Eating Healthy While Breastfeeding
Guest writer Jane Durst-Pulkys, Clinical and Holistic Nutritionist, Author, Educator, and Life Coach
shares tips on eating healthy as you prepare for baby’s arrival.
So much must happen inside our bodies before the love hormone oxytocin, is released into our blood stream once our baby is born. It happens fast and your body and the baby know exactly what to do. There truly is no greater feeling, to be able to nourish your baby the way nature intended. This is a time in a woman’s life that nutrition before and after your baby is born can make the difference between sickness and vibrant health. Either way you will gain the weight, but the goal is not just to gain the weight, the goal is to have the healthiest baby possible, and it all starts with what we eat.
The growing fetus takes priority for the nutritional elements in your body and the baby will continue to grow even if we don’t provide a healthy, nourishing diet and that is why nutrition is paramount. Basically, that means if you do not provide the nutrients the baby will take it from your blood or bones. We can buy any type of food today and at any time of the day. With our busy schedules and a trust in the food industries with their industrial magic, it can be hard to know what is good for us and what is not. I believe as a Nutritionist there are two types of food, alive and dead, bright coloured, or beige, full of water or lacking, loaded with phytonutrients or chemicals, go bad quickly or can stay in your knapsack for years, constipate or make us regular and affect our hormones and endocrine system, put weight on too fast or slowly. It is all in our hands and does not have to be hard or expensive.
During pregnancy we want to make sure that we consume whole foods and stay away from fast, frozen, fried, junk and processed foods. I call these the Five new food groups!!! What you want to focus on is whole foods, foods that don’t have to pass a chemistry lab on the way to your mouth. Besides more food and consuming more calories pregnant women need to eat nearly twice as much protein then normal. This helps with tissue growth of the fetus and the new tissues that mom is making. Fish, eggs, meats, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy and poultry are great examples.
Many women suffer from morning sickness and nausea, and I suffered terribly from it and wished that I knew then what I know now as each of my three pregnancies I had it from day one to the day I delivered. Morning sickness is often due to a sluggish liver which is unable to sufficiently detoxify the body's hormones and toxins. Making some dietary changes is the best way to handle it. Supplementing with B vitamins especially B6 is particularly good for nausea and vomiting. A diet rich in whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and one hundred percent rye is great. Beef, fish, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes are loaded with B6.
Let’s not forget also how important water and exercise are as well. Staying active helps to reduce those backaches, constipation, bloating, swelling as well as it releases our feel-good hormone serotonin. Water helps to hydrate and eliminate toxins, helps digestion, and makes up the amniotic fluid around the baby.
Once our baby arrives our nutrition remains of utmost important. The quality of breast milk depends on the quality of the mother’s diet. Your infant now requires 2-3 ounces of milk per pound of body weight so a newborn of seven pound is going to need 18 ounces of milk a day. This is approximately 20 calories in each ounce of breast milk. Water is the main ingredient so adequate fluids intake is essential. It is recommended that we drink around 2.5 to 3 litres of liquid a day. Breast milk is 87% water, 1% protein, 7% carbohydrate and 4% lipid (fat). Obtaining adequate amounts of liquid should come in the form of clean water, herbal teas, and fresh squeezed juices.
Great nutrition ensures that the right nutrients are ready for the baby and mom doesn’t deplete herself. Again, we want to avoid the five new food groups as they increase the saturated fat in the breast milk. I recommend that you consume cold pressed unrefined nut and seed oil like flax or pumpkin seed oil. They are great as they contain linoleic and linolenic acid which are precursors for developing hormone like substances which is necessary for a strong immune system.
Breastfeeding burns tons of calories, between 500 to 600 a day so no wonder you are so hungry and makes you and your brain happy. A sample breakfast meal could be eggs, rye bread, mango, and avocado. Lunch a large salad with chicken or fish with nuts, seeds, blueberries, sundried tomatoes, onions peppers, cucumbers with homemade dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Dinner a piece of meat or fish with sweet potatoes or brown rice pasta with steamed veggies. Make sure you get at least three pieces of fruit a day and five to seven servings of veggies. Snacks can be almond butter and apples, goat cheese and veggies or humus and veggies. This is not the time to diet and breast feeding takes a lot out of mom so make sure what you choose is going to help build a strong body and a strong brain.
This truly is life’s magical moments, and we want you to feel good and provide your baby with the best start that they can get, and it all starts in our mouths.