For the first few weeks breastfeeding can be anything between traumatizing and perfect. Let’s talk about the easy side of nursing… the nutrition!
Breastfeeding… it can be very confusing! We grew up watching all the women around us nurse their infants, however, when it came time to our own, not only was there lots of advice to go around, but it had completely disappeared from view. The closest we come to is a mom and baby discreetly nursing behind a cape. So it can be anything between traumatizing and perfect, at least for the first few weeks. Let’s talk about the easy side of nursing… the nutrition!
Modern day living does not allow for the prior rules of “carry your baby all the time and when in doubt, latch them on!” We have jobs, obligations, lunch meetings, family in town, friends visiting, appointments, and other kids. And scheduled babies are happier babies in today’s world. So building and maintaining a sufficient milk supply can be difficult, which means we need all the help we can get and that starts with nutrition.
HYDRATION: A mom with a full and established milk supply can go from producing 1.2 litres of milk a day to 0 if she gets dehydrated. Making milk not only directs some of the water in your body to your breasts, it also uses water in the production process. So if your milk suddenly dries up, don’t panic. Reach for 2 litres of water and repeat. If you don’t like plain water… never fear! There are wonderful teas out there, like Mother’s Milk specifically for nursing women! Anything with fennel, fenugreek, or blessed thistle can be extra helpful.
Try to avoid teas with peppermint or sage in them as these can make your milk supply drop. Also be mindful of kombucha, as it can have alcohol in it, and if it’s not produced safely it can harbor some pretty scary microbes. Other drinks like sodas are filled with sugar or sugar substitutes and should take a back seat.
CAFFINE: This is the one moms worry most about. “Is my 3 cups of coffee going to keep my baby awake?” And the answer unfortunately depends on the child. The best advice is to cut back on caffeine as much as possible. If you do find you absolutely need tea or coffee, do your best to feed or pump right before consuming it. Pay close attention to your infant, if they start waking up more once you start drinking your morning latte, then it may be affecting them. A single cup however, will not affect most babies.
ALCOHOL: There are test strips you can use to determine if your milk has too much alcohol in it. If you had a wild night and you don’t have access to these strips; then pumping your milk when you get home and dumping it down the drain is your best option. If you only had a single glass of wine, wait as long as you can to feed your baby and you should be fine. The alcohol in your milk supply is equivalent to what is in your bloodstream. For example your breast milk is .2 to .25% alcohol.
CALORIES: If you are working on losing the baby weight by cutting calories, your milk supply will most likely suffer. Most of us spend our lives cutting calories, however, this is one time when you need to let that go. But exactly how much extra food should you be eating? Well, it depends on your milk production goals. Are you a working mom? How long is your maternity leave? How long do you want to provide breast milk for your baby? Do you want to exclusively breastfeed or only nurse baby and supplement with formula?
To set a benchmark, the average four month old will eat about 900 milliliters of milk a day and there are 70 calories in 100 milliliters of breast milk. Which means your baby will eat about 630 calories per day. If all 630 calories come from breast milk then that is the bare minimum of extra calories that you need to consume. However, you will also burn calories in the production process. Your milk doesn’t magically appear without your body doing the extra work to create it. So many moms find that eating 700 – 800 calories extra per day is more beneficial.
FOOD: You might be wondering… what kinds of foods should you be eating? The answer is healthy food and whenever possible eat organic. Don’t skip your greens and proteins sources like lean meat. Be aware of raw and undercooked meat due to food poisoning and not too much fish because of high mercury levels.
VITAMINS: Keep taking your prenatal vitamins. Your body is going to be using lots of nutrients like: calcium, potassium, and iron and passing them onto your baby. If you’re not actively replacing these vitamins and minerals, your body will run deficit. Which can lead to muscle cramps, weak bones, hair loss, and all sorts of other health problems later.
ELIMINATON DIET:This advice has been handed down for years… not to eat beans, as they will make your baby gassy and don’t eat spicy food because your milk will become too spicy. This is based on the assumption that what you eats goes directly into your milk supply and that your baby will suffer from food specific allergies and intolerances. The theory goes: gas is due to red meats and beans and acid reflux from broccoli. Occasionally these things are true…. sometimes babies do have allergies and when you cut out various foods from your diet, it makes a big difference. However, most babies who suffer from allergic reactions due to something you’re eating are often accompanied with other symptoms such as: hives, watery diarrhea, large patches of relentless eczema and very painful gassiness. It’s always best that if you suspect your baby has a health issue, check with your doctor first.
GALACTAGOGUES: No conversation on the topic of breastfeeding nutrition would be complete without touching on galactagogues! Galactagogues are grand foods that can help spur your milk supply into overdrive!
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Brewers yeast
Some moms find it helpful to cook with galactagogues items, grouping as many items together as possible. You can make cookies with almonds, oats, and flax seed. Tea with the fennel, fenugreek, and blessed thistle or a balanced green juice made up of spinach and sprouts! See our recipes below.
If you are eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, staying well hydrated and your production is still low… the best thing to do is seek out an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. They always have excellent advice.
GREEN JUICE SMOOTHIE:
- 300 grams Spinach
- 400 grams Strawberries
- 1 Cored Green Apple
- Juice From One Lemon
- Water as needed.
- Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
- Add water to thin to desired consistency.
- Juice can be stored in fridge for 3 days.
CHOCOLATE CHIP OAT COOKIES:
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1.75 cups Brown Sugar
- 1 cup Butter
- 2 Eggs
- 4 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2.5 cups Oats
- 1.75 cups Unbleached Flour
- 2 cups of Chocolate Chips
- 1/2 cup of Flax Meal
- 1 cup Chopped Pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) together in separate bowl.
- Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and beat for another 2 minutes. Mix in cream. Add oats.
- Gently fold in dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips, pecans and flax meal.
- Cover a cookie sheet in parchment paper. Space cookies about 1.5 inches apart. Bake until just barely golden, usually about 15 to 20 minutes.
- 3 Inches of Ginger (peeled and sliced or crushed)
- 1 Tablespoon Fennel Seeds
- 1 Tablespoon Dill Weed
- 2 Servings of Chamomile Tea
- Agave Syrup to Taste
- Place all ingredients in boiling water and let simmer for 5 minutes.
- Pour though sieve and add agave to taste.
- Enjoy hot or cold. This is also an excellent remedy for reflux!