If you breastfeed you probably can relate to the number one thing most nursing mama’s out there (and you) are asking, thinking and worried about postpartum – milk supply!
You’ve likely read and seen lots online about lactation cookies, milk boosting foods, and how breastfeeding can both help promote weight loss and prevent mama’s to hold onto those last few pounds. While getting back to our pre-mama bodies creeps into all our minds reminding ourselves daily that a healthy babe is the priority helps make things better, but not always easier. Losing weight while breastfeeding can be a little tricky, especially since you want to eat well to boost supply and nourish your baby.
The biggest overarching principle I advocate around this is that if you fuel your body with clean, wholesome foods that keep you full and satisfied you will both avoid derailing your exercise efforts and have an easier time getting back to feeling like the best version of your sleepless self.
When it comes down to it, there is a LOT to talk about on this topic, so let’s just start with the basics of fueling and losing weight while breastfeeding:
- Breastfeeding makes you HUNGRY. Like, really hungry. Are you with me?
- You burn, on average, 20 calories per ounce of breastmilk. This means you’re either in a daily calorie deficit or you’re overeating to make up with the constant burn.
Certain herbs, classified as galactagogues, are proven to boost mother’s supply.
These herbs include: fennel, fenugreek, hops (hello beer!), and red raspberry leaf. Find these herbs in many “mothers milk” tea’s.
- Certain foods have been proved to boost mother’s supply. These foods include oats, brewers yeast, and ground flax.
- Unless your child has been diagnosed with a sensitivity to antibodies from dairy (you’ll know if this is the case with signs like bloody stool and your Dr. will confirm), there are no special foods to avoid; Typically nursing mama’s can eat EVERYTHING in moderation.
Triggering weight loss while breastfeeding requires focus on satiating foods and limiting excessive refined sugar.
Because you’re constantly a hungry sleepless mama, bullet point 6 can be easy in theory and impossible in practice. Set yourself up for success by batch cooking meals that include the following nutrients (see food ideas and recipes that follow).
- High Protein
- Eggs (aim for at least 1 egg per day and eat the whole egg, yolk included!)
- Organic yogurt
- Salmon (boost of healthy omega-3s are good for baby!)
- Lean meat such as skinless chicken
- Hummus (any beans!)
- Protein powder (make a smoothie or just mix with water or coconut water for a quick energy boost)
- High Fiber
- Oats (try overnight oats, baked oats or slow cooker oats for quick grabs)
- Ground flax (stir into yogurt, oatmeal and smoothies)
- Vegetables (meal prep salads and roasted veggies to have on hand and grab throughout the week)
- Whole fruits (berries and apples are top choice for higher fiber lower sugar)
- Whole grains (whole grain brown rice, quinoa)
- Water. and more water.
Breastfeeding sucks all the water out of your body and leaves you a shriveled thirsty mama. and thirst can trick you into thinking you’re hungry. Drink at least 8 ounces of water before every meal.
It’s a lot to take it but i’m leaving you with this:
You’re burning, on average 200-500 calories (sometimes even more) daily just by breastfeeding. Add in some exercise and you’re going to be adding additional stress onto your already hard working body and requiring a lot of calories just to maintain your energy levels. I can’t stress enough that instead of focusing on calorie counting and restricting in an effort to get back your pre-baby body that you actually don’t restrict at all. Instead focus on quality. Eat whole, nourishing real foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Skip the packaged cookies and chips and breads and cereals. etc. Eat real foods and as much as you need to feel satisfied and full and your body will respond accordingly. And, you’re likely even start to see the results you’re looking for. Eat up, mamas!