Breast milk and nutrition
Ever wondered what you should be eating to make the best quality milk? Below we have outlined our key ways to boost the quality and quantity of your milk through eating well.
Increase your calories
Breastfeeding mothers should be consuming an extra 500 calories a day – more than in the final trimester. Don’t make these calories up with cakes, biscuits and crisps, as these are empty calories, delivering no nutritional benefits. Choose wholegrains, fruit and vegetables instead to boost the nutrient density of your diet. These nutrients will also be shared with your baby via your milk.
Eat three meals a day, plus a mid morning and mid afternoon snack, to keep your energy levels up and ensure you have enough energy to produce a good supply of milk.
Eat what you need
Increase your protein intake (meat, fish, eggs, beans, chickpeas, lentils, soya, dairy products, nuts and seeds). One study has shown that increasing the amount of protein in the diet increased milk supply and consequently babies’ weight increased.
Eat oily fish regularly (or take flaxseed if you don’t eat fish) to ensure that your baby is getting an adequate supply of essential fats.
Make sure you get a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This means your diet will contain a good range of vitamins and minerals to pass on to your baby via your milk.
You should try to drink 3 litres of water a day to ensure that you are optimally hydrated.
Avoid certain foods
Try and avoid anything containing artificial sweeteners, colourings or preservatives, as these will pass via your milk to your baby, and their tiny liver will have to process them. The same is true for caffeine: avoid or restrict your intake of coffee, tea, cola and chocolate, as caffeine places a burden on the liver.
Whilst advice may vary, it is best to avoid alcohol, as it does pass directly to your baby and their livers are not ready to deal with this toxin.
Boost your milk supply
Before trying anything else ensure that you are adequately hydrated and nourished and that you are getting enough rest. Hard though this may be, it will be difficult for your body to produce a good milk supply if you are exhausted.
There are a number of natural remedies which are thought to increase milk supply. These include milk thistle or fenugreek herbal remedies and drinking fennel tea. Pukka herbs have a Motherkind baby tea which tastes delicious!
It is very difficult to get all the nutrients we need from our diet and when you are looking after a newborn baby. And we find that this becomes even more of a challenge. I would recommend that breastfeeding mothers take a breastfeeding specific multivitamin and mineral supplement. This ensures that they are getting adequate amounts of essential nutrients. Check out Wild Nutrition for food grown supplements.
AUTHOR: EMILY FAWELL
NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST, LONDON
Emily Fawell is a nutritional therapist and NLP practitioner at 4Well People. Emily offers one to one consultations in a family friendly clinic in West Ealing, London.