After a 2 month hiatus (during which I delivered another baby girl), I’m back in the blogosphere! Well, kind of. I used my charm and new mom survival skills to convince a friend or two to pen guest posts and show off their expertise. This means you get more useful information to add to your mama arsenal without the incoherent, typo-laden babble that would surely spew out of my sleep deprived brain. First up: my friend and fitness colleague, and the momtrepreneur behind Holistic Roots Nutrition in Boulder, CO, Sara Kosick. I asked her to devise a meal plan that would help me lose babyweight while protecting my milk supply, and she delivered. Here’s her take on nutrition after childbirth – and she’s generously giving away a meal plan and recipes on her website for the next TWO WEEKS ONLY, until January 18. Check it out!
New Mommy Diet
You spent the better part of a year growing a tiny human, congratulations!!
You stressed about every single thing you did, worried about every situation, every piece of food, every sip of wine (yes you had sips of wine), every dose of headache reducing Tylenol, all to make sure this baby came out with 10 fingers and 10 toes! Well the baby is out, you’re onto breastfeeding, hooray! But then you realize your diet gets even stricter when you’re breastfeeding, and balancing your caloric intake with foods that don’t make your baby colicky or projectile puking all over you, is a very VERY slippery slope. Not to mention us new mommies are simply dying to get our pre-baby bod’s back like yesterday! So what do you do?
*Slim down the last 10 pounds of baby weight
*Provide adequate healthy milk for your baby
*Eat foods that don’t cause your baby to be irritated
*Feel strong and empowered by mastering this balancing act!
I have had numerous mama’s ask: what should I eat to support my milk supply, but also tone up my postpartum body? That’s where this post is going. What to eat to feel your best and perform your best as a new mommy?!
First of all, going on a “diet” or extremely restricted caloric intake is a BAD idea for you mama: and this is in no way what I’m suggesting in the following info. Remember that each woman is an individual; each mama will eat different portions of food to feel supported; each mama will exercise in different ways to feel like they’re getting what they need; and if you’ve learned anything through pregnancy it’s that you have to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! That being said, if you’re hungry- you need to eat, if you’re tired- you need to sleep, if you need a mommy break- make sure you can arrange a little help to give yourself the time YOU need to remain a sane, happy mama!
Eat. Eat Real Food. Eat Real Food Often. It’s that simple 🙂 Good luck…just kidding! I know it feels more complicated than that, but if we could narrow it down this is how simple it would be. Let’s get into the basics for a healthy new mama diet ehe?!
*Vegetables. You need lots of them, like every time you eat (every time) you should consider vegetables being there someway, somehow. Some vegetables can cause our babies to be colicky, especially the cruciferous family (brussel’s sprouts, kale, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli). The irony is that these foods are extremely high in nutrients; iron, vitamin K, vitamin C, and folic acid. I’d highly recommend you not taking them all our if you have a colicky or spit upy child, but experiment and see if it get better.
*Animal Protein. Yes, animal protein (not soy, or beans, or nuts as a substitute- unless you’re a vegetarian then we need to talk!) Just like pregnancy, you needed protein to build every tiny bone, ligament, brain cell, and finger nail; you need adequate whole protein sources to generate healthy milk and to sustain your energy! Fish, organic chicken, organic eggs, grass fed beef; all great options and should be consumed daily.
*Omega’s/EFA’s/FAT! Baby’s need fat to build brain and nerve function, and 50 % of the calories in your milk are fat! It is not advantageous for you to become a “fat-phobic” mama in order to attempt weight loss. First of all, cutting out fat does not equate to weight loss or fat mass loss. Second of all, your baby needs it, so the good sources are: fatty fish, raw nuts & seeds, avocados, olive oil, and coconut. And please take a fish oil with a combination of DHA/EPA at 1,000mg per serving daily.
