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How to Nourish Your Body While Nursing

For a lot of first time moms (or even not first time moms) the thought in the forefront of their mind is “getting their body back” after having baby. It’s really important to take some time to just adjust to having a newborn and nourish your body. You should focus on getting the vitamins and nutrients your body needs from food. If you choose to nurse you will need to eat a few more calories than you normally would, it might not be as much as you think though.


In the first few months after the baby is born moms should eat to appetite. There isn’t a dire need to worry about certain foods. Choosing a variety of foods will help you to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function and provide milk for your baby. Like when you’re not nursing a baby, you should choose lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats and fruits and vegetables whenever possible. You should continue taking your prenatal vitamin while nursing. Your doctor or lactation consultant might suggest other supplements as well, in order to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs.


Try to eat every three to four hours. If the baby is on a pretty regular schedule of nursing every three hours during the day this would be a good cue to get yourself something to eat while nursing the baby. This can also help the mom, whose appetite is low. Eating small, frequent meals may feel more manageable than larger, more filling meals. Appetite can be low for many reasons, including hormonal changes, emotional highs and lows, physical demand and depression. This is something that you should look out for and discuss with your provider so that they can look out for signs of postpartum depression.


While nursing you want to eat nutritiously, but you also want to eat enough for your body to produce milk. You need approximately 500 calories above your maintenance level in order to produce sufficient milk for the baby. An example of a nourishing snack you can add in to your diet would be a cup of yogurt, two tablespoons of nut butter, a quarter cup of pumpkin purée and a cup of fruit with a sprinkle of granola on top. With this snack you get your protein, healthy fat, fruit, vegetable and a few whole grains. A Nutrition Coach can help you figure out your maintenance level of caloric intake.


There are two groups of nutrients you need to focus on taking in while nursing. It is important to take enough of group A nutrients for you and your baby. You need to be sure to take in enough of group B nutrients to replenish what is being taken for your milk. There will be the same amount of group B nutrients in your milk regardless of how much you take in. However, if you don’t take in enough they will be taken from your bones and muscle tissue to supply your milk.


Group A Nutrient: Group B Nutrients:

Vitamin B1: fish, pork, nuts and seeds Folate: beans, leafy greens, avocados

Vitamin B2: cheese, almonds, eggs, legumes Calcium: yogurt, leafy greens, legumes

Vitamin B6: chickpeas, poultry, potatoes Iron: Red meat, poultry, beans

Vitamin B12: shellfish, yogurt, banana Copper: shellfish, whole grains, nuts

Choline: eggs, fish, peanuts Zinc: poultry, beans, dairy

Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens

Vitamin D: oily fish, some mushrooms

Selenium: brazil nuts, seafood, whole wheat

Iodine: dried seaweed, milk, iodized salt


Galactagogues are specific foods, herbs and pharmaceuticals that are purported to increase milk supply. One of the more commonly known galactagogue foods is fennel and fennel seed. Grains, specifically oats, are considered to be a milk boosting food. Some other foods that are considered to increase milk supply are brewer’s yeast, chickpeas, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Lactation cookies are usually a combination of many of these ingredients.


There are several reasons these might work to increase milk supply. You’re increasing your caloric intake by adding these to your diet. Some of these foods are comfort foods which causes a release of oxytocin which aids in the production of milk. You might feel like you are doing something to boost your milk supply which allows you to relax which in turn helps boost your milk supply because stress is a major inhibitor of milk production. However, there is no scientific evidence that these foods work on their own to increase milk supply.


It is very important to nourish your body with whole foods while nursing. Your body needs the nutrients and minerals in order to function and to produce milk. There are some foods that are considered milk boosters but the most important things are to make sure you’re consuming enough food to fuel your body and milk production and to nurse on demand. Eating a variety of foods ensures that you will get the nutrients you need!


 

Bjarnadottir, A., MS, RDN, & Kubala, J., MS, RDN. (2020, July 31). Breastfeeding Diet 101: What to Eat While Breastfeeding. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/breastfeeding-diet-101


Margolis, S., RD. (2020, January 30). Breastfeeding diet - what to eat while breastfeeding. Retrieved March 02, 2021, from https://www.momsintofitness.com/nutrition/breastfeeding/


Staff, M. C. (2020, April 23). Breast-feeding nutrition: Tips for moms. Retrieved March 02, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/breastfeeding-nutrition/art-20046912


Timmons, J. (2018, December 14). Galactagogues: 23 Foods That Increase Milk Supply. Retrieved March 02, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/galactagogues


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