If you think you’re hungry while pregnant, just wait to keep up with breastfeeding nutrition! You may be surprised at just how much it can take to sustain your body while constantly producing milk and expending energy to nurse a little one.
It’s important to plan for the added nutrients and energy in order to keep on making that liquid love.
Really Eating for Two
When we’re pregnant, the phrase “eating for two” tends to come up a lot, sometimes from others and sometimes to justify eating whatever we want. But even though pregnancy nutrition is important, it’s when breastfeeding nutrition comes on the scene that it’s actually time to eat for two.
This may seem strange, since you’re no longer carrying another person. Now, think about the rate of growth, the size differences, the increasing appetite and nutritional needs…breastfeeding is your body’s provision for all of those needs and more. You’re working hard to make milk for that little one! You have to eat to replenish it.
Breastfeeding Nutrition Recommendations
Just because the baby is born doesn’t mean you have to slow down your dietary vigilance. To get technical and specific, a pregnant mom needs around 300-400 more calories more than before, and breastfeeding moms need more like 400-500 more.
For specific breastfeeding nutrition, a good mix of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) from whole foods sources are important. So, a bowl of brown rice with chicken and avocado will be better than something out of a package. Then, load it up with veggies and fruits for a good mix of vitamins and minerals.
The hardest part about breastfeeding nutrition is keeping up with eating at all, let alone eating well. The life of a nursing mama is never dull, and it’s all to easy to put baby’s needs completely ahead of ours. Remember that the number one recommendation, requirement, and reality for breastfeeding nutrition is that you have to feed your body in order to feed your baby.
Your amazing body will make good milk no matter what – malnourished moms often continue nursing without a visible problem. But it comes at a price. Your body will thank you for good nutrition.
Keeping up with Breastfeeding Nutrition
Caloric intake should jump above pregnancy intake by a bit, but counting calories is the last thing on your mind when you’re breastfeeding. Instead, keep the priority on having good nutritious foods around that are easy to grab and eat while your hands are tied.
First stop: water. Get a good bottle or jar that you can keep nearby, preferably with a lid that you can drink from. You want to be able to grab it with one hand and get a drink, but also avoid spills when the toddler climbs over you or the baby learns to kick while nursing.
Go for at least a gallon a day, which can be peppered with herbal teas that both hydrate and nourish.
The right kind of snack can provide a shocking amount of nutrition. Nuts and seeds, nutrient-rich dips and spreads (think hummus and guacamole spread on toast or large crackers), nut butters with veggies and fruit, and homemade jerky. Snacks like these are all easy to prepare all at once ahead of time, grab and eat, and they are loaded with satisfying nutrients.
Slow cookers and pressure cookers are a mama’s best friend. Make your meals ahead of time, when you have a moment in the kitchen, then let them sit until it’s time to eat. The new electric pressure cookers are great for this. They make a meal quickly, but you don’t have to remember to run back in there to turn them off.
On top of easy prep meals, cook big meals so that you can enjoy the leftovers over the next day or two. That extra bit of planning will keep good foods on hand, even when baby doesn’t give you a chance to make something else.
Maybe not a recipe for a meal, this tip is still a recipe for good nutrition. A good baby carrier can free your hands to grab a snack or make a meal. You will probably not be able to nurse hands free until baby gets some good head control, but that’s okay. You can still get some food down while they are satisfied snuggling up to you and your hands are free. Try not to feel too badly when you drop a little food onto their head. We’ve all done it!
What are your favorite snacks for maximizing breastfeeding nutrition?