Fabulous Foods for Breast Feeding…
1st August 2013
In honour of World Breast Feeding Week (1st – 7th August 2013) I thought I’d share an article I wrote for the Brentwood NCT newsletter last year…..
Fabulous Foods for Breast Feeding
I hope you enjoyed last quarter’s pregnancy food ‘myth buster’, this time I’m going to be focusing on breastfeeding – in particular where those extra calories should come from.
Where to get those extra calories from – The reason breast feeding helps to shed the pregnancy weight is because the calories from fat stores are used to produce breast milk. Breast feeding uses up to 500 calories per day – that’s only one slice of Costa carrot cake! However, if you get into the habit of eating sugary and fatty foods all the time, you won’t lose that weight. It also means you’ll have to change your diet when you stop feeding or the pounds will pile on. And that’s not the mention the potential long term health concerns with such a diet! I’m not saying don’t enjoy the occasional slice of Victoria sponge (delish!) but don’t make it a daily occurrence or you won’t lose that baby weight.
Ideally you want to eat three meals and two healthy snacks each day, but if your routine is a bit up in the air then don’t worry, just make sure you’re having something nutrient dense little and often. Always try to include protein in each meal or snack (plant proteins are just as good as meat and dairy). And make sure you always have some water to hand as the hormones released when breast feeding make you even thirstier than normal. And don’t forget to have salad/veg/fruit with each meal.
Galactagogues – The use of natural products believed to be able of increasing milk production has a long history. The most frequently used products include fenugreek, galega, and Mary’s thistle. Anise, basil, fennel, mauve, verbena, cumin, grape, and coffee have also been traditionally used. However, the research in this area is lacking, especially when it comes to the effects on the baby and you are much better off speaking to your health visitor if you have any concerns in this area.
Vitamin D – You will need to supplement with at least 10mcg per day (as per NHS recommendations) and the best way is as part of a good quality multivitamin and mineral product. Up 70% of northern Europeans are deficient (see my blog about vitamin D) so it’s essential that you follow the advice on this one.
Oily Fish – The omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish are essential for the body and are passed on to your baby in breast milk, helping with brain development. Aim for two portions per week but avoid the big fish like shark, swordfish and marlin as these can be high in toxins. If you don’t like oily fish consider a good quality fish oil supplement but speak with a nutritionist to ensure you buy a product with low toxins.
Organic/toxins – It’s a good idea to reduce your toxic load when breast feeding to avoid passing toxins onto your baby. Ways to do this are to drink filtered water, choose organic if possible and always wash fruit and veg (ideally in Veggie Wash) before eating. Only take medications that are advised by your G.P.
Alcohol – Despite what some people may tell you the research suggests that drinking alcohol reduces the production of breast milk. It also alters the flavour so babies often feed for less time, meaning your baby could consume 20% less milk in the 4 hours after drinking. Less than 2% of alcohol consumed reaches Mother’s milk but a baby is only tiny (remember a large glass of wine can contain up to 3 units). Peak levels will be reached within 30 minutes to 1 hours of drinking and you should use previously expressed milk for 4 hours after consuming alcohol (and stick to 1-2 units only).
Caffeine – Drink caffeinated drinks occasionally, not every day or you may have a very ‘wired’ baby! Drink herbal teas instead and go easy on the chocolate as this also contains caffeine!