It is my opinion that breastfeeding is more intimidating then the actual act of being a mother. When you are a mother, your baby gives you cues of what it needs. You know if your baby is happy or sad. You know when your baby has a wet diaper or if it just simply needs a nap. We just simply know. A mother’s intuition overwhelmingly kicks in and we have the powers of knowing our baby and its needs. However when it comes to breastfeeding, well it’s a guessing game. I doubted and still sometimes doubt myself when it comes to breastfeeding. Am I producing enough milk for my baby? Does my baby even like my milk? Does my milk provide her everything she needs as a growing baby? So many questions. Not enough answers. I knew the one thing that I had control over when it came to my milk was my breastfeeding diet and with that here is a little bit of my own knowledge.
Your Breastfeeding Diet Should Include
- Oatmeal- Oatmeal has amazing powers when it comes to breast milk. It is packed with fiber and iron which you will need lots of since you have experienced blood loss due to delivery. Low levels of iron can significantly decrease your milk supply so anything that you can eat that is packed with iron will help increase your supply. Oatmeal keeps you full longer which is great when finding time to eat is hard when your little one is top priority. I was never a big oatmeal fan so I had to become creative to make oatmeal appealing to me. I add lots of fruit such as blueberries, apples, bananas and even cinnamon to make the taste more appealing. And if you are just interested in snack that is more appealing than oatmeal, try out an oatmeal creme pie from Little Debbie. You deserve it. 🙂
- Water- Water is crucial. You can never drink enough water. Us nursing mamas are especially at high risk for dehydration so if you feel thirsty- drink. In my post, Secrets of Breastfeeding That No On Tells, I discuss how the amount of water that my body craves since I have been breastfeeding is unreal. A quart of breastmilk is made up of 90 percent of water. Without water you cannot make milk. Not only does proper water intake help your milk supply, but it also prevents constipation and fatigue. If you get bored with just plain water, make sure to add some lemon or lime. Drink up!
- Protein- Aaah protein. Protein is so important when you are nursing as it aides in increasing your supply. Every time you eat a meal or snack you should try to incorporate some protein in your choice of foods. Besides the basic red meat, chicken, and fish, you can get a good mix of protein from peanut butter, eggs, nuts, beans, and cottage cheese. Make sure to limit your fish intake though due to mercury levels. Generally you are going to need an extra 15 grams of protein a day.
- Coconut- The more research that I do over coconut the more I’m in love with this magical fruit. Coconut is filled with Omega-3, EFA, an incredible fat called Monolaurin, and Lauric Acid- all which are essential to producing breast milk. Coconut comes in so many forms such as oils, milk, water that it is so easily to ingest. I have had amazing results with my milk supply from adding coconut to my diet. In a post called, Can Starbucks Really Increase Your Milk Supply, I purchased a drink from Starbucks called the pink drink which is made of primarily coconut milk. My supply went thru the roof to the point that I was having trouble keeping up with pumping. Anytime I start to worry about my supply, I drink a glass of coconut milk or I drink coconut water which I am then quickly reminded that my supply is just fine and that I am paranoid.
- Prenatal Vitamins- Just when you thought your days of taking prenatal vitamins were over, think again. Your body will be clinging to all of the vitamins it can grab more than ever. Your energy level is going to be low and sometimes eating healthy is going to be challenge. Let’s face it- it’s so easy to forget what mama’s needs are when you have this precious baby staring up at you that is hungry. Make sure to take care of yourself and take your prenatal vitamins daily. You body and your baby (milk supply) will thank you for it.
Your Breastfeeding Diet Should Not Include
- Caffeine- Ok, we all need that cup of coffee. Probably now more than ever, but you still want to watch your caffeine intake. Having 2 cups of caffeine a day will not harm the baby or your supply, but anything more will upset your baby as the caffeine can cause your baby to be fussy and jittery.
- Alcohol- Alcohol is pretty controversial. Some experts say a glass of wine is fine as long as you limit your intake and pump afterwards. Some say to stay completely away from alcohol because it can lessen your supply and make its way to your milk supply. As bad as I would love to have a glass of wine, I have chosen to stay away from it period. For me, it just isn’t worth the risk. Besides, who can really just have 1 glass of wine. I know I can’t. 🙂
- Parsley and Peppermint- Eliminating peppermint from my diet was a huge disappointment for me especially since I am a huge fan of peppermint mocha, but it should be known that parsley and peppermint will decrease your milk supply.
- Garlic and onions- Oh it broke my heart knowing I couldn’t cook with onions and garlic, but unfortunately you must not. Garlic and onions will effect the taste of your milk supply. Just as garlic and onions give you bad breath they will also cause your milk to taste rather foul to your baby. Upon eating foods cooked with garlic and onions, your baby maybe less inclined to nurse.
- Dairy- Breastfed babies naturally battle constipation. My poor Emilia would sometimes go 7 days without pooping. I have never been a big cow’s milk fan, but you should know that consuming lots of diary can cause constipation in your baby leaving you with a very cranky baby. There are wonderful dairy substitutes such as dairy free cheeses, ice cream, butter and milk. I highly recommend Daiya diary free cheese which does not taste like dairy free cheese at all.
Remember always eat and drink when you feel the need. Don’t worry about losing weight because you will by breastfeeding. After all, your baby eats your calories. Don’t get discourage when you don’t lose 20 lbs right after brith because it will come off. If you lose weight too quickly, your milk supply will be impacted so keep in mind slow and steady is key. Think of a breastfeeding diet as a way to keep you and your baby- not to lose weight.