5 Superfoods For Breastfeeding Moms | Hea Boosters
For the first six months or so, a large part of your day tends to revolve around your baby's feeding needs and schedule as a new mom. Your nutrition plays a significant role in this. Ensuring that the food you eat is rich in macronutrients, essential vitamins, and critical minerals is one of the easiest ways to ensure that both you and your baby stay healthy.
Did you know that breastfeeding alone burns approximately 500 calories in a day? This makes it even more vital for you to refuel your body through a wholesome, balanced diet, especially if you're a breastfeeding mom.
While hormones certainly have a role to play in the production process, what you eat significantly impacts your breastmilk's quality and volume. From a macronutrient perspective, breastmilk comprises 87% water, 3.8% fat, 1% protein and 7% carbohydrates. In addition to this, it also contains every other micronutrient that your baby needs, for the first six months, except Vitamin D.
Unlike baby formula, breastmilk changes the calorie content and composition throughout the time you continue feeding to meet the baby's needs. Therefore, the need for specific nutrients, including Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin B12, Selenium and Zinc, also goes up.
If your diet consistently lacks these nutrients, it can deteriorate the quality of your breastmilk and your health as well. There are plenty of natural nutrient sources that contribute to an ideal diet for breastfeeding moms and are readily available.
Breastfeeding can be challenging, and finding natural and effective ways to boost the milk supply is a relief when you're struggling.
Here is a list of 5 superfoods for breastfeeding moms:
A member of the asparagus family, Shatavari, is known to boost breast milk production and is popular for the multiple benefits it confers upon a woman's reproductive health in general. It enhances the production of corticoids and prolactin, improving the quality and the amount of breast milk. Shatavari increases the secretion of steroid hormones that enhance milk production.
2. Fennel + fenugreek seeds:
Fennel (saunf) has a natural chemical that mimics dopamine's effects and binds to prolactin, thus stimulating the production and enhancing the quantity of breastmilk. It also has a reputation for producing an estrogen-like effect. Fenugreek (methi) contains phytoestrogens that help increase milk production. Fenugreek has therapeutic effects as well as the mechanism to increase milk production.
3. Whole Grains like Oats:
Oatmeal has iron which also is a must for breastfeeding mothers and helps promote milk supply. This powerful food's rich and soothing effects while eating can also help lower stress levels.
Turmeric (haldi) is believed to be a great galactagogue (food that helps boost milk supply) and is widely acknowledged as an essential part of a mom's diet, both in India and around the world as well. Turmeric also boosts your immune system and that of your baby and is instrumental in warding off coughs and colds.
Milk is an excellent source of calcium. So are foods like yoghurt, cheese and certain green vegetables. Women are said to lose 3-5% of their bone mass while nursing their baby. The loss in bone mass happens due to the baby's calcium requirement. Breastfeeding causes most of the calcium the mother consumes to go the baby's way rather than to her bones, making them weak.
For vegan moms, chickpeas are also a nutritious food high in protein. They also contain plant estrogens which make them effective as galactagogues. A cup (200 gm) of chickpeas (channa) has 39 gm of protein. To arrive at the number of grams of protein you need in a day, multiply your body weight (in kg) by 0.8.
Since breastmilk is largely made up of water, staying adequately hydrated and drinking at least eight glasses of water a day (regardless of whether you feel thirsty) will go a long way in ensuring a regular supply of milk.
Supplements that incorporate these breastfeeding superfoods and nutrients are also a great way to ensure that you and your baby stay healthy, especially when finding the time to research and prepare meals that cater to all of these needs seems complicated.