I don’t know about you, but when I was breastfeeding my babies, I was constantly hungry! I would eat an entire meal and not even an hour later feel like I haven’t eaten in days.
Don’t be surprised if you are experiencing the same thing. Your body is working hard to make milk to feed your little one so you are burning lots of extra calories!
Burning extra calories doesn’t mean you should stuff yourself with junk food though. I’m not saying that the occasional junk food binge doesn’t (and shouldn’t happen), trust me I’ve been there!
However, as often as possible you should try to fill yourself with these pregnancy super foods and here is why:
Lactation consultants will tell you that oatmeal is a lactogenic food, meaning that it helps increase milk supply. Not only does it help boost supply, but it is rich in iron which is needed after giving birth because of low iron levels due to blood loss.
Many women become anemic during pregnancy and one way of getting that much needed extra iron is through a bowl of oatmeal.
Try adding a little bit of honey, jam or fresh fruit to give it a nice flavor but go easy on the sugar. Fresh fruit is a great natural way to sweeten up your oatmeal. Sometimes I also like to add a little bit of peanut butter to mine if I don’t feel like having fruit.
Salmon is recommended during breastfeeding because it is so high in protein and contains large amounts of DHA & EPA. DHA, also known as Omega-3’s, is a type of fat found in salmon which is important to the development of the baby’s nervous system. Salmon is also high in protein, vitamin D and other nutrients not found in other foods.
If possible, go for wild caught salmon, but farm-raised is fine as well.
You may have heard concerns regarding mercury in fish, but eating salmon once or twice a week will not harm your baby. You would need to eat a lot of fish to have a negative impact on your nursing child.
Yogurt was and still is one of my favorite grab-and-go snacks. It is packed with both protein and calcium and there are so many flavors to choose from. Just be sure to read the label because a lot of yogurts have a ton of sugar.
Your best bet is to choose greek yogurts. They generally offer more protein and less sugar. My favorite brand right now is Siggi’s.
Yogurt contains healthy bacteria and probiotics that can help keep your digestion as well as babies digestion in check.
As a note: if you notice frequent spitting up, bloody stools, coughing, wheezing, rashes, or discomfort from your baby after breastfeeding, they may be lactose intolerant. Check with your babies physician if you think this may be the case.
Spinach and leafy greens
Spinach and other leafy green vegetables offer so many health benefits for mom and baby I couldn’t even list them all in one post.
They are rich in iron and Vitamins A, C, E and K. They also offer antioxidants and fiber. If you aren’t a fan of leafy greens, try adding them to your smoothy or to a stir fry.
The nice thing is that there are so many types of leafy greens, you can mix it up so you don’t get sick of eating the same ones every day.
Did you know that an avocado contains more potassium than a banana? It is also full of monounsaturated fatty acids which are really good for your heart. There are “good” and there are “bad” fats, and you don’t have to worry about the high fat content in avocados. They are good fats and will only benefit you and baby.
Avocado’s are also loaded with fiber and antioxidants that are beneficial to your eyes.
Another great thing about avocado’s is that they are so versatile. You can add them to toast for breakfast, to your salad or make a delicious guacamole.
Lean Red Meat – beef, lamb, bison
You may notice that most of the foods on this list contain iron. Like I said before, many women are still anemic postpartum and getting that iron in is important for your health and energy levels. Anemia causes fatigue and dizziness and you don’t want that when you are trying to care for your little one.
Beef in particular contains high amounts of iron and in a highly absorbable form.
Lean meats such as beef, lamb and bison contain vitamins B6, B12, niacin and zinc.
Incorporate lean meets into your meals by grilling them, adding them to pastas or rice or simply putting a roast in the oven.
Quinoa is actually one of the most protein rich foods out there. It also contains iron and twice as much fiber as most other whole grains or rice. It contains amino acids and has a low-glycemic index which is good for blood sugar control.
Quinoa is also gluten free which is great for people with a gluten intolerance.
I like to cook a large batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week and use it for breakfast and other meals. Quinoa absorbs whatever flavor you add to it, so it is such a versatile option.
I didn’t eat apricots very often until I started breastfeeding and discovered that they are a prolactin. This means that they trigger a hormone that tells your body to produce more milk.
When eaten raw and whole they contain a lot of fiber which helps with digestion.
Another way to eat apricots is to cook them on the stove until they become jam-like and add them to your oatmeal or yogurt. They are super sweet and a great sugar alternative.
Legumes and beans
People might tell you that legumes and beans will give your baby gas but this has been proven to be false. They may give you gas, but your baby will only receive the health benefits of these foods.
They are full of fiber and protein! They are a less expensive form of protein and offers some variety. Don’t feel like you have to get all of your protein from meat.
I like to add legumes and/or beans to my salads and I have never noticed my babies to be gassy or fussy after breastfeeding.
I always have boiled eggs in my fridge. They are an instant protein boost and contain lots of protein rich calories.
They contain vitamins A, B2, B12 and folic acid.
Rather than grabbing a bag of chips, you are better off eating one or two boiled eggs. The protein will keep you full longer and offer much more nutrition to you and your breastfed baby.
I know that water is not technically a “food” but it definitely needs to be on this list. Make sure you drink at least 8 full glasses of water per day. If you have a hard time keeping up with your water intake, try using a phone app to alert you when your next cup is due. Most of those apps will also help you track your water intake for the day so you know if you are keeping up or not.
Here is a little infographic that summarizes all of the foods listed above so that you can Pin it on Pinterest, print to have with you, or save as an image on your phone:
There are many other great foods that you can and should eat while breastfeeding. The foods listed in this article are just some of my top 11 favorites that I ate most while breastfeeding, but don’t be limited to this list! Try new recipes, new foods and don’t get bored eating the same things.
Like I said before, you can’t eat perfectly clean all the time but you should strive to put good, nutritious food in your body as often as possible (breastfeeding or not).
You will be doing your health a favor, you will feel better and you will naturally maintain your weight as well, on top of working out if you have the time to do it (on top of using a postpartum girdle to really help with getting fit again). Plus, think of all the nutrients you are providing for your baby!