Your Diet & Breastmilk: Is There a Link?
Does what I eat have an impact on the quality of my breast milk?
Is there anything I can’t eat if I’m nursing?
Is there anything I should consume on a daily basis while breastfeeding?
Is it necessary for me to take supplements while breastfeeding?
These are just a few of the questions that may be running through your mind while you consider nursing. It’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed! Let’s look into all of this and more to put your mind at ease and give you confidence in your food choices while also nourishing your child.
What effect does the food I eat have on the amount of breast milk I produce?
To begin with, there is no such thing as a “perfect diet,” but we do know that some foods are higher in nutrients than others. While it’s important to meet your nutritional needs after giving birth, the quality of the breast milk you make is not necessarily affected by your food choices. They have a higher impact on the amount of breastmilk you make, therefore we pay more attention to diet choices for supply issues rather than nutrition issues.
The composition of breastmilk is unaffected by the amount of carbs, protein, or fat consumed by a woman. This means that regardless of your diet, the percentage of calories from carbohydrates, protein, and fat will remain constant. However, the type of fat a mother consumes has an impact on the amount of breast milk she produces.
When you increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids, especially from fatty fish and seaweed, your breastmilk will have more of these healthy fats too. This is important because DHA, one type of omega 3 fatty acids, is essential for brain and eye growth and development. Generally, a lack of sufficient calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals in a mother’s diet decreases the quantity of breastmilk produced, but not the quality of the breast milk. Even if your diet lacks certain vitamins and minerals in the diet, your breastmilk will usually meet your baby’s needs. Any exceptions to this would be due to long term deficiency- most commonly in vitamins B6, B12, vitamin A and D
Six Ways to Increase Breastmilk Supply (with a couple delectable recipes!)
There are six major factors to consider if supply is an issue. Hydration, energy consumption, rest, stress, food selection, and feed frequency are all factors to consider.
1. Keep yourself hydrated. Drink water before and after each breastfeed, and keep a bottle next to your bed. If plain water bores you, try mixing it with sliced melons, limes, cucumber, and pineapple.
2. Keep yourself nourished. While breastfeeding can help new women lose some of their pregnancy weight, it is not the time to go on a calorie-restricted diet. Calorie restriction has little effect on the composition of breastmilk, although it might create frustration for both you and your baby if your supply drops.
3. Eat a snack or a small meal every 2-3 hours to ensure that you get enough calories and nutrients to generate adequate milk for your baby.
• Include oats, dates, fennel, fenugreek, and spinach in your daily diet.
• Breakfast ideas include overnight oats and oatmeal.
• Make almond butter date boats and energy bites a regular snack in your house.
• In the afternoon, have a cup of fenugreek tea.
• Fennel can be used in soups, roasted vegetables, and salads. A salad with fennel, radicchio, and grapefruit is delicious.
4. Take a break. It is crucial to prioritise rest/sleep over other demands at times. And, if you are able, accept assistance with home tasks such as laundry, dishwashing, and meal preparation.
5. Feedings on a regular basis. Breastmilk supply is determined by “supply and demand.” If you feed your infant more frequently, your body will respond by producing more milk.
6. Make time for yourself. Taking time for yoga, walks, reading, meditation, and deep breathing can all assist to increase breast milk supply. This may seem impossible, but even 2 minutes of deep breathing or a 10-minute walk will drastically reduce your stress levels.
The Bottom Line?
Prioritise diet, hydration, and self-care to ensure that you can offer appropriate sustenance for both your baby and yourself. But there’s no need to add stress or strive for perfection when it comes to breastfeeding or any other element of motherhood!