By Jennifer L.W. Fink
When you’re breastfeeding, time and convenience are huge. Who has time to whip up complete meals? Don’t stress! These nutritional powerhouses are quick and convenient.
Oats are a completely natural whole grain, high-fiber food. A bowl of oatmeal will keep you full for a long time after breakfast — and may help increase your milk supply. Plus, oats are high in iron; and iron-deficiency anemia, which is common in new moms, can mess with your milk supply.
Good news: Quick oats — the kind that cook up in about a minute — are just as healthy as steel-cut oats, which can take much longer to prepare. But avoid pre-packaged instant oatmeal, which usually contains extra salt and sugar.
Almond aren’t just packed with protein; they’re a good non-dairy source of calcium. And the every little bit helps. Breastfeeding mamas should take in 1000 mg of calcium per day. That’s because the milk you make is high in calcium, and if you don’t get enough in your diet, your bones and teeth could be robbed of calcium they need. (Yikes!)
There are some exceptions though. If you’re allergic to almonds, they’re obviously a no-no. And if your family history includes a history of nut allergies, you might want to hold off on them until your baby is at least three months old, since food proteins more easily pass from a mom to her baby’s bloodstream (via the baby’s gut) in the first three months of baby’s life.
Apricots contain dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium, all essential nutrients. Eating apricots can also increase prolactin — that’s the hormone that tells your body to produce milk. Fresh, whole apricots are a better source of fiber than canned apricots; if you go canned, look for ones packed in water or natural juices, instead of sugary syrup. Dried apricots are also easy to toss in the diaper bag for an on-the-go snack.
This tasty, fatty fish might be the perfect meat for breastfeeding moms. It’s high in protein, and also contains large amounts of DHA, a type of fat that’s important to the development of baby’s nervous system. Wild-caught or farm-raised salmon are both good for you. If you don’t eat dairy, you can eat canned salmon, which contains tiny salmon bones, to get some extra calcium.
Stocking your fridge with yogurt is smart because the creamy stuff has got both protein and calcium (and with all those flavors available, you’re bound to find a few you love). Just beware that some breastfeeding moms are told to give up dairy if baby is diagnosed with milk protein intolerance. Signs your baby could be one of them include frequent spitting up, diarrhea, bloody stools, rashes, coughing and wheezing.
Fiber-rich kidney, black, pinto and other beans can be good for your digestive system, and they’re fantastic sources of iron and protein. It’s true that you might get a little, um, gassy, after eating beans, but when passed through breast milk, they won’t give your baby gas. Promise.
Actually, pretty much any dark green, leafy veggie is a breastfeeding super food. That includes broccoli and Swiss chard. They’re all-around nutrient-dense and even high in calcium. (This one’s for you vegan mamas!) So you can get a veggie serving and a calcium-rich serving in one, delicious, leafy food. Plus, we love how versatile spinach can be. Eat it fresh in a salad, sautee it as a side, or add it to lasagna or another favorite entrée.
Dates are another calcium-rich food — and they’re thought to help increase milk supply, since they increase prolactin like apricots do. They’re also a high-fiber, naturally sweet treat. Chop some and add them to your morning oatmeal.
Who knew? Sesame seeds are packed with calcium, and are a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. Toast them and sprinkle them over a salad of dark leafy greens. Or add some to your veggies; green beans and sesame seeds are a tasty combo.
Skip the white stuff. Brown rice is better for you because it’s got more fiber and other nutrients. Complex carbs like brown rice (and oatmeal) help keep you full and keep your blood sugar at consistent levels (no drastic energy dips!). Don’t have time to boil a pot of brown rice? Instant and boil-in-bag brown rice have the same nutrition content as the regular kind, but require less effort.
The Bump Expert: Jennifer Ritchie, IBCLC and author of I Make Milk… What’s Your Superpower?
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