For many new Mum’s breastfeeding does not come easy. You may be exhausted from the birth and more so if you’ve had a C-section, you may well put lots of pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly or your baby may not be able to latch properly. One thing is for sure – it is not easy in those first few weeks or even months for many of you. Diet during breast feeding is incredibly important and if you’ve been struggling with milk supply or are struggling with health yourself there are a few things you can do to help both you and your baby. There are a number of key nutrients that are vital for breast milk and below are my top 10 tips for increasing your supply:
- Omega 3 – your breast milk is made up from a large proportion of fat. The essential fats (omega 3) come from foods such as oily fish, nuts and seeds. Include these foods regularly in your diet – add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed a day plus 2-3 portions of fish such as salmon.
- B vitamins – you need the b vitamins especially folic acid and B12 for breast milk production. One of the best foods to help with milk supply is brewers yeast.
- Water – hydrating your body is one of the BEST ways to help your milk production. Avoid caffeine, drinks containing artificial sweeteners, alcohol and anything fizzy unless carbonated water in moderation.
- Fennel – this food has the ability to increase milk supply due to its phytoestrogen properties. It can be added to food using the fennel seed or drunk as a tea. It may also help to calm colic in babies.
- Green leafy vegetables – these are high in folic acid, calcium, iron and phytoestrogens/antioxidants. A great breakfast would be a spinach omelette.
- Oats – often used to help increase supply, the nutrients in oats help to relax and this maybe why it can help with milk supply. A piece of healthy flapjack with a fennel tea may be just the answer!
- Protein and an extra 300-500 calories; you need to keep your intake up a little to allow for the additional energy expenditure during breastfeeding. Balancing your food groups can really help. A great balance of protein, fats and carbs would make hummus and oatcakes the perfect snack.
- Ginger – a little bit of fresh ginger root would be a great addition to your diet. Known for its anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties add a little fresh ginger could help promote milk supply. Do not go mad though as it is a powerful food.
- Support – get help and support from your local breastfeeding specialists if you are struggling. Consulting a professional with regards to correct latching, tongue tie, pumping advice and confidence can all reduce your stress levels. This is really the most important part of breastfeeding. Keep calm and carry on breastfeeding.
- Sleep and skin to skin. You absolutely need your sleep (I know you will laugh when you read this but please get rest when and where you can – accept help and have a nap!). Skin to skin and increasing feeds can all help to stimulate milk supply. Do not underestimate the power of skin to skin contact.
If you are stressed and breastfeeding is not working out for you, please first get help and support. Breastfeeding can be incredibly hard and it does not come naturally to some new Mums and their babies. I know, I’ve been there feeling like a failure but I can honestly say that when you do get it right it is absolutely wonderful and you will be so sad when your baby chooses to stop.
Here is a great link to the best lactation cookies recipe – they are delicious too!!
Wishing you and your baby the best of health.
Julie Clark is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and author of Baby Led Weaning Step by Step. She specialises in child nutrition and writes for Mother & Baby Magazine and Baby Centre.