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Foods That Decrease Milk Supply & Factors

Table of Contents

Foods That Decrease Milk Supply

Table of Contents

A mother’s priority after giving birth to her baby is to ensure that the health and growth of the baby are going smoothly. Breastfeeding takes a lot of practice, time, and effort for both the mother and the baby and it is a very good time for them to bond. A mother’s breast milk contains nutrients, antibodies, and other essential components.

A mother breastfeeding her baby is transferring all the nutrients to her baby. Some foods that decrease milk supply when breastfeeding and there are different factors that decrease milk supply. Doctors recommend you avoid consuming foods that decrease milk supply because breast milk is very important for your baby. In this article below, we discuss, what are the factors that decrease breast milk supply? and what are the different foods that decrease breast milk supply?

Factors That Decrease Milk Supply

1. Stress

Stress can affect breastfeeding and high levels of stress in breastfeeding moms can lead to a difficult let-down reflex, and it can lead to a decrease in the mother’s breast milk supply. On the positive side, breastfeeding can help to lower the mothers’ stress.

2. Lack Of Sleep

Not getting enough rest and lack of sleep can affect your breast milk production. Mothers may need to ask someone else to take care of their baby for a few hours so that they can get enough sleep and ensure that their breast milk production is not affected.

3. Pregnancy

Pregnancy can lower your milk supply and sometimes the milk supply can be completely stopped. This is caused due to the various pregnancy hormones and during the first and second trimester of pregnancy, mothers may start to notice a decrease in breast milk supply, and eventually the breast milk production will be stopped.

4. Smoking

Smoking reduces the hormones and oxytocins which help breast milk to be released from the breasts. Smoking during pregnancy to avoid stress can affect the fetus and there is a very high chance of your baby being born with birth defects. Mothers who smoke are more likely to have a preterm delivery and one in every five babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy has low birth weight.


5. Medications

Taking certain medications can affect your breast milk supply. Medications taken for cold and sinus contain pseudoephedrine, an ingredient that can cause a low milk supply. Birth control pills can affect milk supply and hormonal birth control pills that contain estrogen are known to produce less milk. Moms need to consult a doctor before taking any birth control pills so that the amount of milk that is supplied is not reduced.

6. Low Water Consumption

Breast milk contains 88% of water and drinking less water decreases the mothers’ breast milk production. Drinking more water can increase your milk supply and is one of the best ways to avoid a decrease in breast milk supply. You can also consume coconut water.

7. Dieting/ Low Intake Of Food

Mothers who are eating less food will not be able to produce enough milk. Hence mothers need to consume plenty of food and water to ensure that there is a supply of enough breast milk for the baby.

8. Usage Of Certain Essential Oils

Women who use oils such as lemon balm oil, peppermint oil, oregano oil, and sage oil may not be able to produce enough breast milk. Thus breastfeeding moms need to avoid using these oils to ensure that the baby is getting enough breast milk.

9. Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol is often touted to increase the supply of breast milk production and it is false. Alcohol will cause a reflex in milk ejection, and consuming alcohol will not allow mothers to produce enough breast milk for the baby’s consumption. Not only can alcohol decrease your breast milk supply, but excess alcohol could affect your ability to tend to your child’s needs.

10. Caffeine Consumption

Consuming large amounts of caffeine such as soda, coffee tea, and chocolate could dehydrate your body and lower your production of breast milk. Drinking too much caffeine also can affect your breastfeeding baby.

11. Certain Dietary Factors

Diet is a very important factor that can affect your health and breast milk supply. Certain herbs hurt milk production while some foods can have a positive impact on breastfeeding. A breastfeeding mother must eat well and drink plenty of water to ensure that there is enough supply of breastmilk for her baby. A healthy diet and good hydration are also important for the overall health of both the mother and her baby.

Foods That Decrease Milk Supply When Breastfeeding

Foods that can decrease breast milk supply in mothers and certain foods reduce milk production, which will decrease milk supply. Below is the list of foods that decrease milk supply and milk production.

1. Chocolate

Many women crave to eat chocolate while breastfeeding, but if chocolate is being consumed as part of a sugar and caffeine cycle, it can increase stress hormones. Due to stress, a mother may not be able to produce enough breastmilk for her baby.

2. Cabbage

Cabbage has been used by many women to treat breast engorgement. Cabbage does not decrease milk supply, even if eaten multiple times in a day. However, the application of whole cabbage leaves or topical creams made from cabbage on your breasts can affect and decrease milk supply.

3. Coffee

Limited coffee intake is perfectly fine for breastfeeding mothers, but drinking large amounts of caffeine (more than 1 coffee per day) can cause your body to decrease breast milk supply. Consuming large amounts of caffeine will dehydrate you and since 88%of breast milk contains water, breastfeeding mothers may not be able to produce enough milk for the baby’s consumption. 1-2 cups of coffee per day is recommended if you’re a nursing mom.

