Breastfeeding places many new demands on your body as your metabolism speeds into overdrive to create breast milk. Below are my top 5 foods to feed the nursing mama, with a focus on nutrient-dense foods that may impact milk composition and quality.
Take it from this mama who flipped out at my hubby the first week of breastfeeding because I was so hangry! The breastfeeding diet is not about restricting yourself, it’s about eating smarter. Here are my top 5 foods for nursing moms.
While not technically a food, water might as well be at the top of this list for its importance to the nursing mom! The recommended fluid intake for nursing moms is almost 16 cups/day. But don’t worry! Fluid intake includes fluid intake from foods (especially fruits and vegetables) as well as beverages. Your best bet? Carry a water bottle with you whenever possible and keep a giant glass of water next to you to hydrate while you nurse. Use your thirst as a natural cue to maintain good hydration throughout the day.
Salmon is one of the most nutrient dense proteins for the breastfeeding mama. It is plentiful in DHA and EPA, omega-3 fatty acids that are expressed in breastmilk and support your baby’s healthy brain and nervous system development. Salmon also is rich in vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Stick to about 12 oz of salmon per week, or about two large fillets.
Lentils are loaded with lean protein and fiber. Both of which help to keep you satiated and your digestive system working regularly. Plus, lentils boast plenty of nutrients in high demand during lactation, such as potassium, folate, and moderate amounts of B-vitamins.
Oatmeal is full of satiating fiber, folate, and iron – a nutrient that needs replenishment during the postpartum period. Anecdotally, oatmeal is touted as a galactagogue – a food that can increase milk supply. While the jury is still out on that one, the health benefits of oatmeal make it worthy of regularly working this food into your weekly rotation.
Bell peppers are plentiful in vitamins C and A, antioxidants that are in greater demand while nursing. These antioxidants may also protect mama’s immune system, among many other health benefits. Plus, exposing your baby to the taste of bell peppers in breast milk may increase the likelihood that your baby will enjoy these veggies when she starts eating solids!
Maintain Energy While Breastfeeding
Now that you have your list of top 5 foods for nursing mamas, do you want to know the secret to keeping up your energy while breastfeeding? Don’t forget to eat! Making sure you eat every 3-4 hours is key to keeping your metabolism humming. This also will prevent your blood sugar from dipping too low as well. Take it from this mama who flipped out at my hubby the first week of breastfeeding because I was so hangry! Enlisting your support network is key here – when people ask if they can help, tell them “YES! Feed me!” Because happy, healthy and fed mamas, make for happy and healthy families.