Find out more about how good nutrition during breastfeeding can promote greater wellbeing for both mother & baby.
Based on communications with breastfeeding consultant, Myriam Panard, we take you through some breastfeeding nutrition basics.
When a mother is breastfeeding she needs extra energy for lactation, which can vary from 70 to 380 kcal per day. The exact amount depends on a number of factors, including the mother’s weight gain during pregnancy, physical fitness and metabolism.
Breastfeeding is a good way to lose the extra pounds accumulated during pregnancy quicker, since they will be used to produce milk.
A varied, balanced diet will help to keep the breastfeeding mother healthy and full of energy. Preferably the rich micronutrients of organic produce should be included. Of course treats during pregnancy and breastfeeding are fine, as part of a balanced diet.
Which nutrients are best for Mum?
Since the dawn of time across all cultures, breastfeeding nutrition has been a hot topic of conversation. Certain foods or plants are recommended to improve lactation. Most of these foods have a richness of micronutrients (vitamins, iron, zinc, calcium, omega 3) in common.
Among these elements, vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorous into the blood. It plays an important role in the immune system, bone growth and strength and muscle tone. Vitamin D is found in fatty fish, eggs and animal livers. it is activated in the body through exposure to UV radiation. Strict vegetarians and women with little exposure to the sun should be careful about their vitamin D levels. Your family doctor will be able to advise on whether a vitamin D supplement is required for good breastfeeding nutrition.
Vitamin B12 is essential for the normal functioning of the brain, nervous system and blood formation. However, it is only found in foods of animal origin, so it is advisable for vegan women to be supplemented from early pregnancy and as part of their breastfeeding nutrition.
It is recommended to vary your cooking oils to provide a complete supply of essential fatty acids in omega 3,6,9 (rapeseed, walnut, sesame, flax, sunflower and olive oil, preferably of organic origin and obtained by first cold pressing, together with small fatty fish such as mackerel or sardines).
Mothers are often iron-deficient at the end of pregnancy, and iron supplements are prescribed at birth. To avoid compromising iron assimilation, it is recommended that you avoid dairy products rich in calcium for optimum breastfeeding nutrition when you eat iron-rich meals. For example, you should avoid coffee with red meats. Foods rich in vitamin C (green vegetables, lemon juice, etc.) will help to fix iron.
Breastfeeding Nutrition in Practice
In terms of food, anything is allowed in moderation when breastfeeding. The effects on the baby will depend on the quantity you consume of specific foods.
A breastfeeding woman generally feels more thirsty. A total of 8 to 10 glasses of liquid per day is recommended. But forcing yourself to drink won’t make you produce more milk. It’s “emptying” your breasts more often (baby and/or breast pump) that promotes lactation. As a change from water, fresh organic fruit and vegetable juices (especially carrots), smoothies and herbal teas are good alternatives. Tea and coffee can be consumed but in reasonable quantities.
The foods to go for are fresh fruits and vegetables in all their forms (raw, steamed, in juice, in soup), organic whole grains (quinoa, oats, barley, rice, millet, buckwheat, etc.), legumes (peas, lentils, chickpeas, beans, etc.), fresh pollen and lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kefir.
The Best Breastfeeding Nutrition Snacks
Here’s a list of some snacks which require no cooking, are easy to prepare and meet all the requirements for good breastfeeding nutrition:
- Fresh seasonal fruit, preferably organic
- Wholemeal toast spread with crushed sardines with a dash of lemon
- An avocado with a dash of olive oil and lemon
- A slice of walnut bread spread with mashed banana
- Dried fruit (figs, apricots, dates, prunes) and mixed oilseeds (nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
- Hummus accompanied by fresh vegetable sticks (carrot, cucumber, celery, pepper etc.)
- Canned mackerel or anchovies with a drizzle of lemon and a few salad leaves in a pitta
- A handful of sprouted seeds sprinkled with a dash of rapeseed and lemon oil and sprinkled with oil seeds
- Fresh fruit / vegetable juice or smoothie mixed with a handful of ground oil seeds (flax, sesame, almonds, hazelnuts)
Finally, here is a small non-exhaustive list of natural galactagogue products (products that have the property of increasing lactation):
Almonds, Sesame, Coconut, Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds, Aniseed, Fennel, Cumin, Ginger, Oats, Millet, Whole Grain Rice, Barley, Brewer’s Yeast, Fenugreek.
Foods to Avoid When Breastfeeding
Sugar, industrial and refined products (white bread, white flour, refined sugar, refined salt) and dairy products that, in too large a quantity, acidify the body, must be limited.
It is essential for a breastfeeding mother to pay special attention to what she eats. If her diet is constantly inadequate, she may feel more tired and suffer from a decrease in resistance to attacks from germs and viruses. Breastfeeding itself is not tiring; on the contrary, since the mother is resting while feeding her baby, it is mainly the accumulation of body waste and a diet poor in essential nutrients that are the cause of tiredness. Take care of yourself!
Conveniently packaged in baby-bag friendly sachets, Calmosine Breastfeeding is a plant-based food supplement containing ingredients known to soothe fatigue and promote a natural milk supply. It also helps with the maintenance of mucuous and skin membranes. Find out more about how this supplement, which was developed with the support of midwives could contribute to your breastfeeding nutrition.