Gardening Health through gardening Vegetables

5 Easy-to-Grow Vegetables for Breast-feeding Mothers

Are you having trouble with lactation? Here are 5 vegetables you can eat to help with that. What’s the best part? You can grow them right at home!

By Danial Zack

Newborn babies receive most of their nutrients and antibodies (molecules that boost their immune system) from breast milk. It’s one of the reasons why many doctors will tell you to breast-feed your child for the first few months after birth.

Breast milk is crucial for the development of your child; it’s only natural for you to feel concerned about whether or not you’re producing enough milk with the right amount of nutrients.

No need to fret! This issue is easier to deal with than you think. Here are some easy-to-grow veggies that can help while you’re lactating.

Why Veggies When You Can Just Use Supplements?

That’s a good question: Indeed, why should you eat vegetables when you can just use lactation supplements? To answer your question, veggies are just better in a lot of aspects, especially if you’re growing them in your own garden.

While it’s true that many top lactation products can certainly solve your problems a lot faster, you can’t neglect the additional benefits that come from eating vegetables. While lactation supplements work to boost your milk supply or to improve the taste of breast milk, they don’t necessarily increase the nutrients in your milk.

Eating the vegetables we’re about to mention can not only help with your overall supply of milk, but it will also greatly improve the nutritional quality. Furthermore, it will also help you maintain a healthy and balanced diet so that you can perform your mommy duties effectively.

5 Vegetables That Help with Lactation

We’ve been hearing it since we were kids—vegetables are the key to adopting healthy eating habits. However, most of us tend to ignore that fact and just resort to taking dietary supplements.

These supplements don’t often have side effects, and yet they aren’t that healthy either. It’s mostly because supplements often contain a number of active ingredients that can lead to liver damage, especially if you are dependent on them.

Therefore, the best way to improve your health and your milk is to switch to eating the appropriate greens. Without further ado, let’s learn more about the veggies in question and look at ways to grow them on your own balcony or in your backyard garden.

1.   Carrots

Woman's hands holding freshly harvested carrots.
Carrots: so easy to grow, so rich in vitamins! Photo: Valentin Jukov, depositphotos

Night blindness is a common problem that occurs in kids who don’t get enough vitamin A while growing up. Luckily, carrots are a great supply of vitamin A and its precursor, beta carotene. These will help increase milk volume and also supply your baby with a good amount of vitamin A.

Growing Carrots at Home

  1. It’s best to plant your carrots in early spring to ensure proper growth.
  2. Preparing the soil properly is also important for your carrots to grow properly. From your regular garden soil, remove any stones or roots so roots can grow straight. Then add some compost and maybe some fertilizer. Mix it in evenly.
  3. If you grow carrots in a pot, you’ll need a deep one. At least 18 inches (45 cm) deep … and 24 inches (60 cm) is even better!
  1. With carrots, all you need to do is sprinkle the tiny seeds finely on top of the soil without covering them.
  1. Then press them into the soil and water the entire surface after you’ve done so. Be sure to move seeds that are too close together before watering.
  1. A few weeks after germination, you’ll notice that many seedlings will be thriving, reaching up 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) in height. There will, however, be seedlings that are much smaller. Gently and carefully remove them to allow the stronger seedlings more room to grow.
  1. It will take about 75 to 90 days for your carrots to grow fully, depending on how mature you want them to be.

2.   Chickpeas

Chickpea plant with seed capsules.
Chickpeas can be consumed green (fresh) or after drying. Photo: Nikilev, depositphotos

Chickpeas aren’t classic vegetables in many areas. However, I included them in the list because they’re such a good source of galactagogues, the substances that promotes production of breast milk. They are very easy to grow at home as well.

Growing Chickpeas at Home

  1. Start sowing the seeds indoors about 4 weeks before the local last frost date, preferably in a biodegradable pot. Press the seed 1 inch (2 cm) deep into the soil.
  1. Plant two seeds per pot, as germination is irregular. If more than one plant comes up, cut off the weaker of the two.
  1. Water the soil regularly and make sure your pot is receiving a lot of sunlight.
  1. It takes about 2 to 3 weeks for the seeds to begin sprouting, after which you will just have to wait for the seedling to reach a height of 5 to 6 inches (12 to 15 cm).
  1. Try to move the seedlings outdoors a few weeks after the last frost, when both the soil and the air have warmed up. In the meantime, prepare the soil with a top-quality NPK fertilizer and compost.
  1. Dig a hole that’s deep enough to hold the entire pot. Then, place the seedling pot into the hole, pot and all, fill in around it with soil and water well. Do this with all your pots. There’s no need to disturb the roots. That’s the whole point of biodegradable pots. They’ll allow chickpea roots to expand outwards into the soil, well beyond the pot, without the damage usually caused by transplanting!
  1. Make sure your chickpea seedlings are in full sunlight and are watered regularly. It will take about 90 to 100 days for your seedlings to produce peas, so be patient, and care for your plants. 

