Choosing to nurse your baby is no easy decision. It takes a lot of time, commitment and patience, but the results are worth it. Watching your baby grow through the process is a beautiful part of the journey. But while you are caring for your baby's health requirements, you must look after your own psychological and physical health.
Not having the right diet can have severe consequences for a nursing mum. The lack of an enriched diet causes your body to take the nutrition for breast milk from the mum's body tissues. Hence, a nursing mum needs to maintain a healthy and varied diet during breastfeeding. Some superfoods that help during your nursing journey are as follows:
- Water - Although not technically a type of food, water is one of the most crucial components of your diet when it comes to nursing. High water intake increases a nursing mum's milk supply and provides many other benefits, like healthier skin, better digestion, improved energy levels and a healthy weight loss. Remember to keep your water bottle close to you at all times, so you do not forget to drink up.
- Green leafy vegetables - Spinach, kale, lettuce and broccoli are some green leafy vegetables that keep your vitamins in check. They are highly recommended, as green vegetables are low in calories, have plenty of antioxidants and can be an excellent source of fibre for new mums. Additionally, mums can replenish Vitamins A, C and K from these vegetables.
- Whole grains - Several mums have claimed that oats help increase the supply of breast milk. Other whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, millet and bulgur are also full of fibre that is great for nursing mums and their bubs. They are also high in iron and lower stress levels in mums.
- Protein - Protein is an essential part of any nursing mum’s diet. Include eggs, nuts, cheese and meat in your diet to ensure high protein intake. Fat-soluble vitamins A, B and D in eggs make them perfect for a breakfast sandwich or a lunch salad. You can also replace eggs and meat with tofu and other vegan-friendly protein sources.
- Dairy products - Dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese are sources of calcium and vitamin D. They keep the mum's bones strong, and are also beneficial for the baby. While breast milk contains some probiotics for your bub, consumption of different dairy products increase the healthy bacteria needed for your baby's digestive health.
- Fish - Fish is a superfood that is often neglected. It contains high levels of unsaturated fats called the Omega-3 fatty acids. Having salmon, tuna and sardines in your diet benefit the nervous system of a nursing mum and her baby. You do need to be careful, as some fish have high mercury content. This is why you should not consume more than 12 ounces of fatty fish per week while breastfeeding.
- Nuts and seeds - Nursing mums should consume nuts and seeds to increase breast milk supply. Some nuts, like almonds, pistachio, peanuts, cashews and pecans, supplement non-dairy calcium. They are also rich in iron, vitamin B and protein, and provide Omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidants, zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids present in sunflower, flax and pumpkin seeds not only improve lactation but also allow better brain development in babies.
- Legumes, beans, and pulses - If you're a vegetarian or vegan and do not eat meat, no worries! Other good sources of protein include legumes, pulses and beans. They are inexpensive, come in a variety of colours, sizes and shapes, and are high in carbohydrates and proteins. An excellent source of iron, they should be incorporated into your diet to get the maximum benefit for you and your bub.
Foods with high saturated fats like pizzas, cakes and burgers need to be limited during breastfeeding. Try to replace caffeinated and artificially sweetened drinks with more natural juices and high amounts of water.