What you eat when you’re breastfeeding can affect your body and your growing baby. When you eat wholesome foods, it helps to replace the nutrients that your body loses through breastfeeding.
When you’re a mom, whether you have a newborn or toddler, it can get busy and tiring. When it comes to eating healthfully and taking care of yourself, that can be challenging too. Take it easy. You can only do the best that you can.
If you do take the time to nourish and care for yourself, which we highly recommend, you may feel more energized and stronger which can benefit both you and your baby too. Also, while you are on this journey, don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate your body and show it some much-needed love. Here are 8 ways to stay nourished and show your body love while breastfeeding.
1. Find an eating routine that works for you and your baby.
Nutrition is so vital for a nursing mom! Stock up on healthy freezer meals. Make a big grocery shopping list to fill your pantry up. Ready-to-go meals or quick and simple recipes are perfect for busy, breastfeeding mamas. Find a plan that works for you! Go for a variety of foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains. Include legumes, seeds, and nuts into your eating routine. They are nutrient-dense and provide vital nutrients you and your baby need.
Breastfeeding mamas do have increased nutrient needs, but every woman is different, and your energy needs will change during your unique breastfeeding journey. The amount of food you require will depend on your baby’s age, size, and appetite, as well as your nutritional and health needs. For example, how active you are, and factors such as whether your baby is exclusively breastfed or not, or if you’re feeding one baby, twins, or multiples.
Don’t compare your eating routine to other mamas eating routines. Your journey is a very unique one and your needs differ too based on your body and lifestyle. Do what is best for you and your baby. Eat what you love while monitoring your baby’s response to various foods. For example, monitor the baby’s poop, skin, etc. for any new changes and inform a healthcare provider as needed for better support.
2. Do something that makes you feel good! Enjoy some me-time.
Finding time to do the things you love can be difficult, especially as a mom. Do your best to find ways to self-care. What does it look like to you? Whether it’s listening to music or a podcast, lighting a candle, going on a 10-minute walk, or trying a new face mask, participate in an activity that makes you feel good while putting you at ease!
3. Honor your cravings, whatever that looks like to you.
Restriction and deprivation eventually may lead to overeating, which is followed by guilt and more restriction which then becomes a vicious cycle. So, if you are having a craving, honor it. Take a moment to ask yourself what you are hungry for and go for it. It’s will be worth it. Your quality of life matters, too. So yes, get some ice cream and live your best life.
4. Take your supplement if recommended by your doctor/dietitian.
Moms who have just given birth need good nutrition to support their healing and recovery. Breastfeeding women have increased nutrient needs to support themselves and the baby too. Women who do not get enough of the essential nutrients needed postpartum, may need to take a supplement to ensure optimal nutrition. A doctor and dietitian may help moms determine which high-quality supplement to take after completing a full assessment.
5. Rest when you can
It’s not always easy to get good quality rest with a baby and besides, every mom’s lifestyle looks different. What may work for one, may not work for another. Here are a few tips that may help: Sleep when the baby sleeps, try a sleepy-time tea or foods that are high in melatonin (may help with sleep quality) like cherries, don’t hesitate to seek help from trusted family and loved ones to take on some home activities while you rest. make a realistic plan, if you are able to.
6. Keep delish snacks on hand at all times to stay energized
Breastfeeding requires work and may leave you tired and drained. Chowing down on wholesome snacks throughout the day in between meals is a great way to satisfy your appetite and keep your energy and sugar levels well-balanced. Eating a variety of nutritious whole foods will also help you stay well. Go for snacks that are super easy to prepare with minimal preparation. Snacks don’t have to be boring! Go for sweet and crunchy, colorful and flavorful. Get creative.
7. Stay hydrated!
Breast milk is made mostly of water! And, breastfeeding—specifically, the let-down reflex (an automatic natural reaction that happens in your body that allows your breast milk to flow out of your breasts to your baby) can make you feel thirsty. So, you need to drink plenty of fluids. Not drinking enough fluids can lead to constipation and dehydration. Both of which are no fun at all. Can you relate? Water isn’t the only thing that can keep you hydrated, go for fruits and vegetables with a high water content like cucumbers or make a smoothie. Get creative and add herbs and spices to your beverages too.
8.Talk nice! You are doing great mama.
You should be proud of yourself each and every day of your breastfeeding journey. Take a moment each day to talk nice! Say great things about yourself. Give yourself credit, you are doing such an amazing job. Here are two to get you started. 1. My body is amazing and wonderful, and I love all the things it can do. 2. My breast milk continuously adapts as my baby grows to meet his or her changing nutritional needs. What would be another one? Share in the comments below.
For individualized breastfeeding nutritional support, please seek assistance from your personal Pediatrician. Based on your needs you may be referred to a dietitian specialized in postpartum nutrition. Also, reach out to a lactation consultant if and when experiencing breastfeeding challenges.