Best Foods For Breastfeeding Mums
During the post-partum period and while breastfeeding it can be challenging for mums to prioritise their own nutritional needs. Life with a new-born is, after all, often busy and unpredictable. However, whether you are breast-feeding or not, this is a critical time to ensure that your nutritional intake is on point. You have some nutritional work to do to support your own wellbeing (remember your body has just grown a little human, birthed this little human and is now trying to repair while being woken up at all times of night by this little human!) and you may also be nutritionally supporting your little one if you are breast feeding. So what are the best foods for breastfeeding mums and what simple things can you do to make life easier for yourself as a new Mum?
This is a time when I often have mothers seeking my help because they are feeling increasingly run-down and tired, may be experiencing frequent infections and are struggling to find emotional balance with all they are juggling. Some key recommendations I often give regarding the foods and nutrition for breastfeeding mums are:
- Be mindful of your protein intake – important for energy, repair and neurotransmitter synthesis. Although food sources of protein such as organic poultry, eggs, lamb, beef, legumes and nuts & seeds are all good options here, often we also need to look at including a protein smoothie on those busy days to ensure that mums are meeting their protein requirements. I tend to be careful here, as breast feeding mums particularly may find that a dairy based protein supplement doesn’t sit well for their baby’s digestive system so, ideally, a sprouted, fermented pea or rice protein powder can be a better option.
- Essential fats are, well, essential! During pregnancy, our babies take a lot of our dietary omega 3 fats for their nervous system growth. Mums also need these beneficial fats as they support our own nervous systems (think memory, mood, cognition!) as well as being anti-inflammatory. Given that our oceans can be impacted by mercury levels, I like to recommend a high-grade omega 3 fish oil supplement alongside increasing the low-mercury oily fish in the diet.
- Magnesium – this micronutrient works wonders for a new mum! From supporting a calm nervous system, to regulating blood sugar, to supporting bowel regularity – magnesium is a must in my opinion. Some dietary sources of magnesium include nuts, seeds, wholegrains and dark, leafy vegetables. Many mothers will benefit from a supplement alongside their dietary intake – I suggest avoiding the magnesium oxide form as this can be poorly absorbed.
- Have some blood tests done post-partum – this is honestly worth the effort. The post-partum period is definitely not a time that you want to be deficient in key nutrients, especially if you are breast-feeding and wanting optimal nutrition for your bub. I often refer for some basic blood tests through the local pathology lab, as well as request copies of any blood test results from throughout the pregnancy.
Some good habits to consider incorporating:
- Set up a basket near the ‘feeding chair’ in the home – include a full water bottle, a small container of trail mix and an inspiring book or magazine. This sets you up for being hydrated, balancing your blood sugar and having a good health space – even after a broken night’s sleep.
- Cook extra for dinner so you have a meal in the fridge for the next day. Often new mums forget to eat (and this is not a phase of life for intermittent fasting!) so having a ready-to-go meal in the fridge that requires little prep and no thought makes all the difference to your nutrition in the long term.
- Get outside daily if you can – we often underestimate the benefit of sunshine, fresh air and some movement. Even after the most broken sleep, a walk with your bub can be therapeutic for you both.
If you have recently had a baby and would like some support with your health and nutrition, I have a special interest in this area. Book a consultation with me and let me help you through the challenges of new motherhood.
We offer Naturopathy and Nutritional Medicine consultations
at 2 convenient locations, Brisbane CBD and Graceville