When I was pregnant with my first baby, I thought breastfeeding would be a breeze. I mean, I jumped from a size 32D to a 36F in a matter of months! It seemed like I possessed the necessary “tools” to make it work.
Feel free to laugh at that naïve logic.
But seriously, everyone told me breastfeeding was “the most natural thing” you could do as a mother, so I expected it to be easy. Well, it wasn’t. It was painful and complicated and overwhelming. For the first few weeks of my life as a new mom, my boobs were my worst enemy. They ached, they leaked and they were enormous.
As those issues subsided, the act of breastfeeding got easier. What I didn’t know was if I had paid more attention to getting the right nutrients in my diet, I would’ve probably had an easier time keeping my milk up.
Here’s what you need if you’re a breastfeeding mama:
Protein does a great job of repairing, building and maintaining body tissue, so it’s an important part of a healthy diet, especially while you’re breastfeeding.
Lean meat, poultry, fish (low in mercury), beans and eggs are easy to incorporate into your diet. Plus, these foods are typically low on the allergen scale, so they are less likely to cause your baby tummy discomfort.
Iron is important for maintaining and boosting your energy levels, because—let’s face it—breastfeeding a newborn is like running a marathon. When it comes to absorbing iron it is most easily done by pairing the right foods together. For example, foods that are rich in vitamin C enhance the absorption process, so eating lean meat and spinach is a good combination. If you take an iron supplement, drink it with a glass of orange juice (also high in vitamin C).
Did you know moms potentially lose 3-5% of bone mass during breastfeeding? That’s because you have to replenish the calcium you lose to produce breast milk. Depending on your age, the recommended dose of calcium is 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams per day, which is the equivalent of drinking one 8oz glass of milk.
If you don’t like milk, you can get calcium in foods like cheese and yogurt, calcium-fortified juice, tofu, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, broccoli, or dried beans.
Just like prenatal vitamins are formulated for what your body needs during pregnancy, breastfeeding supplements are formulated to support your lactation supply.
Herbs called galactagogues are thought to increase breast milk production. Some of the most common ones are fenugreek, blessed thistle and alfalfa. Of course, they are not regulated by the FDA and there may be potential side effects, so chat with your OBGYN if you have questions about supplements.
Figuring Out Foods
You may discover that certain foods you eat give your baby tummy issues. If so, this is totally normal and it tends to resolve itself as your baby’s digestive system matures.
The biggest culprits for causing your baby stomach discomfort during breastfeeding are things like chocolate, dairy, citrus fruits, peanuts, garlic and wheat.
I know that sounds like a contradiction because I just mentioned how important it is to get enough calcium and now I’m saying dairy may be a breastfeeding no-no. It just depends on how your baby reacts. If dairy does cause your baby to be extra fussy or spit up more than usual, then try a calcium supplement instead.
Do you have breastfeeding advice for new moms? Share it with us in the comments section on our Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® Facebook page.