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  • Fanny

Food during breastfeeding

Updated: Aug 28, 2023



For thousands of years in mammals, a baby's natural food has been its mother's milk.
In today's society, where we have lost some sense of community, breastfeeding can sometimes be a challenge for families and mothers.

Getting informed
In addition to the daily life with a baby there are many questions that remain about breastfeeding

Fortunately, it is always possible to get information during the pregnancy that parents and relatives can have information to accompany the first moments of the baby's life and why not move towards attachment parenting.

I strongly advise future parents to explore these breastfeeding tips during pregnancy:
- Talk to caring parents who have chosen to breastfeed, who have experience with this
- Read books on the subject ('The art of breastfeeding' for example)
- Join meetings about parents who have chosen to breastfeed: Leche League association offers meetings so that parents, and especially mothers, can exchange and share on various questions about breastfeeding and attachement parenting through breastfeeding
- Visit the website www.lll.org, which is a rich source of free information

Finally, trust nature and remember that all mammals breastfeed their babies. Connect with yourself and listen to your intuition.

What food to choose during breastfeeding?
The next question that often arises is... what to eat when breastfeeding:
- Can I eat everything?
- Can my baby get bloated if I eat cauliflower?
- Can I eat foods like garlic, chilli, parsley and many others?
- Can I add juices, sprouts, seaweed and lots of raw food to my diet?

During breastfeeding, as during pregnancy, it will be helpful for the mother to have a rich diet in nutrients and vitamins to meet her own needs and those of her baby.

Overall, there is no need to "eat for two" at all during pregnancy as during breastfeeding. A moderate increase in food intake is quite sufficient: Eat twice as "better" but not twice as much!
The diet that is good for pregnant and breastfeeding women is the same for everyone and should be adapted according to the temperament, physical activity and tolerance of each individual.
I accompany, among others, breastfeeding women and families in naturopathic consultations to find the diet that suits them best.

Good nutrition means a varied and well-balanced diet, with food served in a state as close as possible to its natural state. This applies for everyone whether or not you are breastfeeding, and covers a very wide range of food choices.

Above all, it will help to look for quality rather than quantity!

Of course, a rich diet in vitality and raw foods will be of great benefit to both mother and baby and even the rest of the family.

It has been found that the period of pregnancy and breastfeeding is often an opportunity for women and families to make dietary changes.

Some mothers may find that certain foods seem to cause adverse reactions in the baby (allergies, colic...), or there is simply a awareness-raising that the diet of the family could be improved for the benefit of all members. Indeed, we ask ourselves more questions because we are well aware that what we eat will have an influence on the quality of the milk that we give to our child and later, during the diversification of food, we often wish to offer healthy and quality foods to our little gourmets in search of gustatory discoveries.

Even if the mom is poorly nourished, the mother milk remains the best food for the baby above powder milk... Of course taking care of your diet is even better. Recent studies seem to indicate that the mother's diet may not be without consequences for the child's health. *1

During pregnancy and once the baby arrives, you may be bombarded with all kinds of advice, including dietary advice. Everyone has their own experience and it is important to remember that there is not only one holy truth. Trust yourself, read, question, keep your critical mind. You may be told that you should eat this or that food to stimulate your lactation, or that you should absolutely avoid this or that food. The only truth will come from your experience and your feelings...

CHOOSE NATURAL FOOD

A healthy, natural diet will bring many benefits to the whole family, including the child who will soon be sharing the family meals. Everyone will benefit.

A woman who is not strict about her diet can still breastfeed successfully. However, it is important to remember that good nutrition also helps the mother to stay healthy.

The word "natural" can have many meanings. Keep in mind that natural food is first and foremost as unprocessed as possible.

There is no food that should be "banned", but use common sense.

Alcohol, tobacco, drugs: it is advisable to avoid the consumption of these products during the breastfeeding period. Whether you smoke or not, it is still best to breastfeed. Of course, it is even better to stop smoking.
Alcohol and the vast majority of drugs can leave big traces into breast milk, so it is better for the baby's (and mum's) health to avoid their consumption.

Freshness: fresh food tastes better, contains more vitamins and is less likely to be oxidised or spoilt by storage, transport and handling.
The shorter the time between harvest and consumption of a fruit/vegetable, between production and use, the healthier the food.

No additives: Additives should be limited. The use of preservatives extends the shelf life of a food, sometimes by simply masking the natural deterioration processes. The preservative itself is usually not beneficial to our health, and the food product containing it is always of a lower nutritional quality than the same fresh product. Do you think that a "fresh" food that can be stored for several weeks can really be natural and full of vitality? Garden tomatoes don't keep for long, yet some supermarket tomatoes never seem to go mouldy! This is a sign that the food is alive (it is born, it ages, it dies).

Flavours and colourings improve the smell and appearance of industrial preparations. Some colourings are made of plant origin and do not usually cause too many problems. Artificial colours can cause hypersensitivity and similar problems. Other types of additives are used to increase texture: softness, crispness or flavour. It is difficult to measure the real health impact of these additives. As a preventive measure, it seems useful to avoid them.

Dehydration and freezing are the best ways to keep food fresh and retain as many vitamins and minerals as possible.
Take advantage of the peak season to stock up on dried fruits and other preparations of all kinds based on seasonal fruits and vegetables (raw crackers, wraps, leather dried fruits and other inventive raw recipes).

