Nutrition When Breastfeeding and Post-Birth - Part A
Nutrition while breastfeeding is a topic that concerns many mothers: What foods are beneficial to you after giving birth? Are there foods that increase milk production? What foods should you avoid?
The information lies in our past. Throughout history, women around the world always searched for food items that would be most beneficial to them while breastfeeding. Special breastfeeding diets that outline correct nutrition, have been handed down from generation to generation. Mythological fertility goddesses were commonly associated with almonds, barley, coconut, lotus flowers, and many other plants used by breastfeeding women in order to increase their milk supply.
Today, women are interested in that same ancient knowledge and often want to know what foods and spices are beneficial to their breastmilk. These are called lactogenic foods, meaning they have lactation-promoting properties. In this section of the article we will try to provide a recommended menu for breastfeeding mothers, including comprehensive information and a list of known food and plants that can assist breastfeeding mothers.
Part A – An Initial Breastfeeding Diet – Lactogenic Food (Improves Milk Supply) and Recommendations for New Mothers.
There are several different ways to start building up your breastmilk supply in the first few weeks after birth:
- Eat well and get enough calories per day. Eat the amounts that your body is used to - now is not the time to start a new diet.
- Drink a lot, but not too much – between 1.5-2.5 liters per day. Find the amount that makes you feel good, not thirsty or uncomfortable.
- Eat at least one balanced meal per day, which includes protein, a green salad, grains such as rice, and steamed or boiled vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots, and fennel.
- Lightly spice your food with lactogenic spices, such as dill, caraway, basil, and garlic. Sea salt is also acceptable.
- Avoid foods that are difficult to digest, such as fried or high-fat foods.
- Eat probiotic yogurt to maintain your body's good bacteria and to avoid stomach problems.
- Try to eat healthy fats such as butter and olive oil.
- Recommended plants to eat immediately post-birth include nettle, which helps recoup blood lost during delivery, turmeric to prevent mastitis, and grains that are known to soothe the stomach and assist with exhaustion. These plants can also help increase your milk supply.
- If you lost a lot of blood during childbirth, avoid ginger for several weeks.
What is a Recommended Serving Size?
Every woman has different needs regarding the amount of lactogenic foods and plants. Many mothers can produce breastmilk without any difficulty and without taking supplements. However some women feel that they require large amounts of lactogenic foods over the course of several days to produce enough breastmilk.
A breastfeeding mother will accumulate first-hand knowledge and experience regarding her body and the types and amounts of foods that are beneficial for her.
It is important to take into account that if you do not have a problem producing breastmilk and you are still eating large amounts of food that promote breastmilk production, you can potentially cause congestion and even blockages due to large amounts of accumulated breastmilk in your ducts, which could lead to mastitis. It may also increase your natural letdown reflex, making it more difficult for your baby to nurse. Listen to your body, use these plants and supplements wisely, and reduce the amount as needed or if any problems arise.
This article does not constitute medical advice and it is recommended to speak with a nutrition specialist.