With the breastfeeding revolution happening in the recent years, motherhood has taken a step towards an even more challenging phase in a woman’s life. Imagine being a milk machine 24/7 on top of all the things you need to do?
Until such time that the baby is ready to have a solid diet, it relies on the mother’s milk for nourishment at all times. This is why you’d often hear breastfeeding moms complain of constant thirst and hunger. The baby’s sucking action triggers the release of oxytocin and prolactin, which then signal the mammary ducts to produce more milk. As milk is produced, nutrients in the mother’s body are entirely used up. For this reason, a breastfeeding mother does not only need to eat more than enough for herself and her baby but also to make sure that she’s getting all the nutrients she needs to sustain her breastfeeding journey.
Eating nutrient-dense superfoods can go a long way in helping with your breastfeeding journey. Superfoods not only increase breastmilk production and nourish you during breastfeeding, but you can also pass all the vitamins and nutrients to your baby, ensuring optimum health for both of you. To achieve this, here are the top six superfoods for nursing moms:
Oatmeal – as a whole grain, oatmeal is a must superfood for breastfeeding moms because (1) it boosts oxytocin production, and (2) it prevents the occurrence of iron deficiency anemia. Oatmeal is rich in protein, fiber, iron, carbohydrates, and phytochemicals. It is a natural lactogenic, so that it can increase the production of milk by boosting oxytocin. As most nutrients go to the baby during breastfeeding, mothers usually experience iron deficiency anemia. Oatmeal helps prevent this with its iron content. It lowers cholesterol and promotes proper digestion and reduces constipation.
Oatmeal is a comfort food, and any thought of comfort induces a relaxed demeanor. This then promotes oxytocin production, which increases milk supply. More milk means a happier baby and mommy!
Turmeric – Turmeric has long been used as a galactagogue, a milk production booster. Turmeric is also effective in the prevention of breast engorgement and mastitis, which often occur in lactating moms. But another benefit of turmeric for lactating moms is its high anti-inflammatory content, which will significantly boost health and provide protection against sickness. Staying healthy all throughout the breastfeeding period is important so the baby’s health won’t be compromised as well.
Avocado – it’s a known fact that avocados pack a powerhouse of nutrients. In avocados, it’s the folate and monounsaturated fats that bring this superfood at the forefront of superfoods for breastfeeding moms. Folic acid helps in the proper development and growth of infants, while the monounsaturated fats nourish both mother and child, while ensuring that a steady stream of breastmilk is available. This healthy fat is also great for restoring balance in cholesterol levels for a healthy heart.
Spinach – among the many green leafy vegetables, spinach tops the list. But what makes this leafy vegetable great for breastfeeding moms is its rich folate and phytoestrogen content. Folic acid helps keep you healthy by producing red blood cells. Phytoestrogen on the other hand helps promote better lactation. To boot, spinach is rich in iron, calcium, and vitamins A and K.
Seeds and nuts – almonds, cashew, walnuts, chia seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds are just some of the most nutritious seeds and nuts that will benefit nursing moms. For example, almonds contain monounsaturated fats that improve the breastmilk’s quality. While fennel seeds can increase breastmilk supply. Fenugreek is a known galactagogue, promoting milk production, plus eliminating post-delivery complications. All in all, seeds and nuts are packed with nutrients that provide sufficient nourishment for the breastfeeding mom and the baby.
Garlic – Just like most of the superfoods mentioned here, garlic is a great galactagogue in that it has the capacity to boost breastmilk production, and it is not even necessary to consume lots of it to do so. Past studies have even shown that infants were observed to stay latched on their mother’s breast for a longer period of time. It is a fact that the more sucking sensation there is, the more milk is produced. However, since garlic has a pungent odor, this can probably alter the smell and taste of breastmilk. If there is a change in your baby’s breastfeeding habits, then you might want to reconsider taking garlic as a galactagogue.
Tip: When breastfeeding, it’s quite normal to feel thirsty all the time, so make sure to drink as much water as you need, even if it exceeds the daily recommended intake. Also increase your intake of healthy fruit juices and soups to replenish the lost liquid used up during breastmilk production.
Breastmilk is the best gift you can possibly give to your child, and breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful moments between a mother and child as it establishes that unique strong bond you exclusively share. Yes, breastfeeding may be challenging, but with the help of these superfoods, you can rest easy that your lil’ bundle of joy is getting all the milk he needs.
My name is Sarah Burgess and I’m a health and nutrition specialist and enthusiast. I did my PhD at the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University and finished in 2015 and now I’ve been writing for Slowfoodnation since 2017. Apart from writing on blogs about health, superfood and nutrition, I love to exercise, running and pilates are two of my true addictions! I believe we create our own luck and everyone have the potential to reach true potential and be the best version of ourselves.