk. Doing this a few times a day can help your baby get more fat in their bodies, which may be all you need to do. My sister had amazing luck with this manual pump, and I like this automatic pump. Make sure to get a pumping bra for the automatic one, so you can be hands free and multi-tasking.
Protein is Essential:
Protein is so very important for breastfeeding. I talk more about my favorite protein powder in another post. I love how clean, natural, and full of milk-increasing nutrients it is. This powder will give you tons of nutrients in addition to protein to help pass that to baby. I have a hard time eating a lot of meat because I just don’t like it, so protein shakes are a super yummy way for me to eat more. Adding protein and nutrients gives your body what it needs to produce proper breast milk. I find that a powder is super helpful to do this.
This has been show to directly increase fatty acids in breast milk. It is also used to help with clogged milk ducts because it makes the breast milk slippery and less likely to clog. That means it is higher in fat. In this study, the Sunflower Lecithin stopped the decrease of fat loss in breastfeeding moms. Why they say it in a double negative for the study I have no clue, but it is proving that the Sunflower Lecithin brings fat content up. You can also read this personal story of Sunflower Lecithin increasing fat content in breast milk. This mom used these soft gels and had great success.
Eat Low Carb and Higher Fat:
Switching your diet to a more low carb/ high fat style can help increase the energy/calories and fat in your breast milk. You can read more about the keto diet and breast feeding in this post. The research seems to point out that it is difficult to conclude that a low carb and high fat diet really increases fat content in breast milk. One 2009 study reported that moms on a low carb diet had Infants’ with an energy intake (kcal/day) that was higher during the LCHF diet than during the HCLF diet. The estimated average maternal energy expenditure and the sum of maternal energy expenditure plus milk energy content were higher during the LCHF diet than during the HCLF diet (source). It is definitely worth a try. The idea is that the higher amount of fat in the mother’s body will translate into the breast milk.
Don’t Eat Just Any Fat:
Research has shown that the types of fats you eat will be present in your breast milk. A study published in 2002 in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition” demonstrated that the breast milk of Spanish mothers was lower in saturated fat and higher in monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, which reflects the traditional Mediterranean diet of Spain. So, you want to eat the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids that are super important to brain development. These are the fats found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and fish. If you can’t get the amount of fat to increase, you can ensure that the right fats are present.
There you have 5 ways you can increase the fat and nutrients of your breast milk. You can control the types of fats in your milk, which is also considered nutrients, as well as encourage the fat content to increase for your growing baby.