New mothers need to be as well-nourished as their babies
New mums are often so caught up with the excitement of the moment and all the attention to the new baby that they sometimes overlook the importance of self-care and a super healthy diet. As a breastfeeding mother, your body is using a large amount of calories to make each ounce of milk. It’s vital to consume nutrient-dense foods that help refuel your body.
Breastfeeding mothers require a nutrient-rich mix of healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Here are 12 foods recommended by doctors and experts for new mums and women immigrants.
Avocados are a nutritional powerhouse for new and nursing moms. A common complaint is that moms are often very hungry due to the increased caloric demands of nursing, and they have very little time to prep their meals and eat.
Avocados are nearly 80 percent fat and help maintain a feeling of fullness in addition to providing your body with heart-healthy fats. Avocados are also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin K, folate, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Another powerhouse of nutrition, nuts are high in essential minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc as well as vitamin K and B vitamins. They’re also a healthy source of essential fatty acids and protein. Beyond their phenomenal nutritional makeup, nuts are regarded as lactogenic in many parts of the world (which means they might be foods that help produce breast milk).
- Beans and legumes
Beans and legumes are good sources of protein, vitamins, minerals, and phytoestrogens. Chickpeas have been used as a galactagogue (something that increases breast milk supply since the time of ancient Egypt. They’re a staple food in North African, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisine, making them one of the most highly accessible galactagogues.
Eating a variety of beans and legumes is good not only for your general health, but also for helping to ensure that you have a healthy milk supply.
- Whole grains
Brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and oatmeal are all complex carbohydrates, meaning they keep you feeling full longer, and you won’t get those energy dips you do with refined carbohydrates. Whole grain versions — are an important source of B minerals and fibre.
Fibre helps you feel full longer, keeps blood sugar levels steady and aids in digestion. Make oats a part of your diet every day. They are really rich in fiber and help in milk production.
- Green leafy vegetables
In Thailand, a mother’s first line of defence against low milk supply is the consumption of vegetables. They contain phytoestrogens, which have been shown to have a positive effect on milk production.
Consuming green leafy vegetables is great for your health and also helps to establish good eating habits for your baby to follow.
Your baby should grow up loving veggies, not candies and Big Macs.
- Red and orange root vegetables
While red and orange vegetables have yet to be studied specifically for their galactagogue properties, they have been used as lactogenic foods in many cultures around the world for hundreds of years. Red and orange root vegetables such as carrots and yams have also been used for generations in the traditional Chinese zuoyuezi diet.
Seeds are a nutritional gift! They are the very beginning of life for every plant on earth. They provide a concentrated source of all the nutrients found in the mature plant as well as the nutrients needed to grow the tiny seed into a beautiful blooming plant. Seeds are high in protein and essential minerals such as iron, zinc, and calcium, as well as healthy fats.
Like nuts, seeds are not clinically proven to have lactogenic properties, but they have been used for centuries to help breastfeeding mothers thanks to their high vitamin and mineral content.
- Sweet potatoes
Just one medium sweet potato meets the daily recommendation of vitamin A for breast-feeding moms. Vitamin A is important for vision, bone growth, immune function and cell specialization.
Your baby is dependent on your dietary intake to get the vitamin A required for growth and development. That’s another advantage of breastfeeding. Breast-fed babies are very rarely found to be deficient in vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of potassium too.
- Salmon and sardines
An excellent source of protein, salmon is rich in vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also one of only a few sources that have natural vitamin D, and many women have vitamin D deficiencies. B12 and omega-3 are thought to help ward off postpartum depression.
Salmon is great for breastfeeding moms because it contains large amounts of DHA, a type of fat important for the development of a baby’s nervous system. Both salmon and sardines can increase breast milk production.
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, but in order to unlock their benefits, they must be ground—whole flaxseeds can’t be digested in the body and are excreted unchanged.
Flax oil is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and has a sweet and light taste that pairs well with veggies and blends seamlessly into smoothies. The studied health benefits of flaxseeds are far-reaching.
We’ve told you that calcium is important. Get some of the required 1,000 mg a day from low-fat or Greek yogurt. It’s also a good source of protein. There are so many flavors available that you are sure to find ones you like.
Add fruit or granola for an even yummier yogurt. (Caution: If your baby has been diagnosed with milk protein intolerance, dairy products like yogurt should not be part of your diet.)
- Water. Water. Water
We saved the best for last. You must not forget this one more equally essential non-food addition to your diet. Keep a water bottle handy and drink it throughout the day.
Before you sit down to breastfeed, drink a glass of water. After you are done breastfeeding, drink a glass of water. Make water your first choice, but all non-caffeinated, unsweetened beverages are good too. Drinking sufficient water is so important for milk supply. Too little water also dehydrates you and makes you feel sluggish and slow.
Note to immigrant mums…and dads
Immigrant mums especially those who are used to getting a lot of domestic help back in their home countries have to quickly adjust to the new routine in Canada. They must also always remember to properly refuel their bodies. Dads should take note, and help out.
Most immigrants would have other choices of preferred foods after birth, based on their cultures and traditions. It’s absolutely fine to yield to your taste buds, but make sure you also load up on the nutritious essentials.
Then you can have the best of both worlds, for you and your most valuable new treasure.