My last blog post went into detail about all of the macro and micronutrients that breastfeeding mothers need. Speaking from experience, I know first hand how hard it can be to eat a nutrient-dense diet which nourishes your body through lactation. If you had asked me about my eating habits at any point in my nursing journey, my answer would have been the same. I tried to eat healthily, but I simply didn't feel like I had the time to make three perfectly balanced, nutritious meals a day. Whilst this would be ideal, for most of us it is u realistic and so this post is about achievable swaps that you can make to nourish your breastfeeding body from the inside, out.
I recently worked with a nutritionist and naturopath in an attempt to boost my mood and help me look after myself as I weaned my son off the breast. Her advice was fantastic and highly effective and much of it centered around getting enough protein. For as long as you are breastfeeding, your blood sugar levels drop each time that you nurse your little one. This can result in energy slumps and even dizziness and faintest throughout the day (& night). Having protein with every meal, eating it first and snacking on protein rich foods in between meals can help to prevent dramatic fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. You need not cut out biscuits completely - just have a bowl a Greek yoghurt or a handful of almonds beforehand!
When it comes to staying hydrated, caffeine is 100% allowed (and 100% necessary much of the time!). Wherever possible though, in order to improve your overall energy levels and regulate your cortisol levels, avoid drinking caffeinated drinks until at least two hours after waking. Start your day with water or herbal tea and stop drinking caffeinated drinks in the afternoon to prevent sleep disruption too.
Below is a 7 day meal planner designed specifically for breastfeeding mothers. Inspired by my consultations with nutritionists & naturopaths, it includes simple meal ideas which will leave you feeling fuller and more energized for longer. This meal planner is designed to support you, not stress you out! It is a great starting point if you want to eat well but you simply do not have the time or the headspace for rigorous meal planning. Here are a few notes on the meals:
• Greek yoghurt & cottage cheese are included as high-protein meals and snacks. Chia pudding is an excellent, high-protein vegan alternative.
• Chia seeds are small but mighty seeds which pack a nutritional punch. They are high in fiber, protein and omega 3, but they are very absorbent! Be sure to drink plenty of fluids alongside them to avoid constipation.
• The meat, fish & egg-based meals in this plan can be substituted with tofu, seitan &/or lentils.
• Pumpkin seeds are another great source of fiber, protein and importantly, magnesium. Stock up on them and sprinkle them on everything for a nutrient-dense addition to your meals.
• This meal planner includes 2 portions of oily fish - more than this is not recommended each week if you are breastfeeding.
I hope this cheat sheet helps you take care of yourself as a breastfeeding mother and that you notice the changes that I have in my energy levels. Let me know how it makes you feel at: firstname.lastname@example.org