It’s been 20 days since I gave birth to my baby boy. My body, mind and spirit are still adjusting to the new adventure called motherhood and I can’t deny that it has been overwhelming: more challenging than I have ever imagined. My schedule, daily routine and habits are going through major changes. So is my diet.
During the 9 months of pregnancy I managed to establish a healthy and balanced way of eating, rich in natural, non-refined or processed foods. I was physically active until the end: walking, doing prenatal workouts and yoga. I gained 12 kg, and after giving birth to a 4.250 kg, 55 cm – baby, I lost all of them at once. In fact, I now weight less than I used to in my pre-pregnancy era.
Yet, as a mother that has chosen to sustain exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months, I had to adjust my diet once again in order to provide optimal nutrition for my baby and enhance the nutrients found in my breast milk. I found out that breastfeeding was very demanding on my body. I was feeling more tired, hungry and thirsty than before, and I was craving sugar like crazy. I felt that my body needed additional calories, vitamins and minerals. And it wasn’t only about my child: I knew that he would get the nutrients he needed. It was important for me to get adequate nutrition for myself in order to recover more quickly. So I filled up on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, natural non-processed carbohydrates, lean proteins, legumes, greens and natural mainly goat-milk based dairy.
And here are some new nutrition rules that I have embraced that might be useful to you too:
1. Eat protein rich foods like lean meats, eggs, fish and seafood, and dairy every day
Eating more proteins, especially animal-based, is essential not only for the nutrition value of your breast milk, but also for your speedy recovery. During the process of giving birth your body loses a significant amount of blood and lean proteins are what will help you recover, and boost your blood flow and energy levels. The sources of lean proteins are also going to enrich the nutrition value of your breast milk and make it stronger, and more beneficial for your baby.
Knowing all that, I had to force myself to build the habit of eating animal-based proteins on a daily basis. This step was not easy for me as I am not a huge fan of meat, eggs and dairy. However, I must confess that it felt like my body was in natural need of more animal-based proteins and once I established the habit of eating them I even started to enjoy them.
Note: If you are vegan or vegetarian you have to be aware that to maintain the same levels of protein content into your breast milk, you will have to make more adjustments to your diet. You should eat a bigger amount of proteins, as plant-based proteins are not as powerful as animal-based. You may also have to start taking a variety of supplements like iron, calcium, vitamin B-12 and D.
2. Adjust my water intake
When breastfeeding you produce on average 750 to 850ml of milk a day and your body is more sensitive to dehydration. This can make you feel more tired. That is why you have to increase the amount of water you drink daily and In fact, for me this happened quite naturally as I was thirsty all the time, including during the night.
In Europe, it is recommended to drink around 2 liters of water a day, or the equivalent of 10 glasses of water. But try to neither limit yourself, nor force it. If you need to drink more than 2 liters - go ahead. And if 2 liters is just too much for you, then drink as much as your body tells you to. Try to stick to just pure water (filtered or with light mineralization) and avoid drinks high in added sugars, caffeine, tannin or alcohol.
3. Limit my daily fruit intake
I simply adore all types of fruit (except durian). But it turned out that eating an extensive amount of fruit, as I usually do, causes diarrhea to my baby. So I had to limit my fruit intake to up to 2 cups a day and completely exclude fruits such as cherries, plums, pears, peaches and apricots for a while.
4. Pay attention to possible allergic reactions to foods
The belief that while breastfeeding you have a very limited selection of foods that you could eat is outdated. You are allowed to eat everything (except for fatty, highly processed junk foods), but in moderation.
However, you have to be aware of the fact that sometimes your baby can be sensitive to something you eat and may display sensitivity symptoms or allergic reaction. Limit or stop eating the foods that seem to bother her/him and the symptoms should fade on their own.
So you wanted to know what exactly do I eat for rich and nutritious breast milk? Here is an exemplary daily menu: what I eat in a day.
First thing in the morning: 2 spirulina tablets with a shot wheatgrass (1 tsp.
dissolved into a full glass of water) and a probiotic
Gluten-free oats soaked into oat milk topped with banana, pineapple and coconut flakes
Sweet potato-eggs muffins (recipe on 2 Health App) with a big green salad with radish and cucumber
Gluten-free banana pancakes with maple syrup and fresh fruit (recipe here)
Oven-baked salmon with mixed greens with avocado, red pepper and rich tahini dressing
Interested in more pregnancy and motherhood-related topics? Check out 4 THINGS I SEE DIFFERENTLY SINCE I GOT PREGNANT.
Thank you for reading this blog post. For more health, wellness and yoga related information, materials and inspiration download 2Health App (available on both Android and iOS). 2Health App and all its updates are available for a single charge ($0.99p). You access all content, all the time, anywhere. No monthly membership fees and restrictions. We would love to hear from you. Tell us what you think.