Eating for Breastfeeding and Weight loss
Reader Request: I find myself really confused around to what to eat for good milk production but also trying to loose the baby weight! At the moment I have about 10kg to loose but am so confused to what is a good balanced diet for me and baby to benefit! And I know for a fact there are a load of mommy's out there that have the exact same issues - Love feeding their babies but not in love of all those extra kilos! Would you share some ideas?
The beauty of feeding - the best food supply on the go - perfect down time after a day swimming in the islands
Breastfeeding is a full time job which takes commitment and energy; it is also an incredible bonding time with your baby. I breastfeed both my children for just over 2 years and feel it was the best possible start to great health that I could give them. Nutritious breast milk is proven to help fight disease, such as diabetes and leukemia. Asthma, respiratory infections and eczema rates are also reduced in breast fed babies.
Breast milk is the perfect food for your babies immature digestive system. It’s also great for the mother’s health because it’s linked to lowering risks of type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, breast cancer and postpartum depression.
Note: Like with all things in life sometimes even if you really want too things don't pan out for a mother to breastfeed their child - there are many things you can do to ensure your child thrives if you cannot breastfeeding but that will be for another blog.
EATING FOR HEALTH AND THE BEST BREAST MILK
The ideal diet for producing the best breast-milk isn’t complicated, there isn’t a magic eating plan that’s going to help you make better milk for baby. You’re body is designed to make the perfect food for your baby, no matter your diet. However, there are things that can pass through the breast-milk which can negatively impact you and your baby. If there's ever a time to go overboard on all things natural and preferably organic it's now.
A breastfeeding mum’s ideal eating plan mirrors a healthy diet that’s recommended for most adults
- based on a variety of wholefoods: quality fats and proteins, complex carbohydrates, fruits and
- ideally sourced locally and in-season
- incorporates multiple servings of fermented foods each day
- processed and packaged components in the diet are an absolute minimum
Here are some Practical Applications:
Loading up on healthy fats such as avocado, coconut milk, olive oil, activated nuts and seeds, nut butters, organic butter and omega 3’s from fish oil are vital for a baby’s brain and nervous system development. These fats are also sustaining to the mother and prevent reaching for quick processed carb fixes throughout the day to keep you going.
Incorporating a daily smoothie is a easy way to consume loads of nutrient dense foods and is fast to prepare. Here's a good example: ½ cup greens (kale, spinach, collards), 1 scoop of quality protein powder, 1/2 avocado & ½ cup of mixed frozen berries, ½ cup of either coconut milk, coconut water, water kefir and ½ of filtered water.
When you do have time to prepare a meal, always make multiple servings to ensure you have leftovers that can be refrigerated or frozen for additional meals. Slow cooked meats that are shredded, double of triple batches of roasted vegetables or salads are handy for fast food options. Bone broth should be a staple in everyone's house!
Make eggs your best friend - a hard boiled egg is an easy snack to carry with you rather than getting ravenous and reaching for quick sweet fixes to give you energy.
After working with a fair few mums with similar queries as the reader request and going through their daily and dietary habits the things I think are the main culprits behind sabotaging losing weight are:
1. Being weight focused - in my personal experience when a person is extremely focused on weight loss it seems a lot harder to move. Moving the focus to feeding yourself a nutrient rich diet which you know is not only going to benefit you but also nourish your beautiful baby, giving them the best start to a life of health often results in weight loss.
2. As the proverb goes, “It takes a village to raise a child”. You as the mama need to be healthy and happy so enlist the support of those around you. Often as woman it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone and you end up last in the line. Making it a priority for you to get some time to either catch up on sleep, do something you love, socialize, exercise but not catch up on loads of washing etc is really important for your ability to sustain wakeful nights and breastfeeding.
3. Making time to have breakfast everyday - a common theme I see is busy mums either sorting other kids out for school, kindy etc and not eating themselves till later in the morning and then being so ravenous they reach for any quick snack they can find. This kind of eating is not conductive to losing weight. At least boil an egg or 1/2 avocado with homemade pesto is a fast nourishing option.
4. I'm not the fun police but I do encourage avoiding caffeine, as it may potentially exhaust your already stressed adrenal glands (often the case if you are having a lot of wakeful nights with feeding) while suppressing your appetite at a time when you need to be consuming nutritious calories. Trace amounts of caffeine in your body it can impact your baby and depending on how sensitive your baby is to stimulants, you may have a hard time getting them to sleep. This, I speak from hard long experience. Find another drink you really enjoy while breastfeeding.
5. Being aware of what you put on your skin, what you drink and eat out of, what you cook in, what cleaning products you use are important way for you to reduce the amount of toxins you and your baby are exposed too. It amazes me every time how changing people to drinking out of glass bottles, avoiding foods from cans and plastics where possible, getting rid of non-stick pans and changing to cast iron or stainless steel and moving to natural oils, perfumes and cleaning products just how much it helps with weight reduction. If you are already following the food tips from above and not losing any weight, this is an area I strongly suggest you make some changes too.
6. Hydration is so important for you and milk production - drinking a glass of pure water i.e not tap water every time you feed is a good way to remember to keep hydration levels up (Pure one water available in New Plymouth is an awesome investment while breastfeeding)
Mistaking thirst for hunger is a common issue; so should be considered if you are not losing excess weight and are following the above principles.
7. Include some form of exercise as many days as possible - walking, yoga stretches at home - include your baby where you can, there's many exercise classes/groups that cater specifically for post pregnancy and often include your babies in the workout - fun for everyone!
8. Today, with the lack of minerals and vitamins that are in our food (due to depletion in the NZ soil, relying on supermarket fruit and vegetables that have often been in cool stores, or picked many days before you buy them) means that even when eating a clean diet rich in fruits, veggies, quality fats and protein your optimal daily intakes of vitamins, mineral and antioxidants are not met. Your baby will take what they need and leave you depleted so if you find yourself excessively tired, have had a previous child less than 4years apart supplementation should be considered at least for the short term, especially while your baby is relying on these nutrients also.
I personally took and would recommend a quality multi vitamin & mineral, omega fats, and a quality probiotic (If you would like recommendations of products please contact me).
9. In terms of milk production the biggest reason milk production depletes is STRESS. Management and perspective of stress is a area that needs addressing is you find you're milk supply is waning for no known reason. There are herbs and herbal teas available which promote milk production. Herbs that have been used throughout history include fennel, fenugreek, blessed thistle, ginger, anise and quite a few others. There are delicious teas breastfeeding teas available at most health stores if this appeals to you or can make your own flavour combo by combining your 2 TBS each of your favourite herbs and storing in a glass jar.
You can make tea using 2 tablespoons per tea cup. Pour boiling water over the tea herbs, and cover for 10 minutes and strain before drinking. Drink 3 cups per day.
If your feeling a bit overwhelmed with where to start my advice is to take one or two tips and incorporate them into your daily routine immediately. When you are comfortable with this new routine, include a couple more tips and continue building from there. It may take a few days or weeks and that’s totally fine as integrating too much too soon will work against you by adding additional stress. Be patient with yourself!