Breastfeeding and Diet: A Guide to Lactation and Nutrition
Bread and butter were my…well… bread and butter in the early days of being a new mum. It was easy to forget to take care of myself; and worrying about my diet came somewhere on the list after baby, baby, sleep, baby, brush teeth. I felt incredibly lethargic and exhausted all the time; this is somewhat normal when caring for an infant, but it gets so much worse if you’re not eating well. Your body needs a lot of energy in order to make milk and cope with the demanding routine of being a mum.
Oh yes. I hear you say. I’ll just put my perfectly behaved baby in the freshly cleaned high chair and they’ll just sit there quietly while I whip up my grilled salmon, sautéed rocket and quinoa salad with a drizzle of lemon juice and parsley garnish. Yeah right!
I tend to open my kitchen drawer, pull out a utensil and think, ‘what the hell is this for?’ So we’ve put together some essential information about the vitamins and minerals new mums need and ways to easily incorporate them into your diet.
Phytoestrogens are plant-based chemicals that have similar properties as estrogen and are believed to promote breast tissue health and lactation. There are many foods that contain phytoestrogens and incorporating them into your diet will turn you into a milk-making mama machine!
- Water: There is a reason that you get thirsty while you breastfeed. Your body is using that extra water to make breastmilk. It’s not necessary to drink excessive amounts of water but you should listen to your body, if you’re thirsty – have a drink (water not wine!). Leave water bottles all over the house so you always have water next to you. It’s too easy to become distracted and think you’ll grab some ‘in a minute’ and then it’s three hours later. You can also increase your liquid intake through decaffeinated herbal teas.
- Calcium: One cup of almonds has the same amount of calcium as one cup of milk. Put them in little zip lock bags in case you need to eat and run.
- Omega-3 fats: These fats are believed to increase your milk supply, keep you full, feed your brain and help with dry skin (always an issue while breastfeeding). The best sources of these are linseeds, walnuts (throw them in the zip lock bag with your almonds) and salmon.
- Grains: Breastfeeding mums – carbohydrates are your friend! Eating complex carbohydrates will give you energy throughout the day and fuel to make lots of milk for bub. Oats in particular are said to increase milk supply due to their high iron content. Make a bowl of oatmeal every morning or soak it in hot water overnight for easy instant oats for breakfast.
- Iron: Spinach is an excellent source of calcium, iron, Vitamin K, A, and folate. Dark leafy green vegetables contain phytoestrogens. Throw baby spinach on your sandwiches, salads or stir-fries for instant milk-making goodness.
- Lactation Cookies: Yum, yum and yum…whoever thought of lactation cookies is a genius. You can boost milk supply, get valuable vitamins and minerals, plus they’re cookies! Isn’t that reason enough? Lactation cookies include a variety of phytoestrogen rich ingredients designed to give you a dose of energy and nutrition in one hit. You can make your own or try our wheat, dairy and preservative free Totally Devoted Lactation Cookies.
If you’re feeling energetic and motivated then below is a simple salad recipe:
- Alfalfa Sprouts
- Sesame seeds
- Brown rice
- Salmon (fresh, canned or smoked – your choice)
- Garlic (crushed or a jar of minced)
- Coconut or olive oil (for dressing)
Cook a large amount of brown rice, separate it into portions and freeze. That way you just have to defrost it rather than cook it all the time. Go to the fridge, grab your rice, salmon and vegetables; chuck it all in a bowl. Mix the garlic and oil together and use as a dressing. You can add or remove any ingredients, but all of the above have the phytoestrogens thought to increase milk supply.
Add your own easy energy recipes or tricks for boosting breastmilk in the comments section below