We’re excited to welcome guest author Becky Cannon, Founder of i play, inc., to the Aeroflow Breastpumps blog this week as part of our March series, “Women Behind the Pump.” Below, Becky shares her expertise on the foods that can help to produce nutrient-dense breast milk for your baby.
Nurturing Your Breastmilk
After my daughter, Emi, gave birth to my granddaughter, Naomi, I “expressed” my love for them by cooking nourishing foods to help jumpstart her breastfeeding with an extra nutritional boost for them both.
Because my new granddaughter was only four pounds at birth, I felt a tremendous concern, responsibility, and opportunity to help her thrive through my efforts in cooking to enrich Emi’s milk.
For Naomi’s first ten days of her life, I made all the meals that her mother ate. I had to make every bite count, so I focused on “nutrient-dense” foods that would support Emi’s lactation, Naomi’s growth and development, and aid in restoring Emi’s health and healing after childbirth.
As I cooked, I thought about foods to make rich, nutrient-dense breast milk for best nutrition. I took into account healthy seasonings for delicious flavor and for a harmonious feeling. I considered smooth digestion for optimal nutrition, and liquids for breast milk flow. Below you will find many of my favorite foods to help support healthy breast milk production.
Nutrient-dense Breast Milk for Best Nutrition
Foods Rich in Complex Carbohydrates
Whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, millet, quinoa, and especially brown sweet rice, offer essential nutrients in the form of complex carbohydrates. You can either soak grains for 6-48 hours or purchase sprouted grains to boost bioavailability of nutrients.
Foods Rich in Protein
Breast milk or formula is your baby’s main source of protein for the first 12 months. Within the wide range of animal and plant-based protein-rich foods, you can find your own choices of foods for healthy growth and development that match your lifestyle. Choose from legumes, soy-based products, such as tofu, miso, and tempeh, seeds, dairy foods, eggs, fish, chicken, beef, and pork.
Foods Rich in Minerals
Leafy greens, sea vegetables, root, and above-the-ground vegetables, fish, beans, nuts, and whole grains provide calcium and other minerals needed for growth of your new baby’s bones, muscles, skin, and organs.
Healthy Seasonings for Delicious Flavor and a Harmonious Feeling
Foods Rich in Healthy Fats
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vital to the healthy function of your baby’s immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems. Seeds and nuts, unrefined vegetable oils, and avocados offer healthy fats for sustained energy and satisfaction.
Because babies are attracted to the sweetness of breast milk, you can help your baby get in sync with nursing by eating foods that are naturally sweet. Cooked fruit, sweet potatoes, and other sweet vegetables, desserts made with natural sweeteners, such as maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, or honey can help sweeten your milk to satisfy and nourish your baby.
Salt gives strength, vitality, and energy to power your baby’s body movement, and neural development. The quality of salt you eat can affect your baby’s physical, emotional, and mental health through your breast milk. Monitoring your baby’s sodium intake can be one of the most difficult ingredients to manage. Your baby needs salt for growth and development, but too much can cause irritability and sleeplessness. Check your baby’s bowel movements for tracking salt intake.
Smooth Digestion for Optimal Nutrition
Foods Rich in Lactobacillus
Breast milk, especially colostrum, is your baby’s first fermented food that provides a wealth of bacteria. You can support your baby’s immunity and digestion by eating fermented foods yourself, while breastfeeding. Have some yogurt, miso soup, sauerkraut, and other pickled vegetables, along with probiotics every day for you and your baby’s gut health.
Foods that Create Gas
When your baby is born, her digestive system is still developing in the first year. Many of her adjustments to the world are related to digestion. The foods you eat can help or hinder her digestion adjustment—and she may be sensitive to some typical hard-to-digest foods and not others. You can pay attention to what you eat and her response by eliminating one food at a time. Dairy foods, spicy foods, cruciferous vegetables, corn, wheat products, eggs and legumes can be culprits.
Liquids for Breastmilk Flow
Drinking plenty of liquids gives your body the fluids necessary to start your milk flowing. Low acid-producing drinks, such as filtered water, coconut water, herb tea, vegetable juice, vegetable or soup broth are nourishing and help maintain a balanced condition for your baby. Warm or hot drinks are more soothing to your digestive system, while cold beverages can upset your stomach. Alcohol and caffeine pass into your bloodstream, which could affect your baby.
Foods with Juicy, Soft Textures
Nutritious whole foods cooked with a soft, moist consistency, such as soups, stews, and sauces cooked thoroughly, also offer fluids for breast milk flow.
Below are a few of my favorite breastmilk boosting recipes:
- Hearty Miso Soup for Nursing Mamas
- Mochi for Nursing Mamas
- Steamed Kale for Nursing Mamas
- Nurse and Nourish Organic Whole Grains
About the Author
Becky Cannon is an entrepreneur, author, mother, grandmother, and advocate for natural living. Her company, i play, Inc. has been developing healthy and practical baby products since 1982, along with resources to support natural parenting with ease. She is also the author of Grow Healthy Grow Happy™ The Whole Baby Guide, which is a complete resource for parents to give their babies a healthy beginning for the first three years. Becky holds Bachelor of Science degrees in both Child Development and Education and has a Master of Science in Organizational Development.