Breast milk has long been thought of as nature’s perfect food (SO TRUE!) but did you know that what you eat has an impact on the nutrients in your breast milk?
This post is full of nutrient-packed, easy to find whole foods to include in your diet while breastfeeding. Some of the foods on this list are thought to boost supply and others contain nutrients that pass into breast milk and are important for infant growth and development (and some offer both benefits!).
The basic principles of healthy eating while breastfeeding:
Make time to eat.
Eat a lot – best nutrition advice ever! You don’t have to worry about hitting a specific calorie amount, just avoid restriction/dieting and eat to satiety (for me, breastfeeding was a great lesson in intuitive eating).
Make it a goal to eat a huge variety of foods during pregnancy and while breastfeeding (exposure to a variety of flavors during pregnancy and through breast milk can impact flavor acceptance later in life. In other words, you may be less likely to end up with a picky eater!).
Keep a food log if baby is experiencing discomfort (gas, colic, fussiness) or if you notice a dip in supply.
Best foods for nursing moms:
Cold water fish – Salmon, skipjack tuna, sardines, anchovies, and herring to name a few. These fish are high in DHA and EPA: omega-3 fatty
Eggs – The yolks specifically are high in choline, a nutrient similar to a b vitamin that is crucial for baby’s brain development in pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Eggs are also high in protein and healthy fats, great for postpartum healing!
Vegetables – Veggies provide the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that women need in order to produce adequate breast milk. Mineral richness (especially calcium) is a common denominator in almost all milk boosting foods.
Dried fruits – Figs, dates, prunes, and apricots are rich in minerals and provide quick energy (pair with nuts to avoice blood sugar spikes!).
Coconut oil – Coconut oil contains Lauric acid which transfers to breast milk. Lauric acid is antimicrobial to offer immune system support for both mom and babe. This fat source also helps to keep us feeling full, something that is hard to accomplish with the hunger that only a breastfeeding mom knows!
Chicken and turkey – Contain the amino acid tryptophan, needed for serotonin + prolactin production (easy milk let-down). Oh and keep the skin on! It is rich in glycine: an amino acid used to build collagen needed for skin repair.
Oats and Barley – Rich in polysaccharides, long chain sugars that encourage prolactin production. Oats are also super easy to whip up one handed in those early days of newborn bliss. I actually found that I craved oats postpartum (topped with cream and berries).
Water – You may find your thirst is super intense during let-down (thanks to oxytocin release!), or maybe you’ve basically been constantly thirsty since having your little one. Definitely up your water and herbal tea game! Getting enough water is a crucial part of healing postpartum. It is a myth that drinking way over thirst will boost milk supply. In some cases over-hydration can actually cause a temporary dip in supply.
While this is just a small list of options, I hope it helps make it easier to come up with meal and snack ideas. Whipping up some lactation bars to have on hand at the beginning of each week was a lifesaver for me!
What are your go-to nursing snacks?!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Lactation Bars
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup milk, plus more if needed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Blend together oats, flax, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a food processor until evenly combined.
Pour into a large mixing bowl and add chocolate chips, coconut oil, and milk. Start with 1/3 cup milk and add a little more if too crumbly to form a ball.
Press mixture into a 9 x 9 baking pan and bake for about 10 minutes. Over baking makes them pretty crumbly, but still good!