Nutrition for breastfeeding can often be an overlooked topic, but this area of nutrition is one of the most important ones. In terms of calories and vitamins needed, breastfeeding is more demanding on the body than the actual pregnancy.
With that being said, there are two dimensions of the topic of nutrition for breastfeeding. One being nutrition to produce breast milk, and the other being nutrition for the milk to be the best quality for your baby.
SPECIFICS FOR INTAKE
For starters, you need an extra 330-400 calories per day to support the production of breast milk. Along with calories, your vitamin profile needs to be maintained as well. The prenatal vitamins you were taking during pregnancy should be continued while you are breastfeeding.
Calories and vitamins can be maintained from common whole foods such as:
- Dairy items – yogurt, cheese
- Whole wheat bread, nuts, and seeds,
- Beans and legumes
- Lean meats, fish low in mercury, and eggs
UNDERLYING ISSUES? TROUBLESHOOT FIRST
We know that not everyone faces issues with breastfeeding, but a lot of new mamas do. The most important thing is a fed baby, so if a new mother has to resort to the formula for any of the many reasons, that is ok!
But, if you are trying to stay on the breastfeeding journey, you may need a boost here and there. Someone who is breastfeeding may experience a momentary decrease in supply due to issues such as
- Growth spurt * this is not an issue with an actual decrease in supply, but a breastfeeding mom may face the challenge of keeping up with a sudden increase in demand from baby for a couple of days.
This is important because a breastfeeding mama should try to troubleshoot and solve such underlying issues. For example, if stress is the culprit, try to destress and rest instead of combatting the low supply with every lactation cookie you can find.
Lactation boosters are another set of whole foods that are known to be natural galactogens or milk boosters. You can get a two-for-one deal for yourself because these foods are usually high in nutrients and calories, supporting your supply and milk quality. you get these calories from foods that are known to be common galactogens.
Supply may be an issue that a breastfeeding mama comes across periodically, or it may be struggling with the majority of your breastfeeding journey.
Some foods that can possibly help are;
- Chia seeds
- Nutritional yeast
- Brewers yeast
I want to mention these two because if you are looking for natural ways to boost lactation, these ingredients come up prominently on the good old google search. Fenugreek and brewers yeast are known to cause LOTS of gas for mom and baby. Also, Brewers yeast is not proven to be exactly safe to ingest when breastfeeding, which of course defeats the purpose of making more milk in the first place.
WAYS TO GET THESE FOODS IN
- Meal prep – It can be difficult to make sure you have these foods in your diet all the time, especially if they aren’t staples in your diet already. Without overwhelming yourself, prep some dishes that incorporate these ingredients. Check out our post on meal prep on ways to do this with ease.
- Passive incorporation – If you aren’t into the prep, simply throw these ingredients into your meals whenever possible. Sprinkle some flax seeds or nutritional yeast onto your salad. Add some ginger to your tea.
- Lactation products and recipes – There are lots of lactation food products out there, but a lot of them are actually pretty easy to prepare yourself. Here are some ‘lactation’ foods that are great for supplementing production on low days.
- Oatmeal lactation cookies
- Spinach muffins
- Lactation smoothies
- Lactation brownies
- No-bake lactation cookies
- Chicken barley soup
- Carrot, ginger, lemon juice
- Chocolate Peanut Butter lactation shake
WHEN TO SEE A PROFESSIONAL
If you are really struggling with milk production, you can try to see a lactation consultant or any health practitioner to rule out nutrition as the cause. In cases that are warranted, a breastfeeding mom can be prescribed galactogen medication. And lastly, one needs to check with a health care practitioner before using any herbal or naturopathic supplements for breastfeeding, as this is different from just incorporating foods into your diet.
Thanks for reading! These simple techniques can make a world of a difference for mothers on the breastfeeding journey. Please leave your comments below. Share what things you’ve tried, what worked, and what didn’t. Let’s add to our pool of knowledge!