A Dietician's Top 5 'Super Foods' for Breastfeeding Mums

Resistered dietician, Tammy Kacev explains: 

When we start breastfeeding, amazing things happen within our bodies. We become milk-making machines! With every breathing moment our bodies are making milk. Due to this extra activity, it is no wonder breast feeding mums feel tired and hungry, like all the time!

While breastfeeding, our bodies need adequate calories, with adequate nutrition to make every drop of milk. We are all aware of the nutritional needs needed pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy, but post pregnancy nutrition tends to be forgotten about. Feeding our bodies with adequate nutrition post pregnancy while breastfeeding will help our bodies produce healthy milk for our babies, as well as help mums feel better.

The term ‘superfood’ is nothing more than a fashionable description for many foods in the world of advertising and marketing. In fact, there is no official scientific definition of what a ‘superfood’ is, but in my opinion ‘superfoods’ refer to specific foods that are beneficial for our health. I do not believe that you have to go to special health food stores to find ‘superfoods’. In fact, most superfoods are found at your local supermarket, and are reasonably priced, so in this article I am going to discuss five ‘superfoods’ that can help nourish breastfeeding mums.

1. Water

When it comes to healthy diets we know what foods to eat and which foods to only eat moderately. But most of us forget about our hydration levels and water consumption, especially when we are breastfeeding. Although water is not by definition a food or part of a food group, water offers many benefits for our health and this is why my number one ‘superfood’ suggestion for breastfeeding mums is water. Without adequate water intake we become dehydrated. This is not great for our health status, especially when breastfeeding because if we are dehydrated, it means our milk supply will also be affected. When we are breastfeeding we are tired and sleep-deprived, so there is no need to add dehydration to the list.

It is important that you listen your body and my suggestions is to just drink when thirsty. No need to skull down litre after litre.

2. Dark green vegetables

I believe the more vegetables we eat, the better. In fact, go nuts because consuming more vegetables offers more benefits our health, and while we are breastfeeding this is hugely advantageous. Dark green vegetables offer a range of many nutrients, while also being low in calories. Although I do not believe dieting is necessary while breast feeding, I do acknowledge that mums want to start dropping their post baby weight.

Rather than cutting calories, I suggest consuming foods that are calorie dense; foods that offer great nutrition, but do not cost us a lot of calories either. This group of veggies are rich in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as minerals such as calcium. There are lots of dark green vegetables, so you won’t get bored! My favourite is baby broccoli…what’s yours?

3. Avocados

When we become pregnant and go on to breastfeed, there are some foods we need to cut out of our diets or minimise the amount we consume. Thank goodness avocados are not one of those foods. In fact, we should be eating more avocados when breastfeeding. Avocados extremely nutritional. Avocados give us good fats. They are also a great sources of fibre that keeps us feeling fuller for longer, which when we are feeling more hungry than usual and are concerned about weight loss, this becomes beneficial. Avocados are a great source of many vitamins too.

4. Almonds

As a pescatarian myself, I live for nuts, almonds being my favourite. But besides being one of my favourite things to eat, almonds offer many benefits for everyone, but especially for breastfeeding mums. Almonds are a great source of protein and good fats. Almonds are my number one snack suggestion that gives breastfeeding mums not only a variety of nutrients and an abundance of energy, but almonds are one of, if not, the best vegetarian sources of calcium. A much needed mineral for a new born.

5. Salmon

Salmon is a fatty fish and is a great source of protein, omega-3 and essential fatty acids; fatty acids we can only get from food. The protein, fatty acids and omega-3 found in salmon are all beneficial, but it is the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) one of the omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, which is especially important for breast feeding mums as it is crucial for the development of our newborns nervous system.

To conclude: Food affects the milk supply of breastfeeding mums. Adequate nutrition can offer much needed nutrition and energy, for both mum and baby. It is important to eat when you are hungry and pay attention to hunger cues.

It is not a good idea to focus on restricting calories while breastfeeding, but rather focus on a healthy, balanced nutritional diet.

It is recommended that you speak to your doctor or health care professional for nutrition advice. Remember every mother is different and will have different needs while breastfeeding. Results may vary.