There are few things in life that I can confidently say I do well …I make my bed every day, I travel well with children and I can breastfeed like a champ. I have seven children, six biological and one adopted and I have breastfed them all. Two of those children I nursed prior to having a breast augmentation and five I nursed after surgery. I’m currently nursing the adopted newborn after having breastfed each of my other children for a minimum of 12 months.
Perhaps it was Divine Intervention that I was able to breastfeed my new baby. My then 15-month old refused to ween and when we decided to adopt, I just kept her hanging on until he was born. My milk had started to thin at that point so I had to increase my supply which I did with more frequent feedings and more healthy fats. Our adopted son was born full term but only in the 4th percentile. At 10 weeks, he has jumped to the 35th which his pediatrician attributes to “good quality breast milk.” I’ve made house calls to friends in tears, thrown away nipple shields and gone “boob food” grocery shopping for struggling moms. I’ve tried all of the gimmicks and supplements and I can promise that nothing has helped me more than simply altering my diet. You have to eat to make milk. Now is not the time to try a raw foods diet, cleanse or drink only protein shakes for breakfast. Your body needs food to make food.
These are this breastfeeding mama’s super foods for producing milk:
1. Egg and cheese sandwiches…for any meal.
Eggs are high protein, healthy fats that contain omega 3’s while organic and light cheeses also offer protein. The whole grain in the bread help fuel you and combined with the protein, will help reduce sugar cravings. If you eat sugary snacks, you may actually see a reduction in milk.
2. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
I typically eat this at least once a day and many times will eat it again for dinner if it’s a salad and sandwich kind of night. I use Jif Reduced Fat peanut butter on light wheat toast. Again, the protein and healthy fats help to give the milk substance and bananas are great for calcium, iron and potassium. This protein-carb combination also will ward off cravings and just happens to be my go-to pre workout meal.
I like to think my obsession with oatmeal raisin cookies helps supply my milk but I think the healthier alternative to my guilty pleasure is a bowl of cooked oatmeal. Although researchers don’t know exactly why, the results are enough for lactation consultants to recommend it. The theory is that oatmeal is a comfort food that helps you relax, thus releasing oxytocin, needed for production and let down. There are hundreds of recipes, from cookies to muffins, using oatmeal to help increase lactation.
4. Water, water, water
I can’t stress enough the importance of staying hydrated when breastfeeding. Breast milk is 88% water so it makes sense to drink more of the main ingredient. I drink a glass of orange juice at breakfast and then as much water as I can the rest of the day. I don’t drink coffee and I don’t drink alcohol so I pretty much stick to juices and water all day long. I also keep a bottle of water next to bed to drink at night. I notice that if I don’t drink any, my supply is low in the morning and my baby always wants more. To encourage myself to drink more, I get a big bottle of Fiji water and just carry it around during the day.
Lean proteins, especially cold water fatty fish, contain omega-3 fats like DHA and EPA, that are a powerhouse for new moms. DHA is crucial to a baby’s development and although all breastmilk contains DHA, levels of it are higher in the breastmilk of women who get more DHA from their diet. The FDA recommends limiting the amount of fish to two servings a week when breastfeeding.