Having a baby is probably the greatest and most responsible decision of your life, but what comes after the baby is born? When a mother decides to breastfeed, the situation gets even more complicated. It’s important for a mom to get all the necessary nutrients for both her as well as her baby. Did you know that breastfeeding burns an average of 500 calories per day? It’s no wonder nursing moms are always hungry. So what can you eat to avoid gaining a lot of weight? Here are some super foods to make you strong and healthy, courtesy of POPSUGAR.
“When we’re breastfeeding, our bodies take fat, carbohydrates, immune cells, and thousands of other components from our blood to create breast milk,” Helen Anderson, RN, MSN, lactation expert for Fairhaven Health and creator of the Milkies Milk-Saver, told POPSUGAR. “If your body has to choose between taking nutrients to make milk for your baby or leave them for your body, the baby will win every time.”
That’s why taking care of yourself is very important. To make those calories count, try working these top 10 breastfeeding “superfoods” into your daily meal plan.
Inexpensive and easy, old-fashioned, but healthy, oat is on the top of this list. “Oats — packed with whole grain fiber and protein — keep you feeling full for a long time,” Anderson explained. “They also digest slowly and keep your blood sugar stable, which could have a big influence on your milk supply.”
Are you consuming enough eggs? “Eggs are a complete protein (aka filled with all the amino acids you and your baby need), and can increase your daily intake of choline, an essential nutrient that helps your health as well as the baby’s development,” said Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, and author of Fertility Foods. Choline as also known for improving brain development and health.
The healthiest fat probably comes from avocados. “It’s a nutrient-rich choice that contains fiber, folate, and protein,” Shaw says. “Avocados act as a ‘nutrient booster’ by helping increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, including vitamins A, D, K, and E.” These fats can also be helpful for your baby’s brain.
According to Shaw, a bowl of Greek yogurt is a healthy breakfast or a snack. “Filled with probiotics (aka gut-friendly bacteria that helps strengthen yours and baby’s immunity), protein, calcium, and vitamin B-12, it will introduce better bacteria to support good health and digestion.”
5. Beans and legumes
Beans are good for both you and your baby. “Fiber, protein, iron, folate, zinc, and calcium are all abundant in the legume family! Adding these to your diet will not only help increase your plant-based proteins, but also help keep you regular, too,” Shaw continues.
“The iron helps your body deliver oxygen to your cells to keep your energy high and reduce your risk of anemia, which can sap your energy. Legumes have often been used in recipes to aid in lactation in eastern countries for many years,” Anderson adds. “Fenugreek is another legume that has a powerful effect on milk supply, and it’s available in capsule form from several suppliers.”
Even though you may not be a fan of milk, it’s still good for you while breastfeeding. “Milk contains essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and vitamin A that are great for not only your health, but the health of your baby, too,” said Shaw.
7. Fruits and veggies
All colors and all kinds are allowed. “Just make sure to properly wash and rinse all produce to prevent food-borne infection from harming your baby,” Shaw explained. “Carrots especially are filled with beta-carotene. This crucial nutrient is converted to vitamin A in the body and important for vision and eye health, immunity, and skin elasticity. It easily passes through your breast milk to your baby and gives them all these wonderful benefits.”
It’s time for some fish! “These fatty acids convert to DHA in your baby’s body. DHA helps build strong cell walls and creates a protective coating on nerves in the eyes and brain. Eating salmon or tuna at least twice a week will provide the beneficial effects of omega-3.”
9. Brown rice
According to Anderson, brown rice can also increase serotonin levels, which will help you manage stress. Plus, serotonin has also been shown to increase prolactin levels, a key hormone in milk production.
These are also full of good fats that will help you with the milk supply. “Nuts contain tryptophan, which converts to serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer that helps you manage stress, sleep better (when you can!), and boost prolactin,” Anderson says. “Those good fats transfer through your milk to your baby, which means more nutrition with each swallow.”
Here are some superfoods to get rid of annoying stretch marks.