Breastfeeding is an all-natural way to help your baby develop physically, mentally, and immunologically. As this study in StatPearls shows, babies who are breastfed for at least the first six months are less likely to get sick. Additionally, they develop a stronger immune system than those who are bottle-fed.
However, breastfeeding is also exhausting! It can be difficult and time-consuming to figure out which foods are best for breastfeeding moms. That is where we come in! Here are foods you can snack on to keep your energy up throughout the day. Some are even proven to promote infant growth, milk production, or weight loss.
Keep it Simple When Breastfeeding
Being a new mom can be exhausting. There is no need to complicate your life more by making complex, 15-step snacks while caring for your baby. These foods can all be eaten alone or added to your favorite dishes. It is up to you!
The benefits of calcium are twofold: increased breast milk production and increased infant bone development.
Low levels of calcium correlate with low milk production in new moms. A high-calcium diet could help you continue producing enough milk for your baby. This is according to a study from the Annual Review of Nutrition.
Breast milk is also rich in calcium, a nutrient that helps infants develop healthy bones and teeth. In fact, this study shows humans build more bone mass in their first year of life than in any other year — including puberty. It means that high levels of calcium are vital for fostering a strong, healthy baby.
Right now, your baby’s only source of calcium is you, so it is essential that your snacking includes foods that are high in calcium.
Low-fat dairy snacks like yogurt, cheese, and milk offer many benefits. They’re not only good sources of calcium.
They also help you lose your pregnancy weight while keeping you healthy. Low-fat dairy provides the vitamins and nutrients that both you and your baby need.
Are you lactose-intolerant or just adverse to dairy? Many seeds are packed with calcium and other nutrients your body needs. For example, an ounce of chia seeds (about a small handful) has approximately 179 mg of calcium. That is almost 15% of the recommended daily value for a lactating mother, which is around 1250 mg.
Spinach, kale, and other dense leafy greens are excellent sources of calcium. They also contain iron, which is vital for new moms as they help keep your energy up. Consider making a spinach salad or wrap with either chia seeds or cheese as an ingredient twice the benefit.
An added benefit of leafy greens is that they contain folic acid, which helps keep your baby’s development healthy and on-track. You were probably taking folic acid supplements while you were pregnant. But both you and your baby continue to need it while you are breastfeeding.
Protein, either animal or plant-based, keeps your engine running while you are breastfeeding. It contains amino acids, which are building blocks for muscle and an essential component of breast milk. Make sure to include plenty of protein in your snacking.
Avocados and Nuts
Whether you are vegetarian or just looking to branch out from meat, avocados, and nuts like cashews contains high amounts of protein.
Avocados are excellent because while they can supplement almost any dish, they are also an ideal stand=alone snack. Just toss a little salt and lime on them and spoon them right out of the skin. It does not get much more convenient than that.
Lean Animal Protein
Lean, animal-based protein like chicken or turkey is ideal for new moms who need an energy boost. It’s also great for helping you shed off those extra pounds you gained during pregnancy. Consider buying some deli turkey and tossing it into salads or roll-ups. One of the best things about roll-ups is you can eat one with one hand. It’s perfect for the busy mom on the go!
Healthy Snacks May Not Be Enough
As you can see, you can supplement the vitamins and minerals you and your baby needs from a variety of foods. The key is to be mindful of what you snack on. Don’t just reach for what’s available in the pantry.
Remember, having a healthy baby starts with healthy breast milk from a healthy mom. Smart snacking can also help aid with weight loss, which is tough to do while breastfeeding! Make sure to talk to your doctor about your nutrition levels to ensure that you do not require additional supplements.