8 Nutrients Moms Need if They Plan on Breastfeeding

8 Nutrients Moms Need if They Plan on Breastfeeding

Nutrition in the postpartum period while nursing has its own important considerations. Most importantly, you need to understand that you must take care of yourself if you are going to take care of others. The issues of not doing this may not show up right away, but over time you will end up worn out with wacky hormones and nutrient deficiencies. I’m saying this from personal experience.

When I gave birth to Noah, I wanted to be the mom that “does it all”. I would nurse through the night, wake up with everyone, refused naps, took care of the house during the day, and tried to get back to exercising as soon as possible. While pregnant, I also decided I wanted to run a marathon at 6 months postpartum. This meant getting up early on weekends and running more miles than I think my body wanted to handle at the time. Plus, I had a great deal of stress from the nursing issues Noah and I dealt with. My adrenals were taxed. In my pregnancy, I only gained 20 lbs, and I lost 15 right away. For awhile, I couldn’t figure out why that last 5 was sticking, and I think it was my increasing cortisol from stressing my body so much. Around 1 year postpartum, I started taking a Vitamin C fruit powder (100% Camu Camu), and I felt rushes of energy from the glutathione increase. I knew at that point my body had been under a great deal of stress and hadn’t has the resources or time to recover. Vitamin C supports our adrenal glands that produce cortisol. An excessive amount of cortisol can cause problems with other hormones, especially progesterone. It can cause fatigue, mood issues, low sex drive, PMS, anxiety, focus issues, and weight issues. I found that taking Vitamin Code’s B Complex also really helped. It is important to make sure you are taking a quality B Complex because the sources of certain B vitamins like folate (b9) and methylcobalamine (b12) are very important. Many commercial vitamins contain folic acid and cyanocobalamine, and these forms are not absorbed as well because they need to be converted. For those with MTHFR, like me, we can’t convert them and taking these forms are not only worthless but potentially detrimental because our body thinks vitamins are coming to the receptors, which stops our bodies from absorbing the proper forms in adequate quantities. Some specific B vitamins in relation to adrenals are B5 and B12. The best sources of B5 is liver, avocado, sunflower seeds, and liver and salmon contain B12. I know many people are squeamish when it comes to liver, but you can make burgers or meatloaf using a 1/4 lb of liver with 3/4 lb of beef. In these ratios, it is hidden and you will not taste it.

Iron is another nutrient that you may need extra quantities of. Depending on how much blood you lost during labor or if you had an iron deficiency during pregnancy, you should increase your intake of leafy greens, broccoli, and red meats. The iron from these will be better absorbed if you pair them with Vitamin C foods like fruit, tomatoes, and peppers.

For both your supply and postpartum recovery, iodine is very important. For nursing, iodine supports the mammary glands and production of milk. Having adequate supply in your milk also supports your babies grain growth and thyroid. Many mothers find that they deal with a bout of hypothyroidism postpartum, and iodine can minimize or prevent that issue. Selenium is also a thyroid supporting nutrient. Eating 2-3 brazil nuts should provide you with the selenium you need. Iodine can be found in seaweed snacks or seafood. You can also buy kelp flakes to sprinkle on food like salt.

Fat is also good for both postpartum recovery and supply. After birth, our hormone levels drop significantly, which can lead to postpartum depression in many women. Our breastmilk also contains 3-5% fat with half of that being saturated fat. Your baby needs a ton of fat to grow, especially their brain. Without proper fats in the diet, this can lead to hormone issues and a fatty acid deficiency. These affect mental health and energy levels. So, you should incorporate avocado, grass-fed butter, coconut, nuts and seeds into your diet. You may find at first you need more, especially of saturated animal fats like butter, and then, you may need less as you correct any deficiency. Eating fat will not mean you gain weight. In my case, correcting my fatty acid deficiency helped me lose the last 5 pounds of baby weight because my hormones were working better. Than, when my weight started to creep up again, I knew I needed to lower my fat intake.

So, here is a run down of what you should consider.

  • For Supply:
    • Iodine – seaweed snacks, seafood
    • Healthy Fats – avocado, grass-fed butter, coconut, nuts, seeds
  • For Postpartum:
    • Iron – leafy greens, red meat, broccoli
    • Healthy Fats – avocado, grass-fed butter, coconut, nuts, seeds
    • Selenium – brazil nuts
    • Iodine – seaweed, seafood
    • B Vitamins – supplement, liver (B12 & B5), sunflower seeds (B5), avocado (B5)
    • Vitamin C – Camu Camu, fruit, vegetables

Make sure take care of yourself, and know you are doing a great job! Motherhood is hard work, and you can’t take care of others unless you nourish yourself mind, body, and spirit.

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