There are some nutrients for breastfeeding women to consider to support baby’s growth and development as well as their own wellbeing.
Iodine is used for the development of the nervous system during pregnancy so mums can become a little low in iodine after the birth which can impact thyroid function. Even though some degree of fatigue is to be expected post-partum, optimising thyroid function by ensuring good iodine intake can surely help. Iodine is rich in seaweed such as you find in Japanese food. Seaweed salads, nori (around sushi) and Wakame (in miso soup) are good sources and we have our own NZ Karengo and the fronds are tasty enough and mild enough to sprinkle over salads or all kinds. It even tastes good over a roast vegetable salad with sliced avocado and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Fish Oil is an important nutrient for the brain of the baby. Because it is used up during pregnancy, some women find their skin becoming dry and itchy post-partum – this is a good indicator that you need to top up. Good food sources include sardines, kahawau, wild salmon and kingfish.
Protein is especially important for breastfeeding women as they commonly snack throughout the day and mealtimes can be interrupted. As a result protein intake can be sporadic in the first few months post-partum. Good pretein intake is important for energy, mood, tissue repair, to keep blood sugar stable and to prevent carbohydrate cravings, especially sugar. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs, hummus, nut, tofu, seed and whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice.
Spicy foods are good for breastfeeding mothers to avoid as they can cause colicky symptoms in many babies. Some women find during pregnancy that they start losing a good deal of hair and they feel more tired than they should. With this the hair and skin can become dry and dull looking. Many women find that these things improve well with a good dose of B complex and sometimes zinc is needed as well. If colic is a big issue and your baby always appears to be in discomfort after eating, often cries after eating and commonly vomits or spills the milk, there may be some simple dietary issues that will resolve this. If a breastfeeding mum eliminates dairy and gluten from her diet for one week you may witness some rapid and dramatic improvements. If this is correct solution, one week is plenty of time to notice improvements and most notice it within the first couple of days. A welcome ‘side effect’ is that babies often start to sleep better as they settle down to relaxing feeds.