Having a new baby brings a whirlwind of emotions from pure elation to complete exhaustion. Many moms worry about their milk supply and whether or not their babies are getting enough nutrition. If your baby is gaining weight and has wet diapers then don’t jump to the conclusion that you have a milk supply problem!
Diet can impact the quality and quantity of your breast milk and energy, as well as your overall health. With that being said, the human body is very forgiving and breast milk is made to protect and nourish your baby, even if your diet isn't perfect. If you’re looking for some easy ways to give yourself and baby the best diet possible, here are my four important tips for nursing moms...
1) Increase your protein and calcium
Breast Milk is produced from protein from your diet or stored in your body. Calcium is known as the milk making mineral. I always recommend that my clients increase their protein and non-dairy calcium intake while nursing.
Dairy milk is often the go-to source of calcium but did you know that only 30% of calcium in dairy milk is absorbed by our bodies. Compare that to about 70% from greens (kale, collards and mustards).
My favorite source of calcium is almonds. One cup of whole almonds contain approximately 378mg of calcium which is about 100mg more than a cup of dairy milk. Not to mention 20 grams of protein that are packed into the almonds! For protein, I love beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Pumpkin seeds pack 6g protein into half a cup and 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds have 10g protein.
2) Foods and Herbs that increase milk supply
It’s a good idea to balance your diet so it includes fresh veggies and fruits, proteins, gluten free grains (buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, wild rice, millet etc) and good fats (like coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds). Try to stay away from trans-fat and processed foods.
Some of my favorite milk-making foods are reishi mushrooms and shitake mushrooms because they are known for their “lactogenic” effect. Oats also support breast milk production and provide your body with fiber to keep you fuller for longer.
Mother’s milk tea (which includes fenugreek) is my favorite tea to drink while nursing. Fenugreek is a highly recommended herb to quickly increase breast milk supply.
3) Food sensitivities
In general breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to eat what they like, unless they notice an adverse reaction in their baby. If you have a child who has colic, eczema, breathing issues or asthma, look at changing your diet as it’s not uncommon for these issues to be the result of a food sensitivity. The most common foods that children react to are are dairy products, eggs, wheat, shellfish, peanuts, corn, citrus and soy. Dairy is also the number one dietary cause of colic and eczema in babies and often the trigger of asthma because it is mucus-forming. As well as causing breathing issues, excess mucus can also lead to chronic ear infection.
4) Listen to your body
Drink and eat when thirsty and hungry! Many nursing mothers get extremely thirsty while nursing, so make sure to have water readily available when nursing. Pay attention to your body's signals and if you notice darker urine or constipation you need to increase your fluid (and fiber) intake.
Keeping your body healthy with a newborn around can be tough so I make my "Milk Making Smoothie" each morning. This yummy smoothie is very filling and has really helped my milk supply with both of my children.
ENJOY and HAPPY NURSING!