3.   Collards

Collards in the garden.
Collards are a type of open-leaved cabbage. Photo: Wirestock, depositphotos

Collards are a good source of iron, folic acid, calcium, and antioxidants. In other words, they’re an excellent supply of the nutrients the body can use to produce milk.

Growing Collards at Home

  1. Sow collard seeds indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost or, in mild climates, directly outdoors for a fall or winter crop.
  2. Start by pressing the seed ¼ inch (5 mm) into the soil.
  3. You will need to leave quite a bit of space between each plant:about 24 inches (60 cm).
  1. The rest of the process is quite similar to transplanting chickpeas, with the exception of potting the seedlings pot and all.
  1. Make sure your plants receive lots of sunlight and that you always water thoroughly before they start to wilt.
  1. Depending on the variety of collard you are growing, it will take around 55 to 75 days for them to be ready for harvest. . . or simply harvest lower leaves as you need them.

4.   Kale

Close up curly kale.
Kale is increasingly popular and is considered one of the healthiest of vegetables. Photo: Gannusya, depositphotos

Kale and collards are similar in terms of nutrient content. However, kale will additionally supply you with magnesium, folic acid, and omega 3 fatty acids.

Magnesium helps with stress relief, which might otherwise hamper your milk production. Omega-3 fatty acids help boost your baby’s immunity, and folic acid helps with the making and repairing of your DNA. 

Growing Kale at Home

  1. Kale is usually sown outdoors, in loose, well-drained soil, but can also be started indoors.
  1. In the ground, leave 18 inches (45 cm) between rows. Make sure that the rows are even.
  1. Sow the seeds ¼ inch (5 mm) deep and cover them with soil. Water well so that the soil settles nicely over your seeds.
  1. You’ll need to water your seeds and seedlings regularly, making sure to keep the soil humid.
  1. Every six weeks, sprinkle in some compost. This will help the kale grow properly. Since you’ll be sowing the seeds directly into the garden, it will take about 50–75 days before the kale is ready for harvest.

5.   Avocados

Two avocado fruits on a stem.
Avocado fruits ready for harvest. Photo: viledevil, depositphotos

OK, I’ve exaggerated a bit here. You can’t reasonably expect to grow avocados from seed to fruit in less than 7 years. . . and 10 to 15 are more likely! You could well be breast-feeding your third or fourth baby by then!

Still, avocados are probably one of the best food choices for breast-feeding mothers. Besides being very healthy, they also go perfectly with so many other foods. They’re high in fiber, healthy fats, and potassium. Healthy fats are what we should be focused on when talking about the health benefits of avocados.

We all know that our bodies absorb nutrients from our diets, and that certain things help us do so more effectively. As it turns out, the healthy, monounsaturated fats in avocados greatly increase the amount of vitamin A, D, E, and K that’s absorbed by your baby. This in turn plays a huge role in the development of your child’s nervous system.

So, this is one vegetable (yes, cooks consider avocados a vegetable: ask and you’ll see!) you might want to buy from the grocery store rather than grow yourself.

Or Buy a Tree!

Dwarf grafted avocado in a pot in an office.
Buying an avocado already in fruit ensures that you have a mature plant. Photo: MooseProphet, reddit.com
Label for a dwarf grafted avocado

Dwarf grafted avocados can be grown in pots … but just barely! Photo: Dawsons Garden World

Or. . . buy a grafted dwarf avocado tree, already showing small fruits, from a local nursery and grow it on. You can do this either on your deck or balcony (in mild climates and/or during the summer in colder ones) or indoors. And once your tree starts to produce fruits, it will bear fruit every year if you give it proper growing conditions!

Remember, the avocado is a tree—even a dwarf one will likely be 6 feet (180 cm tall) and will need a big pot. Also, lots of sun and warmth. Keep your avocado tree well watered and fertilize in spring and summer. . . and just watch those fruits mature!

How to Start an Avocado From a Pit

If you start an avocado from a pit today, it might just start to flower in a decade. Most indoor avocados, though, never do bloom or produce fruit. Photo: NewAfrica, depositphotos

Of course, if you’re truly ambitious, you can start an avocado from a pit as a houseplant. But don’t expect it to bear fruit. Even if it did fruit, it would take a least a decade to do so. Instead, think of the avocado tree you produce as an interesting and thought-provoking foliage plant.

To learn about growing an avocado from a pit, read Growing Your Own Avocado Tree Indoors.

Conclusion

Breast-feeding can be quite stressful, especially if it’s your first time. This is why it’s important for you to maintain your health and your best eating habits. Therefore, vegetables are great, especially when home grown. They can be extremely delicious if you find good recipes and proteins to go along with them. I hope that this guide proves to be useful to you. Take care and good luck!

About the Author

Danial Zack is a long-term writer and blog contributor. He enjoys life to the fullest and tries to put his experiences into words. He has a son and a daughter who help him with his content research.

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

0 comments on “5 Easy-to-Grow Vegetables for Breast-feeding Mothers

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the Laidback Gardener blog and receive articles in your inbox every morning!

%d bloggers like this: