If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you may already know what’s required to keep your brain and body functioning while you pass along all those nutrients to your new bundle of joy.
Or maybe you need to gather more ideas to see what you can insert in your routine.
Either way, welcome!
But, first things first. Are you sitting down with your feet up?
Is your spouse, partner, friend, older child or complete stranger massaging said feet? Are they bringing you a glass of water and a plate of protein?
Self-care while carrying around a small creature can be a little easier if it’s a team effort.
There’s a reason the idiom “it takes a village” has travelled across continents to reach the exasperated ears of child-rearers everywhere, and that’s because *drumroll please* it’s true.
Pregnancy and parenthood can take its toll, so don’t shy away from asking for help.
However, it might land on you to do the research for what to include or avoid in your diet. Not only must you ingest all the right stuff while the little one grows in utero, but you need to stay as strong and healthy as you can once the baby is born and begins breastfeeding. Yes, it’s a big job, and that’s why Mother Nature put a woman like you in charge.
Here are a just few things to focus on when considering the best breast-feeding diet:
1. Veg out!
As with most healthy diets, the best breastfeeding diets should include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are filled with free-radical fighting antioxidants and the vitamins necessary for replenishing the nutrients your body needs to make breastmilk.
Plus, they’re tasty and relatively convenient, which is a definite pro when you’re balancing a baby, laundry, work, that podcast you just started, and a million other things that will have to wait.
If you’re not a person who just bites into raw fruits and veggies, see if someone will chop them up for you or find a free moment to do it yourself (spoiler alert: you don’t have any free time, but you’ll find a way!). Squeeze lemon or pour orange juice over chopped-up fruit to keep it fresh, and add granola on top for a little crunch.
2. Great grains of farro!
Whether it’s beans, barley, or quinoa, keeping grains in the mix will boost your intake of vitamin B and fill you up with much needed fiber.
Fiber aids in digestion but also packs in the protein and steadies your blood sugar levels.
Oats are optimal for daily consumption and they’re high in iron. Beans are also a big winner. Try making yourself a mild chili with a variety of beans (and meat, if you like) in the slow cooker and consume what you want throughout the week. Or if you’re breastfeeding during the warmer months, add some chickpeas or cannellini beans to your salad.
3. Go Fish!
Fish is fabulous for breastfeeding mothers since it has vitamin D, protein, and is low in saturated fat.
In addition to being a superb source of protein, salmon boasts vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which may help with postpartum depression.
One concern you may have with seafood is the mercury content, so you will want to avoid larger fish such as shark and swordfish, and stick to choices like catfish, canned light tuna, seabass, and whitefish.
Don’t clam up! Open wide and go fish!
4. Where’s the beef?
It’s got zinc, iron, and B vitamins, all of which work to keep your body functioning at full speed. And energy, as you may have noticed, is something in short supply.
5. Ah, nuts!
It’s hard to find a more convenient, crunchy, craving-killing snack than nuts. Keep a jar at the ready wherever you breastfeed your baby, and as long as you have lots of water, you’re all set!
Speaking of water...“water is life” is another idiom you’ll want to remember during this time, so before you sit down to breastfeed, make sure you have a sufficient supply of it.
We weren’t kidding about getting friends and family involved when it comes to keeping on top of your food and beverage needs, so don’t be shy about shouting out your need for a snack while you provide life-sustaining milk to your little one.
And if no one has reminded you recently, you’re doing a great job, and yes, it gets easier.
Then easier, then a little harder again, then easier...Written by Peachymama writer in residence, Shannon Perez