Nutrition for the breastfeeding Mama
The idea behind healthy nutrition for a breastfeeding mama, is to nourish both bub and mama with vitamins, minerals & antioxidants, strengthen the immune systems, provide the mother with enough nutrients to produce an adequate milk supply and to help deal with the new changes (which are often stressful) in this new phase of life.
For the first 6 months an exclusively breastfeeding mother will produce between 800-1,200ml of milk every day, an enormous task. Your daily nutrient requirements are even greater than during pregnancy. An average of 500 extra calories is needed each day.
So what are my top tips?
- Always try eat fresh, organic (where possible), seasonal produce that is close to its natural form. As I say, if it grew in the ground or on a tree it’s good, if it came from a box, jar or can- it’s not as good for you.
- Eat regularly (every 4 hours) and insure a good mix of complex carbohydrates and protein in every meal. For example egg and toast or oatmeal and yogurt.
- Eat enough protein: a good rule of thumb is a a serving the size of your palm, three times a day. When you choose your protein it can be a vegetarian source like lentils, legumes nuts and seeds or animal protein (eggs, chicken, meat, fish, dairy). When choosing animal protein opt for organic, grass fed and free range where possible.
- Essential fatty acids (omega 3‘s) are really important for the development of your child’s brain. You can get adequate omega 3’s from small oily fish (salmon, anchovy, sardines, ocean trout), walnuts & flaxseeds. If you are not eating these foods on a daily basis I recommend supplementing with a Pre-natal DHA supplement.
- Calcium too is very important at this stage as our baby’s body grows). Increase your intake of foods like tahini (sesame seed paste), green leafy vegetables (spinach, bok choy, kale, rocket…), sardines, organic natural yogurt, dried figs, raw almonds.
- Water is the ultimate fluid for breast milk production. Drink a minimum of 2L of filtered or spring water every day. Gentle herbals teas like chamomile are good too, especially at night.
- Eliminate stimulants (caffeine, chocolate, alcohol) as much as possible. Caffeine is detectable in breast milk 15 min after consumption and levels peak after about 1 hour. Caffeine causes irritability and sleep disturbances to bubs.
- Consider a probiotic supplement, especially if your child is suffering from colic, was born via cesarian or was born premature.
- Try avoid stress and anxiety, both will slow you milk production. Allow yourself to sleep and rest when you are tired. Drinking enough water, eating a wholesome nutrient dense, natural diet and adequate sleep are the best tools to produce quality milk.
Remember, the food you eat provides the building blocks for your baby’s future, so make smart, fresh, wholesome, real food choices.