*Fruit. Be careful here, as fruit is all sugar. Fructose has a laundry list of negative impacts on our physiology, but I’m not trying to completely eliminate fruit from your diet only make you cautious on your daily intake. I suggest 1-2 servings per day- that’s it! It’s a great habit to get into so you can practice with your child when they start to eat solids! Typically, tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and banana are higher in sugar and you should avoid them. My go-to’s are berries, apples, and pears.
*Whole Grains/Otherwise “Carby-Stuff”. It is not my professional or personal recommendation that you consume 6-10 servings of grains per day (as so diligently suggested by the FDA since the 50’s). I don’t think you need grains every day, and I don’t think you need gluten EVER! Sometimes, just like pregnancy, we do need to eat some healthy carbohydrates, and in this case I suggest organic brown rice and sweet potatoes. All of the crackers, chips, pretzels, sweets, or otherwise known as “snacks” are empty calories and will not provide your baby with anything useful, nor will it help with your 10lb slim down 🙂
*Calcium-rich Foods. Contrary to popular belief, this is not restricted to dairy products. And as you’ll see below, I don’t suggest dairy be a staple in your diet anyway. SO, you need to consume other calcium-rich foods like; leafy greens, oats, sardines, molasses, beets, nuts, and sesame seeds.
Foods to Avoid to Keep Your Nursing Baby Happy!
Keep in mind, some baby’s will be colicky or spit up until their 7 months old (my baby:)) no matter what you change in your diet. But it doesn’t hurt to experiment with eliminating the following foods to see if there’s an improvement in their behavior patterns.
Dairy. I don’t suggest any of my clients eat dairy (pregnant, nursing, male, female, young, old). It’s an extremely common allergen and especially for newborns. The amount they get through your breast milk if you are eating dairy is enough to cause diaper rash, colic, reflux, digestive discomfort, or sleep disturbances. I don’t suggest cow’s milk (or goat or sheep) be introduced at all in the first year; and if possible not at all until the age of 2.
Caffeine. Coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks, and even some cold medications contain caffeine which your babies can be extremely sensitive to.
Grains & Nuts. These two foods groups contain the most common allergens known to mankind; GLUTEN & PEANUTS. But it’s not just limited to these two popular offenders. As more people choose alternatives to gluten and peanut products there are more and more developing issues with almonds, and gluten free flours. CORN is a big culprit in baby and mama allergens as well.
Spicy Foods. Spicy foods can make your milk taste very different and unpalatable to your baby causing them to eat less. For this I simply say, keep your spicy or ethnic foods to a minimum.
Gassy Foods. As mentioned above, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale can cause some digestive upset in your baby. Onions, garlic, green peppers may cause irritation as well. The good news is, the more you cook these veggies down the less likely it will cause a response in your baby. It is the raw form that is typically most offensive.
Foods to Increase Milk Production!
If you are having trouble keeping your milk supply up, looking to your diet is always helpful! The following foods will promote or hinder your ability to produce good milk for your baby.
*Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Red Raspberry, and Brewers Yeast (containing B vitamins). All have been used by moms for hundred of years with varying degrees of success. It is typically recommended that mothers try Fenugreek capsules (2-3 capsules taken 3 times daily) along with Blessed Thistle tablets (same dosage). You many want to add Brewers Yeast to your meals and Red Raspberry tea several times each day. Fenugreek is rated GRAS (generally regarded as safe), but when taken in large doses may cause lowered blood sugar, so should be used with caution by diabetics. It is in the same family with peanuts and chickpeas, and may cause an allergic reaction in moms who are allergic to them.
*Fennel. Supports a happy digestive tract and helps calm digestive distress in both mom and baby. You can eat fennel raw, cooked, or dried and ground.
Changing your diet is a BIG ordeal, no to mention changing it under the influence of no sleep, a completely dependent nursing baby, lack of motivation, possibly depression, and a million other hormonal disclaimers that come along with being a new mom! But, even making some changes is better than none, and will likely make you feel better and more motivated to start making some more! So start where you can, and go easy on yourself, you’re doing an AMAZING job 🙂