There is a lot of focus on what we put into our bodies when we are pregnant. I remember reading everything I could about the food I was providing for my growing baby, but did you know that your nutritional needs are just as important once you start breastfeeding?
We all know the benefits of breastfeeding for both mum and baby, including: improved immunity and a lower rate of diseases. Since your baby’s digestive system is not fully functioning until the end of their first year, breastmilk is one of the easiest foods for them to digest so you need to make sure you are consuming the best breastfeeding foods.
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Leafy greens like kale, spinach and chard are a great non-dairy source of calcium. They contain iron, folic acid, fibre, vitamin A and vitamin C. A good tip to remember the darker the leaf the better the nutritional benefits.
DHA (omega-3 fatty acid) is essential for the development of your child’s nervous system. Fish is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acid, in particular salmon. Salmon is amazing when it comes to giving new mum’s the DHA they need to provide the best start for their baby’s life.
Sardines are also great to add to the mix, just keep in mind to limit your serving of fish to no more than twice a week. Swordfish, shark and mackerel are very high in mercury and should be avoided as these can harm your baby’s brain.
Nuts are the easiest snacks to have on hand. Make your own mixed nut bags and have them in your pantry or handbag ready to go when you are feeling hungry.
• Almonds: rich in calcium, vitamin E, magnesium and fibre
• Walnuts: are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are great for your brain and heart health.
• Cashews: are rich in iron, magnesium and zinc.
• Macadamias: high in protein, fibre and potassium. They can also help lower cholesterol
You really can’t go wrong with avocados; they are packed with 20 essential nutrients.
Avocados are great for providing potassium, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, B-Vitamins, Fibre and folic acid which is an important nutrient during pregnancy and breastfeeding. I know a lot of new mums can often avoid avocados because of their high fat content but did you know that they are high in monounsaturated fats – the good fats that can help lower cholesterol.
Berries are one of my faviourt little superfoods as they are packed with antioxidants which are important for mum and baby. Berries are Mother Nature’s snack food as they are easy to grab on the go and they make a great addition to your breakfast smoothie.
Yogurt is fantastic because it contains both protein and calcium which are important for both you and your baby. When you are breastfeeding it is important to consume enough calcium for your own health as well.
These days there are some great products available that are full of live cultures and probiotics, these help maintain a healthy gut for you and your baby. Try adding some Greek yogurt into a smoothie or topping it with fresh fruit for a great afternoon snack
Beans contain fibre, iron and zinc and are a great choice of protein for vegetarians. The great thing about beans is that they are so easy to add to just about any recipe and that is important for time poor new mums.
Breastfeeding mums need to make sure they are keeping their iron levels up. Lean beef is excellent in providing iron and protein along with vitamin B12.
Eggs are the perfect snack for breastfeeding mothers. Prepare a few hardboiled eggs in advance and have ready to go in the fridge for when you are hungry.
Eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein. In fact, eggs contain all the essential fatty acids and also vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, calcium and zinc. Look for DHA fortified ones as these are the best for you and your baby.
Oats are one of the best breastfeeding foods as they may help increase your milk supply. Oats are also great for a strong immune system in mother and baby. Oats contain carbohydrates, protein, fibre, vitamin B1, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Starting your day with a bowl of whole grain oats will leave you feeling fuller for longer. Resist the urge to buy the pre-packaged instant oats that are just filled with sugars and artificial flavours.
Finally, please don’t forget the importance of water. You need to drink lots of water to replace what you will lose while you are feeding.