Author: Jessica Moffitt, BS, CHES
Breastfeeding nutrition seems to be the most daunting topic I have tried to tackle to date. They say that breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories a day. And girl- let me tell you. I am CONSTANTLY hungry. I feel like I eat between 2200 and 2400 calories a day, feed 7-8 times a day, pump once, and STILL FIND the need for snacks constantly. But- here is what I have noticed.
Highly Processed Galactagogues
1) You don’t NEED the special lactation cookies. And they really don’t taste that great either. The lollipops, cookies, and all the other “galactagogue” foods are filled with nasty chemicals, tons of sugar, and don’t really have a lot of value to them nutritionally. A Galactagogue is a food that is thought to have milk production boosters. But do me a favor. Copy + paste that word into a google search, with the word “foods” after. Guess what? They are just whole foods. Nothing super fancy. Just real, nutrient-dense foods. And it makes sense.
The body will produce enough nutrients for your baby if you give your body enough nutrients to do so. However, if you find yourself lacking in these foods in your diet, and don’t eat nutritious meals that contain these, these lactation foods are an option to consider.
2) Water intake DOES matter. If you are depleted of water, your body cannot circulate nutrients. I say this time and time again in my classes and my blogs. You must drink water. ½ your body weight (lbs) converted to ounces. In other words, if you weigh 200 pounds, you need to drink 100 ounces of water a day. If you are dehydrated, toxins build up, the body finds the need to fight these as if they were invaders, and your body goes into fight or flight. If your body needs to choose between survival and producing milk, it will choose survival.
So- drink water. Now, this doesn’t mean that drinking 200 or 300 ounces of water is going to increase your milk supply. There is no research out there that shows that your milk supply increases when you over-consume water. But do stay hydrated. If you need help drinking water, try these water drops from Stur, a stainless steel straw for convenience, and even a temperature controlled water bottle to keep your water at the desired temperature.
3) There are herbs out there that promote prolactin and oxytocin, and these herbs do help with breastmilk production. The research has existed for hundreds of years. You can buy them in teas, capsules, etc. or simply add them to your foods. However, I prefer the Lactation Blend by Vitanica. It’s 1 simple capsule a day. I still continue to eat a whole foods diet rich in all my nutrients needed for healthy moms, and take my prenatal multi-vitamin to make sure that if I miss something in my diet, my multi is there to fill in the gaps, and I take a B Complex for my clinically proven Vitamin B deficiencies. That’s it. I’m not taking a million different supplements, because I EAT REAL FOOD! Simple as that. In fact, if this sounds interesting to you, I can give you the name of my doctor who recommended this supplement regiment, and who can help you make sure you are getting all your nutrients. Or you can ask your PCP to run a micro-nutrient panel on you to make sure you are getting essential nutrients. And this will tell you where you are deficient.
But I promise you, blindly following a blog that suggests a million different vitamins is NOT the way to go. Nor do I think anyone should be giving supplement advice that is not a physician. Like I said at the beginning of this article, this is what works for me- It’s not what will work for everyone.
4) My commitment to breastfeeding directly relates to my breast milk production. If I am worried about my supply, it seems to drive it in the opposite direction. If I modify my pumping routine (i.e. I go camping and forget my pump and don’t pump for 4 days), it takes a minute for my supply to build back up (but it IS possible).
5) My stress levels matter. Did you know that your milk tastes essentially “spoiled” when your stress levels are too high? I imagine that is has to do with the chemical changes in your body, and the pheromones you release, but it doesn’t appear anyone fully understands why. But babies can tell! Not to mention that an increase in stress hormones like cortisol means a hormonal imbalance and a hormonal imbalance can mean changes in prolactin and oxytocin levels. Furthermore, clinical research shows that cortisol can be passed along through breast milk. Which means when you are stressed, you are feeding your baby stress hormones. (But don’t stress over this!)
So, take a moment to love yourself. Release oxytocin naturally. Love your little one with everything inside you and find a routine that works for you. If you need a consultation with a physician, but don’t have a physician in mind, I recommend our physician here at Prospectively Healthy. He can do telemedicine consultations all over the United States. If you are looking for teas and herbs- you’ve come to the right place! You’ll find them under the online store section of our website. And if you are looking for help in balancing your nutrition and eating to nourish your body, well, I’m your gal! Stay well, Mammas, and know that you are loved.