Nutrition For The Nursing Mother
I had the pleasure of sitting in on a great information session with Master Nutrition Therapist, Sara Peternell to hear about how as a mom I can best care for my body and my babies body with a safe postpartum diet. During this session she helped answer common questions and concerns that we often have during our 4th trimester of pregnancy.
When Sara got started, she caught my attention right away by asking us how long we think that the excess estrogen in body, produced while pregnant, stays in our body after we give birth. To all of our surprise she shared with us that estrogen surges in a postpartum mother for three years! Yikes.
I guess that explains all of these feelings surging through my body that I can’t seem to understand. This really is a long time for estrogen to break down and can cause weight gain, imbalances in other hormones and can contribute to irritability, insomnia, brain-fog, and fatigue. I think that most moms can admit to experiencing at least one of those feelings each day. I almost felt better knowing that these hormones were causing the brain-fog I seem to feel everyday instead of early onset Alzheimers.
Just how much estrogen does our body produce while pregnant? Well, apparently a pregnant female produces as much estrogen in her whole pregnancy as a non-pregnant female will produce in her entire life time. While this natural process is a big part of bringing our babies into the world, it is important to try to balance out our estrogen levels. An excess of estrogen in our bodies for too long can lead to health problems like ovarian cysts, breast cancer, PMS and difficulty during menopause. The best way to get your estrogen in check is through a healthy diet that contains a wide varity of nutrients that you and your baby needs. An added benefit to following the postpartum diet plan below is that you will see some weight come off, heal damaged tissues and improve the function of your liver, digestive system, lungs and skin.
My Postpartum Diet Battle
If you were like me, you may have picked up a few unhealthy eating habits while pregnant. For me, I started eating dairy again… lots of dairy. Ice cream was a pretty big staple in my pregnant life, especially as I was pregnant through the summer and lived really close to an amazing ice cream store. I know that dairy does not agree with my body as I suffer from psoriatic arthritis, but while pregnant my symptoms virtually disappeared and I took that as a green light to get that dairy in!
I guess I should not have been surprised when my symptoms returned three months after having my daughter. We also think that she may have a dairy intolerance as well due to her colicky tendencies. In addition to the colic, we are also dealing with thrush on the babies tongue. This is likely due to an imbalance of healthy gut flora in my digestive tract due to that tasty, yet bad ice cream habit I had through the summer. Now, I am ready to tackle this and get back into a healthy and nutritious state I was pre-pregnancy. Not just for me, but also for my baby who depends completely on what I am eating.
Postpartum Diet Checklist
Sara gave us a good list to start us off with on foods to avoid while breastfeeding. Some of these you have heard of before, and others may come as a surprise.
- Sugar and all sugar products (candy, cookies, ICE CREAM, etc.)
- Commercial dairy products*
- Commercial salt and all products high in sodium like processed lunch meats (Instead opt for sea salt)
- Wheat/Gluten* and all products made from wheat
- Caffeine, including coffee, soda and tea. (Wait… coffee? Ahh! This will surely be a challenging one for me, especially as I still wake up every 2-2.5 hours throughout the night and have a business to run from home during the day.)
- Alcohol (You don’t just give up boozing while pregnant…. Maybe just one glass of wine?)
- Corn* and all corn products
- Soy* and all soy products
- Preservatives* (This is found in all packaged and processed foods)
* These foods are often allergens or cause inflammatory responses in our bodies. Even if you did not have issues before with these items, they often can upset a baby’s immature digestive system.
What Is Best To Eat While Breastfeeding?
Well after you cancel out the above, you are pretty much left with vegetables, some fruit, nuts, gluten free grains, legumes and meat or fish. Sara made a point to make sure that when selecting your produce and meats to be sure to get organic foods and meat and fish that is free of antibiotics and hormones. We are after all trying to lower the estrogen hormone in our body.
While Sara did say commercial dairy products are no good, she said that raw dairy products can actually be very good for our digestive systems as long as it does not aggravate you or your baby. I asked her what she thought about sugars in fruits and Sara is okay with nursing mothers having them as they can provide a healthy source of energy…. Just don’t over do it.
In addition to healthy foods, you need to make sure you are getting enough water. Nursing mothers need to drink more water than other people. Sara recommends having about 12 eight-ounce glasses of fluid every day. To help me keep my fluids up, I keep a few water bottles filled around the house, one by my bed, one by my nursing station and a glass wherever else I may be. To remind me to keep drinking, I keep my water pitcher in a visible space on my counter. (Side note: the quality of your water matters. Water from our faucets can contain harmful substances like lead, chlorine and other heavy metals which can pass from you to the baby. Check out my secret to great water.)
If you have a colicky baby like me, you will likely want to get on a good probiotic. Variety in probiotics is key. The more diverse strains you are getting, the better. I really like to drink Inner-Eco which can be found at most grocery stores. We have Sprouts out here that carries it and I know Whole Foods does as well. In addition to Inner-Eco I also like to take Shaklee’s Optiflora Probiotic and Prebiotic Complex. Optiflora Probiotic Complex utilizes patented triple-layer encapsulation technology, designed to deliver live strains of probiotics to the large intestine, where they provide the greatest benefit. I also have drops that I give my daughter each day to make sure we are optimizing our intake. After we got on a good probiotic regime her colic has improved and we rarely have issues unless I sneak in dairy into my diet.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Shaklee Offers Pre and Postnatal Nutrition
It’s never to late to support a healthier baby. Kern Wellness is excited to recommend these supplements to pregnant and lactating women everywhere. Learn more here. You and your baby will thank you!
If you want to set up an appointment with Sara to customize a nutritional diet plan just for you and your family, you can reach her here. Sara also has a great mix of recipes on her Pinterest site for good postpartum diet plans.
Want to learn more about what type of supplements I am on in my postpartum diet plan? Let’s Connect.