Last Updated on February 8, 2023 by Jada Glover
If you’re struggling with energy as a breastfeeding mother, you’re not alone! This is a common complaint among mamas in their early postpartum period and beyond. It can come and go as well- some days you may feel more energetic than others. The best way to increase your energy as you breastfeed is to eat a diet full of nutrients. Yep, that’s right! Think of your body as a machine, that is consuming A LOT of fuel to help it make the product (your milk!). The better the fuel and the more efficient the fuel, the better it will perform right?
Why You Want to Include More Nutrients in Your Milk
First, let’s discuss why you want to include more nutrients in your diet. The foods you eat and the nutrients from those foods pass through your digestive tract to your baby through your milk. Thus, it does in fact affect your breastmilk composition. However, no matter what kind of diet you are consuming, breastmilk is still the best choice for your baby.
Your body will find a way to give your baby what it needs—but why not have the BEST possible milk? That’s where more nutrients come into play. So try to include foods rich in color, that have lots of vitamins and minerals. Nutrients like vitamin a, vitamin C, B vitamins, healthy fats like Omega three, all of those do pass through your breast milk to your baby. Research shows that nursing mothers who consume an adequate amount of Omega three fatty acids are less likely to experience postpartum depression.
The more of these you can consume in your daily routine, the more energy you’ll have and the better you’ll feel! So other reasons why we want to include more healthy nutrients in our food.
Benefits of Good Nutrition
Our diets are directly linked to how we feel, and that means more energy, balanced mood, and better quality sleep when we fuel it well. You can even lose unwanted baby weight—you’d be surprised how filling and satisfying nutrient-dense foods are! Exposing your baby to different tastes through your milk also helps them become familiar with those tastes when you introduce complementary solid foods. These are just a few of the amazing health benefits of adding more healthy foods and healthy nutrients into your diet, which will in turn mean more nutrients for you and your baby.
3 Ways to Add More Nutrients in Your Diet (and Breastmilk)
So this is the important part…the actionable steps to get more healthy nutrients into your breastmilk! Here are three easy ways I put together to help you!
- Snack on more fruits and vegetables. So even if you’re a grazer who likes to eat throughout the day, you can snack on these. Try to eat at least nine different servings of fruits and vegetables per day. When possible, opt for whole foods. So, for example, eat a fresh apple instead of drinking apple juice or apple sauce, because there are more bioavailable nutrients in that fresh apple than there will be an anything processed that contains apple.
Bioavailability means that your body is able to process those nutrients easier and better so you get more of them. And we want to make the food we eat count, right? Including more whole foods in your diet like fruits and vegetables (even when cooked) will help that as well.
- Increase your consumption of healthy fats. I mentioned a few of the health benefits earlier, so include more healthy fats like salmon and nuts while avoiding more junkier fats like cookies, chips, and candy. Fats aren’t bad! We just want to ensure we are eating the right kinds of fats. The quality of fats does change in our breastmilk. The quantity will be based on whatever your baby needs during that time.
- Avoid highly processed white flour. This is found in many breads, cakes, cookies, pasta, and other things. When you think of your main junk foods, most of those are made with white flour and just a little bit of science for you…white flour is made of the endosperm part of the kernel, which only provides carbohydrates and a little bit of protein. The most nutritious parts of the whole wheat kernel, the bran, and the germ are stripped away in the process of attaining this, which reduces the nutrient content.
In lieu of white flour, opt for 100% whole grain, wheat flour, or even healthier options like barley and brown rice. These are great options if you’re looking for whole-grain options to include in your diet to give you more energy as a breastfeeding mother!
Sample Meal to Get More Energy as a Breastfeeding Mother
I wanted to also share what I may eat in a typical day that is easy and nutritious at the same time. I think examples also help!
For lunch, I had half an avocado. I literally just slice it in half, take the seed out, and then just sprinkle a little bit of Himalayan salt on there, which helps with electrolyte balance. I just scoop it out of the half I eat, and save the other half for later! You can even find avocado savers that prevent it from browning in the refrigerator!
I also had a couple of slices of cheese and Mary’s Gone Crackers, one serving of crackers, which was roughly 12 crackers. I don’t typically count crackers out, but I try my best not to eat from the box to limit my portion size. Always listen to your body, especially when you’re breastfeeding. You do require extra calories depending on your stage of breastfeeding and how often you’re nursing your baby or pumping. If you want more nutrition information, be sure to check out my Postpartum Weight Loss Program for Breastfeeding Moms.
Plus, I had about a ½ cup of plain, whole milk, Greek yogurt. I dipped the crackers in the yogurt and put the cheese on the crackers.
Longterm Benefits of Good Nutrition
So just a few ideas for you, that are easy peasy! Snack plates are typically my “go-to” option when I need a quick meal that is nutritious and satisfying. You can save time and energy in the kitchen, but still, pick the foods that are better for your body, and thus your milk and baby!
Small changes in your diet over time too, can really impact your health long-term. When you feed your body better, it’s going to perform better- which means more energy as a breastfeeding mama, and more energy to play with your baby! Comment below and let me know what your biggest takeaway was from this, or if you have any questions about what I covered in this post.