What or How Do I Eat While Breastfeeding? October 29 2014


Those first days home with your baby can be a blur of naps and breastfeeding and maybe a shower or two if you are lucky. Many new moms find themselves eating out a lot because they don’t have food at their house, or not eating at all because they are constantly breastfeeding their baby.

Breastfeeding moms burn an extra 500 calories per day! You don’t have to eat healthy for baby to get healthy milk because your body will take what it needs from the stores in your body. However, it is a good idea to eat at least semi-healthy so that you can keep your energy up to take care of your baby. You also need to eat at least the minimum amount of food to ensure that you make enough milk for your baby. It is recommended that you take in 1800-2200 calories per day. And, while you don’t have to count calories, eating less than 1500-1800 calories per day, could put your milk supply at risk.

Here are a few ideas to help you with eating now that you are breastfeeding:

  • If you are pregnant, get food prepared now! I usually do meal prep on Sundays for the week. So, while I was pregnant, I made two meals a week for breakfast, two for lunch and two for dinner. I froze half of that and used half of it for the week. (I have picky eaters in my family and I usually eat Paleo, so I have my own meals and then another meal for the rest of the family). By the time my baby was born, I had approximately 3 months’ worth of food in my freezer for me. I also made several recipes for lactation snacks, like lactation cookies, lactation bars, pretty much anything lactation friendly, I made and froze! (For all of these recipes, I used gluten free flours, gluten free oats, and coconut oil or regular butter for my fats) No Bake Energy Bites are also really yummy.

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  • If you have already had your baby, prep easy foods when you can. Pick one day a week when your husband is home and prep some food for that week. Make it simple with foil packets or crock pot meals. My favorite is a salmon packet-put out a sheet of foil, dump half a bag of frozen green beans on it, a frozen salmon filet, and half a can of diced tomatoes, season to your liking, then wrap it up. Viola-a meal you can throw in the oven an hour before lunch. Crock pot meals are also super easy. Here’s a couple of links to my favorite, 5 minute prep recipes. Crock Pot Chicken with Black Beans and Cream Cheese (you might want to eliminate the salsa from this one, it's still yummy without it). Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie Stew  You can place a crock pot bag in the crock pot, throw all of the ingredients in it, then tie it up somehow and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to cook it. It is also really easy to just throw some frozen chicken in the crock pot at lunch, then at dinner you can shred the chicken and eat it on tortillas or by itself and all you have to cook is a vegetable.  30 minutes on a Sunday afternoon can have your lunches and dinners all prepped for the week if you use these simple methods!
  • Buy quick, easy snacks like plantain chips or Kind bars. Already made lactation cookies are expensive! And granola bars are filled with sugar. My new favorite ‘granola bars’ are the Kind bars. I believe they are a bit healthier than the Quaker granola bars because they are made with nuts, and of course chocolate. You can also use Lara bars, which are high in natural sugar, but are made with less than 5 ingredients for most of them. I also like plantain chips for a salty snack. Fruit is also a pretty quick and easy snack, so keep some apples, oranges, grapes, or whatever fruit you like handy.
  • I prefer hot lunches, but you can also make quick, easy convenience meals like instant oatmeal or sandwiches, yay, you can have sandwiches again! 10 months of no cold sandwiches, and now you can have them again! So stack one up with half a package of meat and chow down! Just kidding, that would be a lot of sodium, but you can have a sandwich now if you can’t get a hot meal fixed. I lived on oatmeal for breakfast there for a while. You can get the lower sugar versions of the instant oatmeal, or make plain instant oatmeal and add your own ingredients.
  • And, last but definitely not least, ask for help!  When people ask you what you need, don’t say nothing! Ask for frozen meals or take-out meals. Set up your own meal delivery on www.takethemameal.com . Set it up before the baby is born, so that when he or she is born, all you have to do is give people a link to what you have set up. Many societies still take care of the family with a newborn for the first few months so that the mom can rest and nurse; it’s time we start doing that here in America! Start a revolution by setting up your own meal delivery!
  • When do you eat? Any time you are getting ready to feed your baby, gather a snack or a meal and some water before you sit down. You never know how long you are going to be sitting there with that baby attached to you, so be prepared. I always got either hungry or thirsty when I was nursing in those early days, so it really helped to already have it there with me.
  • Try to watch your clock at least a little bit so that you know when it is lunch time and/or dinner time. Try to get something in the oven an hour before lunch, or heat up some leftovers at lunch time. Try to get something in the crock pot at lunch time for dinner, or put something in the oven an hour before you would like to eat dinner.
  • Don’t forget to drink your water. Water is just as important as food when you are nursing. You should aim to drink 8-10 8 oz glasses of water per day. You don’t want to drink too much, because that can have a negative impact on supply, so drink to thirst with a minimum of 8 glasses a day. Remember that you can count juice, milk, tea and other beverages you may drink in that 8 glasses a day.
  • What should I not eat? There are a few things you should try to avoid in those first weeks that baby is home. You should avoid peppermint, sage, thyme, parsley, oregano, black walnut, chickweed, lemon balm, Herb Robert, periwinkle, sorrel, and spearmint, because those herbs can potentially lower your supply. You can see these and a list of herbs that can be harmful to mom and baby here. You may also want to try to avoid spicy foods and caffeine for a few weeks to see how baby’s tummy will react to it.

Happy eating!


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