Moms are superheroes and it begins with a nine-month pregnancy, when a woman’s body is nourishing a baby’s body to grow. When the baby is born (after no small heroic feat of labour), breastfeeding is another superpower of a woman. The ability to offer nourishment from what your body naturally creates is all around amazing. For some women, it can be a difficult journey. For others, there are no hiccups. For all women who find the strength, ability and power to breastfeed, nutrition can play a key role. If mom’s diet is wonderfully rich in nutrients, her baby’s diet will be too. Here are some top tips for creating super-powered breast milk.
Lots of H2O
Did you know that your little one is zapping your body of anywhere between 0.5L to 1L of water each day! You need to replace that fluid lost with clean, filtered H2O. Drink 3L of water a day (herbal tea counts as water here) to avoid symptoms of dehydration like fatigue, something you really don’t need more of! Keep a water bottle close at hand, especially when you are nursing.
Pump Up the Iron
As a woman, you are often in danger of depleted iron stores due to our cycles of monthly blood loss. You can imagine how your body can be at a loss for this nutrient through the blood loss of labour. You need to pump up your iron intake postpartum and should reach for more iron-rich foods to do so. Good sources include red meat, eggs, brown rice, mushrooms, broccoli, kale, green peas, blackstrap molasses, apricots and raisins. A good iron store will keep you feeling energized and well.
Choose Healthy Fats
Your baby’s brain is developing at a rapid rate. And, 60% of the brain is made up of fat, making this macronutrient a vital component of the baby’s diet. Breast milk is naturally rich in healthy fat and your diet should be too. Provide essential fatty acids through your breast milk by reaching for foods like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, flax, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. An increased intake of Omega-3 fat has been shown to help prevent postpartum depression.
Watch for Allergies
Some babies can be colicky or suffer from a lot of uncomfortable gas. What you eat and passed along to your baby through your breast milk can have a huge impact on gastrointestinal comfort. If your baby is having troubles with gas, take a good look at your food intake. Keep a food diary and see the links between what you eat and how your baby responds. Look for common offenders like dairy, chocolate, spicy foods, the nightshade vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes), citrus fruits and cucumbers. Eliminate these foods and then slowly add them back in, one food at a time and judge by your baby’s reaction.
A diet rich in a diversity of vegetables, fruit, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fat that is low on processed foods will offer you much needed energy and vitality. It will enrich your breast milk with the nutrients your baby needs to grow and grow, right before your eyes. A good quality postpartum vitamin will ensure your bases are covered. Don’t forget to rest, rest and rest (and snack often)!