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Congratulations on your new arrival! Now that your little one is here, you may be wondering what you can do to make breastfeeding easier. While there are many factors that go into a successful breastfeeding relationship, the food you eat plays a big role.
When it comes to breastfeeding, many mothers are focused on the milk itself – how much they are producing, how thick it is, and what colour it is. But what about the foods that breastfeeding mothers need to be eating?
There are a few key nutrients that breastfeeding mothers need to focus on during this time. Let’s take a look at some of them.
It is generally well accepted that a mother’s diet can have a big impact on the nutrients in her breast milk. It is also generally accepted that a lack of Vitamin A, for instance may lead to night blindness in nursing infants; while a deficiency of vitamin B12 could lead to anaemia. Vitamin C is important for immunity and for collagen production in skin, tendons, and bones to grow healthily in babies. Meanwhile, a severe lack of vitamin D may lead to Rickets.
Where Can I Find It?
When it comes to vitamins, there are two ways to get them: through food or supplements. While supplements can be convenient, they’re no substitute for the real thing.
After all, what’s the point of taking a supplement if you’re not getting the nutrients you need from your diet? Luckily, there are plenty of foods that are rich in vitamins. For example, citrus fruits are an excellent source of Vitamin C, while vegetables like Carrots, pumpkins, red amaranth, and goji berries are high in Vitamin A which helps the eyes.
Foods that provide Vitamin D are limited. Some that are more easily available are: Mushrooms, Salmon, and Fortified Foods like Soy and Milk. However, the most potent source of this nifty vitamin is the sun! Thus, it is important to be out in the sun for at least 15 mins twice a week. This particular vitamin helps to support the immune system of both babies and mothers.
Iodine is essential for the health of the baby. Iodine helps the baby’s brain to develop properly, and it also helps to protect against thyroid problems.
Nursing mothers need to make sure that they are getting enough iodine in their diet, either through supplements or by eating foods that are rich in iodine.
By taking these steps, nursing mothers can help to ensure that their baby gets the iodine he or she needs for proper development.
Where Can I Find It?
If you’re looking for a food that’s packed with iodine, you might want to consider heading to the sea. That’s because seafood is one of the best sources of this essential nutrient.
Fish such as tuna, cod, and salmon are all excellent choices, and shellfish such as shrimp and crab are also good options. It is also good practice to purchase and use iodised salt regularly instead of the himalayan salt or pink salt that are sold in the market.
If you’re not a fan of seafood, though, don’t worry – there are other foods that can help you get your iodine fix. For example, eggs and dairy products are both good sources of iodine. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to stock up on these healthy options!
One key nutrient that is essential for both mother and child during breastfeeding is omega-3 DHA. DHA is an important building block for the brain and eyes, and babies who consume DHA-rich breastmilk may just go on to have better cognitive function and vision. For mothers, omega-3 DHA has been said to improve moods. So, whether you’re hoping to help your baby’s brain power or just want to keep the blues at bay, make sure to get plenty of omega-3 DHA while breastfeeding.
Where Can I Find It?
Salmon, tuna, and other fatty fish are often touted as being good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. However, not all fish are created equal when it comes to Omega 3s. In fact, some fish, such as tilapia and catfish, actually contain lower amounts of Omega 3s, which means you may need to eat more often to achieve adequate intakes of Omega 3-DHA. So, if you’re looking for foods that are rich in Omega 3s, you’re better off sticking with salmon, skipjack tuna, or other fatty fish which only requires 2 to 3 servings per week to achieve adequate intakes. In addition to being a good source of Omega 3s, these fish are also low in mercury and other contaminants. So, you’ll know that you’re giving your little one only the best!
For nursing mothers, choline is essential for both their own health and the health of their babies. This nutrient helps to maintain cell membranes, and it plays a role in nervous system development. In addition to helping with prevention of birth defects, after birth benefits also include support in early brain development of babies. Its role in the brain helps to regulate mood, memory and muscle control. For all these reasons, choline is an important nutrient for nursing mothers to consume.
Where Can I Find It?
While it is found in some foods, such as eggs (two eggs a day is able to give a breastfeeding mummy up to 60% of her daily requirement) and beef, the best way to get enough choline is through supplements…IF you are a vegetarian. Should you have no dietary restrictions on meat, then the aforementioned two eggs per day will be your best bet!
Any mother who has attempted to breastfeed knows that it is not always easy. In addition to the usual challenges of caring for a newborn, nursing mothers must contend with sore nipples, engorgement, and the possibility of mastitis. Luckily, there are a few lactogenic foods that can help to support breastfeeding. Here’s three of our favourites!
Fenugreek is an ancient herb that has been used for centuries in traditional Indian medicine. Today, it is best known as a lactogenic ingredient, which means that it can help to promote milk production in breastfeeding mothers.
It works by stimulating the release of the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for milk production.
Additionally, Fenugreek is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B1, B2, B6 iron, calcium, and magnesium, which are all essential for the growth of infants and mother’s health.
For these reasons, Fenugreek is often recommended as a trusty aid for breastfeeding mothers.
The jury is still out on whether or not garlic is a lactogenic ingredient, but there are a few theories about how it might help with breastfeeding.
Additionally, garlic is thought to promote milk production by increasing levels of prolactin, a hormone that plays an important role in lactation.
Finally, some believe that the pungent flavour of garlic may help to stimulate the appetite, making nursing mothers more likely to consume the calories they need to produce milk.
Whether or not garlic actually has these lactogenic properties is still up for debate, but there’s no harm in trying it out for yourself. Just be sure to add it to your diet in small quantities, as too much garlic may cause stomach upset in you if you are not used to having much garlic in your diet.
Fennel has a long history of use as a breastfeeding aid and is considered a galactagogue, which means it helps to support milk production. It is thought to work by mimicking the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for milk production.
In addition, fennel also contains minerals like iron and manganese, which are essential in a healthy diet that supports both mother and baby. For this reason, it is considered a safe and healthy option for breastfeeding moms.
Let’s sum it all up – what should you be eating while breastfeeding? Plenty of nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins like fish and milk. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll also be giving your baby the best start possible.
Yes, we understand that breastfeeding is a challenging but rewarding experience. By focusing on eating nutrient-rich meals for lactation, you’ll be taking the best possible care of yourself and your new baby.
These are just a few examples of the types of food that can help boost your milk supply and keep you feeling your best. For more information on healthy lactation meals, be sure to check out our lactation food menu for plenty of ideas on meals that will help keep you and your little one feeling great.