December 11, 2017
If you’re a new mom who has decided to breastfeed, you may feel a sense of empowerment but also a little overwhelmed as you may be wondering how your diet will NOW affect your breastmilk.
Naturally, a ton of questions may be running amuck in your mind because after all, you do want the best… and breast for the baby.
Questions like: What should I eat or drink to help boost my milk quantity and quality? How can I ensure my baby is getting the most out of my breastmilk? Are there particular foods I should avoid?
Well, you’ll be glad to know that you don’t have to do any major overhaul to your diet… maybe just to your daily sleep.
First and foremost, it’s your number one job to feed yourself; and feed yourself well and frequently.
Yes, we’re talking about quality as well as quantity. This is not the time to count calories nor the time to fill up on empty calories such as refined sugar and processed carbs. On average, as a nursing mom, you’ll expend an additional 500 calories a day just producing breast milk, so you’ll need to replenish those calories in order to keep your energy and stamina up, especially when meeting those demands of caring for a newborn.
Is that it? Is there anything I need to avoid while nursing?
The good news is that you can still enjoy all your favorite meals! There really isn’t any one thing you need to restrict from your diet.
How about alcohol, caffeine and sugar?
We really like to dissuade any diet from alcohol, caffeine and artificial sugar, especially when you are nursing since you’re trying to provide the best nutrition for your developing baby and also replenish vitamins and minerals in your own body. If you choose to have a drink, limit yourself to a glass of wine a day and do so after you’ve nursed your baby to give the alcohol time to pass through your bloodstream (about 2 to 3 hours per drink).
Caffeine is another thing that most new moms worry about while nursing. But when you’re exhausted, the first thing you want to reach for in the morning is a comforting hot cup of coffee. Here’s some good news — there’s no need to cut out caffeine completely. A cup or two a day of coffee or an occasional bar of chocolate won’t harm the baby, so go ahead and enjoy your dose of caffeine here and there. Some babies, however, can be sensitive to caffeine and can become fussy or lead them to not sleep well. If you sense your baby is getting affected by caffeine, you can always have your cup of coffee after you’ve nursed.
Refined sugar is another thing to avoid but you can still get your sweet tooth cravings from other sources such as fresh fruit, dark chocolate or using raw cane sugar and cao cao powder in your baking. Remember, moderation is the key.
What are the top 10 foods that I should eat to get the best quality and quantity of breastmilk?
Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, whole grains are always good to incorporate in your diet. Whole grains like oats, millet, quinoa, brown rice and barley provide important minerals and protein. Having a hearty bowl of oatmeal or sprinkling oats in your yogurt for breakfast will not only keep you full longer but also helps to lower cholesterol and aid in blood pressure regulation. Oats also is known to help increase your milk supply, so that’s an added bonus!
Garlic makes a dish so much more flavorful and has bountiful of health benefits. Plus it may make your breastmilk taste different, which could entice your little one to suckle more, which in turn can help you boost your milk supply.
Fresh carrots make a great snack and when you’re nursing, your body needs extra beta-carotene. In addition, carrots are an excellent source of healthy carbohydrates and potassium, so snack away!
Breastfeeding moms need two to three servings of protein a day. Good sources of protein include lean meat, poultry, seafood, egg, dairy products and beans.
Salmon is a great fatty fish and is relatively low in mercury levels. This fish is also loaded with an essential fatty acid, called DHA, which is crucial to the development of infants’ nervous system, eyes and brain.
Breast milk already contains DHA, but levels of it are higher in the milk of women who get more DHA from their diets. What a perfect nutritional powerhouse for mom and baby!
According to The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “it is recommended that breastfeeding women should limit how much salmon they eat. The guidelines recommend an average of 12 ounces, or the equivalent of two main servings, per week. The reason is to limit the amount mercury your new child is exposed to. [It] is recommended that nursing mothers not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish because of their high mercury content.”
Your own breastmilk is packed with calcium, which is what helps your baby’s bones develop. This means that your body will also need to replenish calcium to meet your own body’s needs. Incorporate milk, yogurt, sesame seeds and cheeses to your daily diet as these are excellent sources of calcium. If you’re on a vegan diet, almond, cashew and coconut milk all have plenty of, if not more, calcium than cow’s milk.
This is a great herb known to help boost milk supply and can also aid in digestion and settle upset bellies. Fennel brings a subtle anise-like flavor and crunch to any recipe. You can treat it much like you would celery. Add an extra kick to your dishes and chop or slice fennel in soups, vegetable stir-fries, pot roast and even lasagna!
Go nuts… if you haven’t already! Enjoying a handful of healthy nuts such as brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts can give your milk supply a boost, provide you healthy fats and plenty of antioxidants! Adding any of these nuts can make your salads, oatmeal and pancakes a little more interesting and flavorful! Avoid overly salted and roasted nuts and try to eat them raw if possible.
Ginger not only has amazing immunity boosting effects but it is commonly known to help boost milk supply. Add some zest in your dishes by cooking with ginger. For your bedtime ritual, try grating some fresh ginger in a cup of hot water with lemon and honey for the ultimate relaxation.
Dark leafy greens in general are healthful and nutritious and should be consumed on a daily basis. Broccoli, swiss chard, parsley and spinach are all very nutrient-dense and packed with calcium and iron.
Spinach in particular is high in folates, which is an essential mineral for not only pregnant women but for nursing mothers as well. Loaded with iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and niacin, this powerhouse veggie provides key vitamins for nursing moms and developing babies.
Remember it’s best to cook your greens, rather than eating it raw in salads or sandwiches, because of the risk of food-borne illness. Wondering when to even have the time cook your greens or even let alone, just cook?!
No worries moms, we got you. Our menu is thoughtfully designed to ensure that the best nutrition is offered at every stage of a baby’s life. Birth to age three are the most vital years in a child’s development, which is why our meals are not only perfect for babies and young kids but very beneficial to nursing moms as well. Our online “add-on” feature make it easy for busy moms to order their favorite dishes for themselves.
Yes, it can be quite an overwhelming time for new moms; so long as you keep your diet consisting of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein, fiber and good fats, you’ll do fine. Remember to choose organic when possible. Also, don’t forget to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Without proper hydration, you’ll be left fatigued and your milk supply will be affected. Aim for 3 liters of filtered water a day. As a good gauge, drink an 8-ounce glass of water every time you breastfeed, plus a couple more each day. Depending on your activity level, you may even need more fluids.
While your body is working around the clock producing breast milk, you’ll feel hunger pangs more than usual. Follow your hunger cues and hydrate adequately and you and your baby will do more than just fine. Breastfeeding does not only bring a host of nutritional benefits to your baby but also provides a world of emotional perks for you and your little one. Take this time to enjoy the intimate and precious bonding and don’t put too much pressure on the dos and don’ts of nursing. As long as you keep making smart choices, both you and your baby will be healthy and happy.
And remember, you’ve got company. First Spoons is with you on this journey. You can always contact us if you have some questions.
Photo credits: @maia_moda_mom