Pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding…whew. It takes a toll on your body. I hear ya mamas, because I have a 12 month old who is still breastfeeding. I’m often asked what a nursing mother should eat. Low fat? High fat? High carb? There are a ton of suggestions out there so it can be quite confusing. I can tell you that this is not the time to go on a diet or try out a new crazy fad. If you’re eating properly, your pregnancy weight should come off if that’s a concern. Kira from A Nourished Life shares a few suggestions about nutrition for breastfeeding moms.
General Nutrition For Breastfeeding Moms
MegaFood – Baby & Me, Prenatal & Postnatal Support for Mother & Baby, 120 Tablets (FFP) Really, your diet should be similar to how it was throughout pregnancy – extra calories and lots of nutrient dense foods. Remember that what you eat is passed through your breast milk to baby, so you want to continue eating high quality foods whenever possible.
Taking a post-natal vitamin can be useful if you’re not getting all of your nutrients from food. Unfortunately there are tons of supplements out there, and many are synthetic which the body cannot properly absorb. Opt for a high quality, plant-based pre or postnatal vitamin if you find you need to supplement (I’m partial to MegaFoods Baby and Me).
When choosing foods, it’s important to eat to nourish both you and baby. The majority of your diet should come from the earth (think plants and animals). I like to tell mothers to follow the 85/15 principle: 85% of your foods should be nourishing, and then the body can support the other 15% that may be nutrient depleting such as refined foods, fast foods, and sugars.
A nursing mother needs more protein than she did prior to conception, as this is essential for milk production and the growth of baby. The best foods are grass-fed, pasture raised meats and eggs, wild-caught fish, and legumes. If you consume dairy, choose full-fat organic rather than reduced fat or skim.
The majority of your carbohydrates should come from vegetables and fruits. Lots of leafy greens for folate, sea vegetables for iodine, and fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi for probiotics. Whole grains are preferred over refined grains, and sprouted grains such as Ezekiel bread can also be a great option as they are typically easier to digest.
Fats are the final piece of the macronutrient puzzle. These are very important for a growing baby’s brain and nervous system. This includes nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, and egg yolk. I also like to include cod liver oil in my diet while nursing since it offers an abundance of DHA and EPA for baby, which has been linked to higher intelligence later in life and decreased allergies.
How Much Water Should You Drink While Breastfeeding
Finally, water intake is crucial for milk production. If you ever wondered how much water to drink while breastfeeding, you should be consuming ½ of your body weight in ounces, or more. Soda, caffeine and alcohol should of course be limited while nursing.
It’s important to remember that as a nursing mother, what you consume is also what baby consumes. If you discover that baby is colicky, has eczema, or develops allergies, it may be related to diet which means that you’ll have to experiment with eliminating some foods (the top allergens are wheat, dairy, and eggs).
Kira Whitham, holistic nutrition educator
Kira has a Master’s in Health and Nutrition Education from Hawthorn University. She is the founder of “a nourished life” where she works with clients both one-on-one and in group sessions. Kira takes a functional approach to nutrition, working to uncover the root of the problem and taking bio-individuality into account, understanding that every person has a different nutritional need. She is also a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP). You can find more information about Kira and working with her on her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.