A mom’s breastmilk is the best nutrition she can give her baby, no matter what she eats, even if her diet is poor or lacks nutrients. However, proper nutrition has so many amazing benefits. A breastfeeding meal plan just means eating a diet rich in whole, real foods. That’s it, mama! Instead of a special diet, it’s better to keep it simple and use the tips that follow to ensure you’re getting a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods.
Why would you want to follow a breastfeeding meal plan?
There are so many benefits to a nourished mother, which I outline below. Sometimes you may have to think of it as a special diet, but really, it’s just a diet rich in whole foods so you can optimize your health, and the nutrition you’re giving your baby.
Benefits of a nourished mother include:
• healing faster postpartum
• better able to care for and play with her baby
• more energy and less exhaustion
• improved mood
• better sleep
• less food cravings
• less fussy baby
• easier to identify problem foods
• supports healthy milk production in general.
When your body is properly fueled and can function well, you will be able to perform well, and that includes making the best breastmilk possible for your baby. A healthy and diverse diet can boost your milk supply with lots of key nutrients your baby needs. Some nutrients can pass through to your breastmilk. So if you eat foods rich in nutrients, your baby will get a boost from the nutrients in the milk.
Nutrients that Pass Through Your Breastmilk
• Vitamin D
• Vitamin K
• Vitamin A
• B Vitamins
• Fatty Acids (Omegas)
• The Amino Acids
• Phytonutrients for oxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits
• Probiotics for gut health
The nutrients that aren’t as reliant on your diet include:
In the case of the latter nutrients, your maternal stores will come into play if you’re not getting enough of these nutrients through the food you’re eating because your baby still needs these.
Nutrition for Healing
Nutrition also greatly affects your body’s ability to heal itself in the healing process after giving birth. Healing whole foods will help prevent post-partum disorders like depression and anxiety and help a mom heal a lot faster. A study conducted on nourished mothers found that nourished mothers are better able to care for their baby and more likely to play with their baby than an undernourished mother.
Keep it Simple in a Breastfeeding Meal Plan
So I encourage you to keep it simple, add more nutrients into your meals through real foods that are not processed. Consume enough calories for milk production. Allow between 250-500 extra calories per day, depending on how often you’re breastfeeding, more if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, and less if you’re partially breastfeeding. Don’t go on crash diets as that can affect supply and cause the mother’s body to release toxins into her bloodstream which is how her milk is made. Keep calories at least 1,800-2,000 if not more based on her body type, how often she’s breastfeeding, and activity level.
What Foods Do You Need to Avoid in a Breastfeeding Meal Plan?
Avoiding foods will be dependent on you as the breastfeeding mother, and your baby, but generally speaking, no foods should be avoided if you’re eating a nutrient-dense diet with variety. If your baby is experiencing allergic reaction type symptoms, I would suggest you start keeping a food journal to understand what is causing the reaction. This journaling will help you identify the problem foods so you can experiment with elimination and reintroduction at a later time. No need to live your life doubting all the foods you’re eating with every bite.
Common Symptoms of a Baby with Food Sensitivities/Allergies
▹ Sore bottom
▹ Diaper rash
▹ Runny nose
▹ Weeping eyes
▹ Body rash
▹ Excessive crying, inconsolable
▹ Sleepless Baby
▹ Overly fussy
▹ Excessively gassy without relief
Family History of Food Allergies
If there is a history of food sensitivities or allergies in the family, she may want to avoid that food until the baby is six months old. At this point, the baby’s digestive system is a little more mature and may be better able to tolerate it or you could test the food. Avoiding foods altogether with no exposure could lead to allergies later on so it’s best only to avoid if necessary. Also, exposure to the food tastes through breastmilk helps baby’s get used to the various types of tastes.
Common Food Allergens include:
• Cow’s Milk/Dairy
If a baby is colicky or overly fussy, avoiding dairy, caffeine, and some cruciferous vegetables could minimize the effects on the baby as well.
