By Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN
Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to eating for one and having ownership of your body again? Well if you’ve chosen to breastfeed, I hate to tell you that your body is still not your own and that glass of wine you’ve been craving may have to be timed a bit more carefully. Hang in there, it’s worth it!
Breastfeeding is the best way to ensure your baby will receive all the nourishment it needs to grow and thrive. As a breastfeeding mother, one of your jobs is to eat food that will help with milk production, avoid side effects for baby and keep your appetite at bay.
I can promise you that you'll never feel hungrier than you will while breastfeeding. Yup, it’s true that breastfeeding can burn about 500 additional calories per day (slow clap here!) so eating nutrient-dense diet is essential. Not only will this help you produce nutrient-rich milk, it will also keep your appetite in check and prevent cravings and energy drops throughout the day (and nights!).
So what might this look like? It includes a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, some dairy, protein (fish, lean meat, eggs), healthy fats, and whole grain starchy foods that are also full of fiber. Okay, okay what does that really look like? See below for some food choices I recommend while breastfeeding that can help deliver optimal nutrients to you and your baby:
1) Salmon: a great food to incorporate into the diet when breastfeeding because it is high in DHA, a type of fat that baby’s need to develop their nervous systems. Not only does this fat help the baby, but it also helps boosts mom’s mood, so it’s a win-win!
2) Blueberries: super high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and a great way to keep energy levels up.
3) Legumes: filled with iron, especially dark-colored beans and kidney beans- vegan and budget friendly!
4) Nuts: packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. They help improve the quality and quantity of breast milk, especially raw almonds. Try to avoid salted or other types of nuts that have added sugars, stick to the basics!
5) Brown rice/whole wheat bread/whole grain cereal: people always say that cutting back on carbs will help them lose weight. True when talking about white, processed carbs but not complex carbs. Enjoy them as they will help to keep you full, regular and energized while providing great quality milk for your newborn.
6) Dark leafy greens: sure, you’ve heard this before, but eating these vegetables plays a vital role in providing your baby with calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. They’re also low in calories and have heart-healthy antioxidants!
7) Water: this might seem obvious, but so many breastfeeding moms are dehydrated. And, keep in mind dehydration doesn’t always show up as “thirsty.” You can feel sluggish, weak, dizzy, head-achy, constipated and more. All the things you certainly don’t have time for with a new baby. Stay hydrated by enjoying lots of different drinks including water, tea, decaf coffee, green juices, seltzer, lemon water and more! Water is your best bet and to keep milk production and energy levels high! Pro-tip: down a glass every time you feed your baby or pump milk!
These are just a few healthy, whole food ideas that help ensure maximum nutrient-rich milk production for your baby while keeping you satisfied and healthy, too. Having a newborn is a lot of work, so do what you can, remember every day is different but keeping your fridge and pantry stocked with many of these foods will help even during those foggy, sleep-deprived moments!
Thanks so much for these wonderful tips Amy!
xoxo,Teat & Cosset
Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and director of Real Nutrition, a NYC-based private practice dedicated to healthfully and successfully guiding clients to their optimal nutrition, weight, and overall wellness. She is internationally recognized for her individualized, lifestyle-focused approach, which integrates realistic food plans, smart eating habits, and active living.