You’ve brought your miracle home from the birthing suite. You’ve never known sleep deprivation quite like this. The house is in shambles, and you move in between tears of joy and tears…….well who knows what they’re for!! On top of everything you’re feeling, you have this unbelievable, incredible, amazing human life depending on you 24 hours a day. Probably the last thing on your mind is looking after yourself at this time, however this beautiful life is depending on you to look after yourself so he or she grows and develops to the best of their ability.
Breastfeeding uses a lot of energy and stored nutrients. A healthy diet is always good practice, however it’s especially important if you are breastfeeding as your diet needs to give you back the nutrients you use during breastfeeding. We know breast milk is the best food for your baby, but what are the best nutrients for you whilst you’re breastfeeding?
The levels of many vitamins and nutrients contained within breastmilk are in direct correlation of the vitamins and nutrients contained within your diet. So basically, if you’re not eating these nutrients, then your baby isn’t getting them either. This includes the fat soluble vitamins – vitamins A, C and E and the majority of B vitamins (except folate).
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, for both you and your baby. Most of you know we get most of our vitamin D from sun exposure, however if you live somewhere that doesn’t get a lot of sunshine, particularly through the winter months – or if you’re indoors for the majority of the day, you may struggle to make enough vitamin D. Supplements can be a great way to boost your levels at this time of year and at this delicate time whilst breastfeeding.
As I mentioned above, the amount of vitamin B12 in your breastmilk is in direct connection to how much you consume in your diet so it’s critical to obtain what you need while breastfeeding. Vitamin B12 supports a healthy mood, promotes strong healthy bones and what I think is most important – it gives Mum much needed energy and memory; 2 things which generally go out the window with a new baby, in the house.
Active B12 is only found in animal derived foods (i.e. eggs, dairy, meat and fish) so it’s essential for vegans and vegetarians to supplement whilst breastfeeding. I also highly recommend regular carnivores to supplement with B12 as the recommended daily intake actually increases from pregnancy to breastfeeding.
A woman requires more of the essential fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) during breastfeeding as the baby uses it specifically to develop its brain and nervous system.
DHA levels easily get lost in order to provide the infant with what he or she needs to grow and develop. If your DHA levels are low – then the amount of DHA in your breastmilk will be low too. I always recommend supplementing with fish oil at this very delicate time and specifically choose for my clients a fish oil supplement high in the fatty acid DHA for breastfeeding women at a serving of 300mg per day.
In addition to supporting baby develop, fish oil during breastfeeding supports Mum and has been shown in research to reduce low mood and the risk of postpartum depression.
Without a doubt, probiotics are essential during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Whilst pregnant, probiotics assist baby’s behavioural, immune, and gastrointestinal health. One strain in particular, Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) has demonstrated its capacity to reduce allergies and eczema when given in the last trimester of gestation. A hefty dose is required for this therapeutic intervention and it’s suggested to take 10-20 billion per day.
Herbs of Gold has a fantastic formula available containing great amounts of this powerful probiotic; Find it here.
Calcium is a mineral that is not in direct connection to your diet. This means that even if your diet is lacking in calcium, you will still have calcium in your breast milk. How could this possibly be so I hear you ask? Unfortunately, our bones, which contain good amounts of calcium will leach this precious mineral for our precious babies, leaving Mum with a higher risk for osteoporosis and the like.