Breastfeeding Awareness Month
In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I decided to share all you need to know on what to eat while breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding was the hardest part of being a new mom for me. I felt like other moms emphasized what great bonding time it was and shared how sad they were when they stopped breastfeeding. What I wasn’t aware of was what a massive commitment it would be. The hours of feeding or chained to the pump, wondering if she got enough, waiting for the burp. The running out to get one errand done feeling totally anxious about getting home in time for the next feed or before I started to leak. Never getting to sleep through the night and waking up leaking and in agony. Feeling starving ALL THE TIME. Worrying about if what I ate or drank would upset her tummy. Worrying that I wasn’t making enough milk and wondering why I didn’t make enough to store any milk while my mom friends had freezers full of milk. Feeling guilty about supplementing with formula. Feeling guilty about stopping after 3 months rather than my goal of 6 months. Worrying about which formula was best. These were my real feelings while breastfeeding. I am sharing all of this so that hopefully other new moms don’t feel guilty if they don’t feel that breastfeeding is total bliss. Or if they decide breastfeeding isn’t for them. Breastfeeding is a HUGE commitment and remember, FED IS BEST! All new moms deserve a huge gold medal (or a spa day) whether they decide to breast feed or not.
So now that we’ve had a bit of #realtalk, here are my tips for what to eat while breastfeeding to increase your supply and stay energized (ish) through those exhausting new mom months.
Fats are your best friends! Include avocado, chia, flax and hemp seeds, nuts, nut butters, ghee, coconut oil and salmon. I’m pretty sure I had cinnamon raisin ezekiel toast with ghee or nut butter each morning and when I was in the mood for something more savory, I would have 1/2 an avocado with trader joe’s everything bagel seasoning
Always have snacks on hand. The hunger is real while breastfeeding so have snacks on hand. I would keep snacks in my night table for when I got hungry while pumping or feeding. A batch of roasted nuts with sea salt and cinnamon or garlic and rosemary is a great snack on the go. Cut up veggies with hummus, apple with peanut butter, and coconut yogurt or Siggy’s yogurt with dried mulberries were favorites of mine. Smoothies are a great snack as well and a good way to pack a ton of nutrients into one satisfying meal. I also sipped on bone broth frequently as it is so nutrient packed!
Hungry all the time? Totally normal. You are burning around 500 extra calories breastfeeding so you require more fuel! If you are eager to shed the baby weight and start restricting calories while breastfeeding, your supply will take a dip. So be gentle with your body for the first few months and let your body do its thing.
Stay hydrated- breastmilk is about 90% water so its important to keep up your water supply. Aim to have a full glass of water each time you feed or about 12 glasses of water per day. I carried around a 1 liter water bottle and aimed to drink 3 of them each day. Keeping hydrated will also help battle exhaustion and keep your energy up.
Pack in the nutrients. There are certain nutrients (group 1 below) that your breastmilk will be deficient in if you are not getting enough in your diet. There are other nutrients that your breastmilk will not be deficient in because if are not getting enough, the body takes from your own bone and tissue stores (group 2). So while baby will never be deficient, you will be if you are not getting enough.
Group 1 Nutrients
Below are the group 1 nutrients and some common food sources:
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): Fish, seeds, nuts and whole grain bread.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Cheese, almonds, nuts, red meat, oily fish and eggs.
Vitamin B6: Seeds, nuts, fish, poultry, pork, bananas and dried fruit
Vitamin B12: Shellfish, liver, oily fish, crab and shrimp.
Choline: Eggs, beef liver, chicken liver, fish and peanuts
Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, and eggs.
Vitamin D: Cod liver oil, oily fish, some mushrooms and fortified foods.
Selenium: Brazil nuts, seafood, fish, whole wheat and seeds.
Iodine: Dried seaweed, cod, milk and iodized salt
Group 2 Nutrients
Below are the group 2 nutrients and some common food sources:
Folate: Beans, lentils, leafy greens, asparagus and avocados
Calcium: Milk, yogurt, cheese, leafy greens and legumes
Iron: Red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, green vegetables and dried fruit.
Copper: Shellfish, whole grains, nuts, beans, organ meats and potatoes.
Zinc: Oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts and dairy
Supplements- I recommend continuing your prenatal vitamin throughout breastfeeding to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need. Make sure that prenatal includes vitamin D as you are likely not getting much sun in those first months of motherhood and breastmilk is low in vitamin D. If you are struggling to keep your supply up, I found fenugreek supplements to help a lot! A friend also sent me this lactation support supplement which I would try next time around!
If your baby is experiencing acid reflux or frequent gas or tummy aches, try eliminating the following foods:
Beverages containing caffeine
gas-producing vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, green peppers)
It is definitely hard and having a few bites of these foods here and there most likely won’t have an effect. Remember, cooked veggies are easier to digest and less gas forming than raw veggies so sticking to warm bowls, roasted veggies or stir fries may be an easier way to get in those veggies rather than big salads. While figuring out your baby’s sensitivities, gripe water will be your best friend!
If you are currently pregnant, here are a few breastfeeding musts (at least in my opinion)!!
Lively maternity bras. The only cute ones I found and so comfy!
A hospital grade pump. I used the Spectra S2. Make sure to get it through insurance!
Nursing pads to prevent leaking through your shirt (been there)
Como Tomo bottles- these are game changing! So much lighter than the dr brown bottles and I love that they are squishy! They have an adapter that you can put on top so you can pump right into the bottles
Hope this helps and feel free to comment with any questions!!