How you feed your baby is still up to you, mom. But I salute mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies as nursing can be quite a feat especially for first-time mommas. Most ads advocating breastfeeding only herald its good side. However, derived from my personal experiences with my three kids, nursing a baby can both be beautiful and ugly, lovely and painful and can be costly, too.
Nevertheless, as a mother, I still believe that breast milk is the best food any baby can get, one that formula milks could never emulate. And so, if you are a mother-to-be and is considering breastfeeding, here are the 6 [plus 1] natural foods that are the best when it comes to milk production. Plus, the nutriments contained in these foods will both benefit you and your baby!
1.Foods rich in calcium
Foods rich in calcium are top of the list because obviously, milk must be a good source of calcium particularly for growing babies. One well-known registered dietitian and author insists that nursing mothers MUST get enough calcium from the foods they eat to meet theirs and their babies’ calcium needs.
“This is because if isn’t, it’s both harmful to the mother and the baby. If the mother’s calcium supply is lacking, her body gets what it needs from her bones. This puts her at risk of developing weak bones which, in turn, could lead to conditions like osteoporosis and other bone-decay diseases. Besides, whatever lead the mother has consumed throughout her life are stored in her bones and could resurface in breast milk endangering the nursing baby,” she says.
A 2005 study showed that increasing a mother’s calcium intake helps in reducing the lead contained in her breast milk.
Good Sources: Dairy products, fortified soy and calcium-rich vegetables like kale and spinach and fruits like oranges and kiwis.
- Beans and lentils
As weird as it may sound, breast milk comes from the mother’s blood [don’t let that creep you out!]. And the most vital nutrient to blood production is iron. Beans and lentils are excellent wellsprings for the mineral.
“Ensuring that the nursing mother’s iron supply is enough means a healthy supply of milk and one healthy momma,” says a registered dietitian stressing out that it would benefit mothers who were anemic throughout the duration of their pregnancies and those who lost blood during the delivery.
Aside from iron, beans and lentils are also good sources of calcium, protein, magnesium and vitamin B complex all of which are needed by the growing baby.
- Seeds and nuts
Mothers, I think, would be quite familiar with DHA, an often touted nutrient added to formula milks. The important fatty acid supports brain development that is why it’s a vital milk component. By making sure you have adequate supply of these short-chain fatty acids, you are not only ensuring there is enough for your baby’s developing brain, you are also securing you have enough for your own needs, too.
For one, studies have shown that DHA helps in preventing postpartum depression.
Good Sources: Walnuts, chia seeds and ground flax seedsare rich sources of short-chain Omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re avoiding nuts, sunflower seeds are a good alternative. Aside from DHA and Omega-3, the seeds are also a great source of vitamin E.
- Cold-water fishes
If nuts and seeds provide short-chain Omega-3 acids, cold-water fishes are excellent sources long-chain Omega-3s. Experts agree that nursing moms will most definitely benefit from including salmon or barramundi in their menus as Omega-3 fatty acids are also good for maintaining your heart’s health at the top of the line.
Oats, particularly, steel-cut, not only increases milk production but is also an excellent source of folate [needed for the production of new cells], protein and fiber. Additionally, it helps in blood sugar stabilization, reduces the risk of heart disease and is filled with antioxidants, things that are greatly advantageous for both mommy and baby.
Avocados are packed with fats, the healthy kind. And dietitians agree that nursing moms will benefit from having these kinds of fats in their diet as they help produce healthy energy to get mommies going throughout their days and keep the skin and cells lubricated and hydrated. Aside from the healthy fats, avocados are also packed with fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
Plus – Malunggay [Moringa]
Malunggay or Moringa is a natural galactagogue, meaning, it boosts a nursing mother’s milk supply. While it is commonly found in tropical countries, finding it in its natural leafy form can be a feat in cold countries. You can ask your doctor or a trusted health practitioner for Moringa/malunggay supplements they can recommend for you to use if ever you decide to try this superfood’s ability to increase breast milk production.