4. Tea

Certain herbs that are used to make tea can affect milk production in breastfeeding mothers. Below is the list of herbs that should be avoided in tea by a breastfeeding mother.

  • Parsley Tea– Parsley tastes good and sipping on parsley tea is very refreshing and will not harm your breast milk supply if consumed in small amounts. However, drinking large amounts of parsley tea will decrease your breast milk supply.
  • Peppermint Tea- Drinking an occasional cup of peppermint tea will not affect your breast milk supply but consuming it in large quantities will decrease your breast milk supply.
  • Sage Tea – Sage tea is a common remedy for the overproduction of breast milk. But on the other hand, this also implies that drinking sage tea in huge quantities will affect your breast milk production and breast milk supply.
  • Green Tea- Green tea has a high caffeine content and if consumed in huge quantities, it will decrease the breast milk supply.

5. Chasteberry

Chasteberry is a dried fruit that women may eat without having any idea of its adverse effects on the breast milk supply process. This fruit is eaten by women for many reproduction-related problems. Breastfeeding mothers who have an issue related to the overproduction of milk are also usually advised to eat this dried fruit.

6. Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts contain sulfur. These vegetables could cause digestive discomfort and gas in your baby. If your baby stops drinking breast due to a bad taste or health issues such as gas, your breast milk supply will decrease.

7. Foods Containing Vitamin C And Vitamin B

Foods such as oranges and tomatoes are rich in citric acid and contain astringents which are known to cause a decrease in breast milk supply and also decrease blood supply to the breasts.

Herbs That Decrease Breast Milk Supply

Certain herbs used in food, are known to decrease breast milk supply. If herbs are used in small amounts in foods, there is no need to worry about a decrease in breast milk supply. But if herbs are used as natural remedies and hence in large proportions, it is recommended to consult a doctor before using herbs while breastfeeding. Below is the list of herbs that are known to reduce breast milk supply in women.

1. Peppermint

People take peppermint in different forms such as peppermint candies, peppermint tea, or direct ingestion of oil to treat fever, headaches, etc. but peppermint oil is well known to decrease breast milk supply in women. Eating peppermint candies in large amounts could show its effects on breastfeeding mothers.

The best part about peppermint is that it does not have long-lasting effects on breastfeeding. When breastfeeding mothers stop consuming peppermint oil, there are higher chances to help increase milk supply.

2. Parsley

Parsley is a diuretic drug and a very refreshing herb that a lot of people like taking after eating their meals. Due to its diuretic nature, parsley could cause frequent urination and could also cause dehydration. If a mother who is on lactation experiences dehydration after eating parsley, there are high chances that she could experience a decrease in breast milk supply.

3. Sage

Breastfeeding mothers who eat a little amount of sage may not see a decrease in breast milk supply but drinking sage tea will reduce milk supply. Sage could reduce breast milk even in mothers who have been breastfeeding for more than a year with a regulated milk supply.

Sage affects a breastfeeding mom more than peppermint and that is the reason why doctors recommend breastfeeding mothers who have an oversupply of breast milk to eat sage.

Other herbs that may cause a milk supply reduction in some mothers if consumed in large quantities include:

  • Cilantro
  • Spearmint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Lemon Balm

Closing Thoughts

It is common for a breastfeeding mother to notice that her breast milk supply is decreasing. A breastfeeding mother has to try and avoid consuming foods that decrease milk supply. It is important to talk to a lactation consultant on how to increase the breast milk supply. Sometimes a low milk supply could be caused by improper lactation which can cause difficulty for the baby to consume the right amount of milk from the breasts.

While a mom is trying to give plenty of milk to her baby, she also needs to find enough time to take care of her health and maintain a healthy diet to ensure that there is no decrease in breast milk supply.

Foods That Decrease Breast Milk Supply FAQs

1. What foods negatively affect breast milk ?

Fish high in mercury, dairy products, alcohol, citrus, and peanuts are known to affect breast milk.

2. Why has my milk supply suddenly decreased ?

Lack of sleep, a poor diet, stress, skipping nursing sessions, smoking, and birth control pills could be the reason why your breast milk supply has suddenly decreased.

3. Is dieting during lactation a good idea ?

Breastfeeding is not the right time to go on a dieting schedule, because babies need enough nutrients and vitamins which will be produced in the mother's breast milk.

4. How many calories do breastfeeding mothers require in a day ?

Breastfeeding mothers require around 2300- 2500 calories per day.

5. What are the foods that help increase breast milk supply ?

Foods such as fenugreek, oats, fennel seeds, ginger, lean meat, and poultry are known to help increase breast milk supply.

On behalf of the editorial team at Parenthoodbliss, we follow strict reporting guidelines and only use credible sources, along with peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and highly respected health organizations. To learn about how we maintain content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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