Some herbs like sage, peppermint, rosemary, and thyme can cause a decrease in supply and should be avoided in large quantities.
What are the key things to eat or drink to boost supply?
Like I’ve mentioned, a breastfeeding meal plan doesn’t mean a special diet, it just means adding more nutrient-dense foods to your diet. Eating foods that are rich in nutrients is the best advice when it comes to nutrition and promoting a healthy milk supply. Most of the lactogenic foods are everyday foods that you can cook and enjoy with their families.
These foods include:
• Whole Grains and Flours
• Spices, Herbs, and Yeasts
• Fruits and Vegetables
• Eggs and Dairy: eggs, full-fat Greek yogurt (low or no sugar), whole milk, butter, and cream
• Beans and Pulses
• Fats and Sweeteners: extra-virgin coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, molasses, coconut sugar, dates
• Protein: organically raised or wild-caught fish and meat
Your body needs water for its bodily functions to perform well, whether you’re breastfeeding or not. So, I recommend you drink to thirst but at least half their body weight in ounces per day. Drinking water will help ensure your body is adequately hydrated so all their cells can function properly.
There are a lot of commercial products put there, and if you want to indulge, and that makes them feel less stressed, then go for it. But in general, a diet rich in whole foods and quality water will promote a healthy milk supply.
What if you don’t have enough milk?
Many moms have a fear of not producing enough milk for their baby, and a lot of it stems from not knowing what to look for in terms of a healthy, thriving baby. Instead of a breastfeeding meal plan, focus on the signs that indicate your baby is healthy and thriving. I don’t feel that there’s enough education before mothers giving birth. There is so much knowledge and confidence that can be instilled before your baby arrives.
You may think they don’t have enough of a milk supply after your baby arrives because of different signs you may see like the baby is eating a lot, your breasts aren’t engorged anymore, or you don’t feel a milk letdown. As long as you are nursing on demand, at least 8-12 times in 24 hours, and your baby is transferring milk well, seems satisfied, everything is probably going just the way it should. New moms generally don’t expect babies to eat as much as they do. You may be surprised by this too. So, giving you the confidence to know you are doing everything right can help you continue to breastfeed, especially on the hard days.
You should also use their instincts to look for a satisfied baby, appropriate weight gain for their age and measurements, and adequate poo and pee diapers. Remember, go back to the basics when in doubt.
Tips for Starting Solids
When your baby starts eating solid foods, your supply may decrease slightly because your baby is eating more solid foods in addition to milk. Keep offering to breastfeed though. You should wait until your baby is at least six months old and to show signs of readiness. Their digestive system is not mature enough to handle food before that. They should be sitting up, interested in you eating, grabbing for your utensils and food.
You can start by offering them very small portions in size and shape the baby can easily pick up. Moms can quarter or cut in half small fruits like grapes and blueberries.
Offer different foods often so they are exposed to a variety and can experiment with different tastes and textures. They may not like a food one day and like it the next. The key is constant exposure. Before one-year-old, your baby is still relying on breast milk for the majority of their nutritional needs. Nurse or offer a bottle of breastmilk first and then offer solids. After one-year, breastmilk comes after offering them food. All babies are different in terms of when they get interested. If you’re concerned they aren’t, just chat with your pediatrician about it. Our son was a late bloomer in this regard, but he is almost two now and eats well.
Tips to Promote a Healthy Milk Supply
Stress and anxiety can sometimes inhibit milk supply. It’s important for you to enjoy this time with your baby and reduce as many stressors as possible. Read my article on 6 Tips for Breastfeeding Success.
1. Nourish yourself properly for the fastest recovery possible.
2. Eat nutrient-dense food for optimal recovery and health.
3. Practice self-love with affirmations, a healthy mindset, and doing kind things for yourself.
4. Buy yourself something.
5. Make time for quiet time and meditation
Contact me today if you want me to calculate your estimated calories to maintain your milk supply and lose weight!