got milk? Foods from Chinese Medicine to Promote Lactation

I’ve been tinkering with some Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques lately.  My husband has come home to things like black fungus soup and sesame tea, and even stranger things have shown up in his stir fry – all so I can see what it does to us when we eat it.  A major part of Chinese Medicine is food that cures and heals.  When you’re nursing or pregnant, you have to watch those medications.  But if it’s healthy food used to heal you, it’s no worries, mate!

If your problem is lactation, Traditional Chinese Medicine has that one covered.  I decided to write about this after an experience I had last week.  I’ve been nursing our son for 8 months now, and I never feel the need to pump if hours have not gone by without a feeding.  But last week in the middle of the day, my son eating regularly, I needed to pump.  If you nurse, you know that’s a little weird.  What the heck did I eat?

As I said we’ve been eating some different things lately.  So naturally, I knew in my case, it had to be something I’d eaten in the last 24 hours.  I looked up the foods in a book I’ve been devouring, Chinese Natural Cures by Henry C. Lu, PhD. I narrowed it down.  For me, it had been the tofu.  But I learned a lot more about foods for lactation in the process.

Normally, a woman’s lactation will be up and running three or four days after she gives birth.  But if it isn’t, Dr. Lu suggests (in another book, Traditional Chinese Medicine) several foods that can help.  He explains that there are two different types of lactation problems.  In the first case, a woman may experience little or no milk secretion or clear, diluted milk.  This woman would have no swelling or pain in the breasts, pale complexion, poor appetite, and fatigue.  For her, some foods recommended would be: beef, chicken, lettuce, peanuts, red date, and tofu.

If a woman is experiencing a total absence of milk or only a little bit, swelling and painful breasts or hardness, and if she has concentrated and sticky milk, Dr. Lu suggests different foods, including: beef, button mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and sweet rice.

Of course you don’t have to have those issues to reap the benefits of these milk-producing foods.  As I stated earlier, tofu really did it for me.  I had it in stir fry and some soup.  (If you’re not into tofu, try scrambling some eggs and then adding tofu cubes at the end.  Fry it all just until the tofu is warmed through.  You’ll hardly notice it’s in there.)  If one of the items doesn’t seem to work for you, try another one, or combine them.  Imagine a beef stir fry with peanuts and tofu.  That would have to be good!

On the technical side of things, if you want to listen to some great advice online on breastfeeding, I’ve found a wonderful podcast called Mommy’s Milk and More.   It’s a font of information on nursing, pregnancy, and newborns.  (You can find lots of podcasts in the “Podcasts Perfect for Mommies” section in my sidebar.)  The also have another podcast called “Pregtastic,” geared towards pregnancy topics.

If you’ve found something that really helps you out, write a comment here or email me at themommyspot(at)   I’d love to hear about it! I have readers around the globe, so I’m sure the variety of remedies would be very interesting to us all.

3 thoughts on “got milk? Foods from Chinese Medicine to Promote Lactation

  1. Hi! This is Jo – my husband works with your hubby! I’ve just started reading your blog and this post caught my eye…
    Perhaps you’ve already done a previous post about Fenugreek – but I used this Herb, you can take in tablet form, when I experienced a lull in my milk production. Around 6 months – but daughter was so distracted while nusing – I think my supply went down. Even though I pumped – the Fenugreek really helped my production. Besides the side effect of smelling like maple surup – this was great for me. another thing I did was drink 1/2 glass of a hearty stout german beer once in the evening to give myself a boost. Once my daughter’s vigor for nursing returend – I discontinued the use of these products, and happily nursed her til’ 13 months!

  2. Joe, you are absolutely correct, it shows that you’re an authority on the subject. I admire someone that takes the pride you have and with your projecton of information. oSo when i actually do sit down to read material, I appreciate well written and organized blogs like this one. I have it bookmarked and will be back. Thanks.

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