Whole foods: Whole foods are minimally processed. They retain most of the nutrients present in the original food, it is not "refined".
Today it is common to eat bread and pasta made with white flour, obtained by removing the germ and bran from the wheat, white rice without the bran, refined white sugar and salt, oils refined by thermal and chemical processes. Many of the fatty acids in refined oils and margarines are present in a form that cannot be used by our bodies. White sugar and flour provide calories, but most other nutrients are lost.
All these processed, overcooked, preserved and modified foods offer very little in the way of healthful nutrients.

It is also important for the health of our digestive system to consume dietary fibre, found in fruit and vegetables, which is usually removed during refining.

Endocrine disruptors: It will also be useful to pay particular attention to the various endocrine disruptors that could be found in breast milk or be in direct contact with baby: in your food, with pesticides, dyes as well as in food containers, kitchen utensils, food packaging. ..etc, but also in your environment through paints and other volatile chemical substances, glues, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) present in furniture and other items, in addition chemicals present in cosmetics, household products, clothing and so on...

Pollutants: Integrated and organic farming aim to eliminate or limit pesticides, insecticides and chemical fertilisers, so they are more natural.
As pesticides and other chemicals are concentrated in the fat of the animals that eat the food, their diet is also important.
For both animal and plant products, organic farming certification helps to ensure that pollutants are minimised. Reducing the consumption of animal fats and red meat further reduces the consumption of such substances.

Apart from that, there is no real food to ban. If you have eaten garlic, cabbage or chilli during your pregnancy, continue to do so! Your child has become accustomed to these flavours during pregnancy!

DIETARY ADVICE FOR THE BREASTFEEDING MOTHER

Mothers can eat:
- Many fresh, ripe and tasty fruits: as a snack, in salads, in smoothies (apples, pears, persimmons, peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, figs, coconuts, bananas, papayas, passion fruit, pineapples, mangoes, kiwi, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, blueberries, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, etc.)
- Dried fruits: eaten alone or incorporated into preparations (dates, apricots, sultanas, apples, pears, bananas, mangoes, dried pineapples, etc.)
- Seeds and oilseeds, ideally soaked overnight (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, sunflowers, sesame seeds, etc.)
- Vegetables in the form of fresh juice, simple or mixed salads, possibly lightly steamed
- Sprouted seeds (in quantity)
- Many living foods are rich in calcium and protein: green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard, kale, etc.), almonds, walnuts, dried figs, sesame seeds, many seaweeds and sprouted seeds.

Test, vary, invent, be creative and have fun with this wide range of fresh, lively and healthy ingredients!

SPROUTED SEEDS AND BREASTFEEDING
Sprouted seeds are a real concentrate of vitamins and minerals and are therefore an ideal food for the breastfeeding mother.
- Fenugreek and fennel are sprouted seeds known for their action on lactation. They stimulate milk production and can therefore be recommended during breastfeeding.
- Fenugreek brings a spicy touch and slightly perfumes the odor of your sweat ;-)
- Fennel will also have beneficial effects on the digestive system.

RECOMMENDED DRINKS

It is recommended to avoid stimulating drinks (tea, coffee, alcohol) and to prefer water and herbal teas.

Water requirements will be increased for the production of breast milk.
It is very common for mothers to feel very thirsty during feeds.
It is therefore important to always have water at hand: ideally water with a low mineral content, free of chlorine, pesticide residues and medicines.

There is a wide range of herbal teas available and they can be adapted to suit the mother's individual needs (herbal teas to help digestion, sleep, circulation, etc.): ask a naturopath or a midwife trained in herbal medicine for advice.
In general, if you have no particular problem, you can consume mint, lemon verbena, rosemary, thyme, lime, hibiscus or fennel for example.

Depending on the stage of your pregnancy, certain plants may be useful to accompany you and prepare you for childbirth, for example.

SNACKS AND CRAVINGS

Just as during pregnancy, it is common for a breastfeeding mother to experience small cravings or the need to have snacks regularly. Fresh fruit, dried fruit and seeds are ideal snacks for mum's hunger and gradually for the growing child's hunger.

What to avoid when having "cravings" for industrial and refined foods such as biscuits, sweets and pastries? Always have healthy snacks available in your bag!
This advice is valid for the mother, but of course also for the children who are growing up!

WEIGHT

Another important advantage of keeping a healthy diet during breastfeeding is the loss of excess weight during pregnancy.

Most women are overweight at the end of their pregnancy. This weight will be gradually used up during the months of breastfeeding, so that the daily diet does not have to cover all nutritional needs.

It is normal, natural and physiological to gain weight during pregnancy, as the woman's body is building up reserves in preparation for breastfeeding. Many women who are breastfeeding see their excess weight slowly disappear in a few months, without any effort or drastic dieting! It is also possible to change your diet gently during this period. Don't be afraid to turn to a more plant-based, living and varied diet!
And if you are afraid of losing too much weight, think about nuts, fat-rich avocados and eat several meals/snacks a day.

In brief, remember that a varied, balanced and natural diet is ideal during breastfeeding. Add living and plant-based foods and remember that it will be useful to pay attention to the quality of the food rather than the quantity you eat.

I offer individual consultations to accompany your breastfeeding project in a naturopathic way and to take care of your health while respecting your rhythm and the rhythm of the whole family.


Fanny RUSSAOUEN MARTINS
Naturopath, Hygienist, specialised in women and children's health
Pre-conception, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Children, Teenagers, Puberty, Menopause
Fasting courses in Portugal
Remote consultations


Contact: fannynaturo@mailo.com 06.64.23.11.38

Sources :
La Leche League Association website: www.lll.org

*1 : https://www.lllfrance.org/vous-informer/fonds-documentaire/allaiter-aujourd-hui-extraits/1987-aa-113-breves-alimentation-de-la-mere-qui-allaite



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