Post-Pregnancy Health & Breastfeeding

{Breastfeeding}

A healthy diet while breastfeeding is very important. Not only does it directly affect the milk that nourishes your baby, it also promotes a healthy milk supply & helps your body bounce back to its pre-pregnancy weight. 
A healthy diet also supports your overall health and your immune system during the first months where you are likely to have your hands full and be extra tired. Several factors, including adequate sleep, hydration and healthy dietary fat can affect your milk supply within days. Aside from these there are also natural lactation boosting foods and herbal supplements that can help you establish and maintain a good milk supply quickly and in a completely natural and healthy way.

{Natural Solutions to Increasing Milk Supply}

  • Make sure you get enough to eat. You burn more energy while breastfeeding that you do during your 3rd trimester. Inadequate calories, caused by dieting too much too soon, can affect your milk supply negatively so make sure you get an additional 400-500 calories, which is typically what your body uses to produce milk. I remember how much my supply dropped after just a few days of not getting much to eat and it really does matter. Light exercising is a better way to speed up the metabolism – and it helps prevent postnatal depression too. Aim to get your extra calories from good fats such as avocado, coconut oil, nuts & seeds. Eating healthy fats will not impact your weight negatively, eating too much sugar and starchy carbohydrates will.
  • Herbal medicine – fenugreek & blessed thistle are known to increase a woman’s milk supply within 4-6 days – and it works! These herbs are also often found in lactation teas but I personally prefer capsules  or liquid herbs as they are typically stronger. In combination these worked wonders for me and the earlier post-partum you start taking them, the more effective they are. The only downside is the not-so-sexy maple syrup smell you’ll smell on your body after taking them for a few days. On the bright side, this typically also indicates that you’re taking enough. Talk to your health care professional about dosage and the best supplement (my doctor was very supportive of me using both these herbs to increase my supply).
  • Adequate sleep is important as the body needs rest. You may well find yourself shorter in supply after a tough couple of nights without much sleep, so make sure to rest as much as you can.
  • Water, water and more water. Drinking enough liquid is essential, as your body uses a lot of fluid to produce milk. I drank between 4-5 litres daily, but 12 x 8 fl oz glasses is the recommended amount. Coconut water is great too.
  • Healthy fats. Taking an extra healthy fat supplement, such as a good quality, cold pressed fish or flax oil, is a good way of ensuring your body has adequate essential fatty acids. Using extra virgin coconut oil for baking and frying is also great as coconut oil is very heat resistant and great for your overall health & wellbeing.
  • Make sure you get enough protein (about 1.5 gm per kilo body weight).
  • Include milk promoting foods (see below).

Milk producing foods, also known as galactogogues, are foods that are traditionally known and used to help promote milk production in women. Incorporating some, or all of these into your daily diet will likely help increase and maintain a healthy milk supply.

These foods include:

  • oats
  • flax seeds
  • brewers yeast and nutritional yeast
  • nuts & seeds
  • cumin
  • fennel
  • lentils
  • barley
  • extra virgin coconut oil
{Healthy Post-Pregnancy Eating Inspiration}
  • Smoothies were my go-to breakfast on busy mornings when I was hungry but didn’t have time to fix up a big breakfast. They’re quick and pack a good amount of nutrients. Add a big handful of spinach or kale, a little coconut or flax seed oil, oats or chia seeds and some frozen berries or banana for a delicious, energy boosting smoothie. Add a tsp or two of coconut oil or quarter of an avocado for a good quality fat.
  • Get yourself a big BPA-free water bottle or two. I found mine irreplaceable and used them all the time when I was out and at home.
  • Make a big batch of Healthy Breakfast Cookies or Almond Oat Scones. They are full of milk promoting oats, flax and healthy oils and are easy to eat and bring with you when you’re on-the-go.
  • When craving a sweet treat go for fresh blueberries or raspberries, both of which are full of fiber and antioxidants or eat a couple of Raw Chocolate Coconut Balls or a few squares of my homemade Healthy Sea Salt Chocolate. Both of these are sweet & chocolatey but without the refined sugar. If you can’t be bothered making any of these go for 85% dark chocolate which is lower in sugar and taste great.
  • Nut buttersNut Cheese and plain avocado are fabulous substitutes to dairy spreads. Not only are they full of protein, healthy fats, vitamins & minerals, they also help keep your blood sugar levels stabile, which is helpful for burning off the pregnancy kilos.
  • Keep an eye on your caffeine intake while breastfeeding since small amounts of caffeine will reach your breast milk and can result in fussiness and disrupted sleep. Stick to one cup a day, if at all.
  • Make a big batch of quinoa or lentil salad to keep in the fridge for times when hunger hits and you don’t have time to cook something. It is so great to have good, healthy foods readily available so you don’t end up snacking on sugar-laden foods, such as energy bars, protein bars and other convenient foods. Sure I had days when I didn’t leave the house and ended up eating energy bars for lunch, but being prepared makes eating healthy so much easier – and you’ll feel so much better for it.
  • Hummus makes a healthy and satisfying snack and can be used as a spread or as a dip for veggies. It is easy to make and keeps well in the fridge. Check out my Creamy Hummus or my bean-free Vegetable Hummus for two delicious and healthy options.
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