The classic question…Many parents want a direct list of dos/don’ts. You aren’t going to find that here because a well balanced diet with lots of nutrient dense foods is ideal. Restrictions, diets and eliminating whole categories of food groups are the only things on my DO NOT list. Often Moms are so concerned about the “what” of their intake instead of focusing on the amount of food, correct serving sizes and how often they are eating. Getting enough calories and eating frequently can be a challenge in the early postpartum days when you are unsure how much or what exactly to eat. Milk production and milk supply is best supported by adding in extra calories and VERY frequent meals. If you are looking for a healthy range of calories to consume, the minimum would be 2,400-2,500+ calories DAILY. Frequency of meals is very important too as you are feeding baby every 2-3 hours. That requires a steady intake of food for fuel. On top of frequency making sure you are getting in quality carbohydrates, protein, calcium, and fats at each meal along with snacks – will help fuel your body’s increased energy demands and meet baby’s needs. Additionally, when we talk postpartum 4th trimester and breastfeeding, it is important to focus on warmed food – think low and slow heat. This can help you plan and prepare meals that are easy to digest by your body. Think soups, bone broths, stews, chilis, curries and casseroles! these are all great meals that can be prepped by family & friends if possible – so you can focus on healing, nourishing and being a breastfeeding mother. It is important to note that your breastmilk is the perfect food so you don’t have to strive for perfection in your own diet. Perfection isn’t required, but awareness of how you fuel your body and an effort to do your best is – because it absolutely can impact healing, your metabolism and your overall mood and mental health.
A few things that do have an impact on your milk is the type of fatty acids you consume and vitamins/minerals. About 50% percent of the fatty acids you eat transfer to your milk. So what does that mean? It means you want to focus on eating nourishing fats, that are naturally occurring and minimally processed. Nourishing fats that help improve fatty acids in your milk include: olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, animal fats/dairy products (meat, seafood, eggs, butter, cream, or even supplemental omega 3/DHA, fish oil or Cod Liver Oil). Many breastfeeding women need a vitamin D supplement of 6400IU daily to pass to baby via breastmilk. You can also aim for thirty minutes to one hour of sunshine weekly for you and baby to help increase Vitamin D levels naturally.
Overall, you can’t get it wrong when eating and nice varied, nutritious, colorful plate. Remember that flavors from foods can pass to milk and help with food preferences later on in life for your baby. Don’t be afraid to eat seasoned dishes that have some spice or heat often the flavor passed to your milk is not overwhelming and often increases the amount of milk eaten. In one study babies were more vigorous at the breast when moms had consumed garlic vs moms who did not eat any garlic. SO season your plate, enjoy your meals and eat ENOUGH is the bottom line of a breastfeeding diet.
Nutrient dense foods to fuel your body while breastfeeding:
- Veggies– potatoes, sweet potato, yucca, parsnips, zucchini, bell peppers, spinach and leafy greens, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, squash, tomatoes, lentils, etc.
- Starchy grains/ whole grains– rice, oats, quinoa, sourdough, cereals, etc.
- Fruits – berries, dates, melon, bananas, oranges, mangoes, pineapples, dried fruits, etc.
- Bone broth
- Grass-fed/pastured meats- bone in/skin & slow-cooked especially.
- Organ meats- liver!
- Wild, fatty rich foods– salmon, tuna, sardines, etc.
- Coconut milk/oil
- Olive Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Grass-fed butter/ghee
- Quality dairy – cow’s milk, cream, yogurt, etc.
- Nut butters: peanut butter, almond, cashew etc.
- Quality local Honey
- Maple Syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Raw unrefined sugar
Want more on breastfeeding nutrition? Join us in our Confident Breastfeeding Courses.
Thanks for stopping by!
Aubri Lutz, RN, IBCLC