Oh the glorious nutrients that breast milk contains…. it is truly the perfect food for a baby!
Breast milk has all the substance that can give a growing baby immunity to infection and disease, it stimulates important hormonal activities in the mother’s body, and breastfeeding helps mom be protected against future breast cancer and osteoporosis.
The World Health Association has good resources and reports surrounding breastfeeding. They recommend exclusive breast feeding for six months. Breast milk alone can meet the baby’s nutrient needs, all nutrient needs, for six months. Then it is recommended to add in complimentary feeding, which means breast milk plus the introduction of solid foods slowly, until at least two years of age.
One of the most important basics to breastfeeding is hydration. Drinking enough water while breastfeeding can be challenging (because a breastfeeding mom’s plate is a wee bit full) but it is essential to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces (example: 150 lb woman needs 75 ounces of water.) Spring water is great for renewing the body’s minerals as well as providing minerals for your baby.
Pro Tip: Keep water in several places in your house – that way you can hydrate while you nurse.
Because breastfeeding is such an important health source for babies, it is essential that moms nourish themselves properly. The foods that moms eat are the nutrients that babies receive, so making sure a new mom’s diet is rich in essential vitamins and minerals will help baby grow. According to Dr Weston A Price’s studies of healthy traditional diets worldwide, he found that pregnant and nursing moms were fed luxurious foods so the next generation would grow up healthy. These special foods were the sacred foods of the culture, such as raw butter and cream, fish liver oil, fish eggs, egg yolk, organ meats, seaweed, algae, etc
Some of the essential nutrients from food for breastfeeding moms are: Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and Omega 3. It is best to get these from sources that are not fortified or enriched – these are key words that the nutrients are synthetic and not designed for the body to break down and digest.
Vitamin D is best from the sun. Short sun exposure (10-15 minutes a day) without sunscreen. Dietary intake is the only other source of Vitamin D intake. If it’s not produced in the skin as a result of appropriate exposure to UVB radiation, then it must be ingested either from food or supplements.
The primary dietary source of Vitamin D is oily fish. A 3 ½ ounce piece of salmon contains approximately 360 IU of Vitamin D, followed closely by mackerel with 340, Sardines with 250 and Tuna with 200. The problem with fish as a primary source of Vitamin D is that fish often contain mercury and consuming enough fish to supply the optimal amounts could pose a very real risk. Farm raised fish should be avoided. Cod liver oil is a rich source of Vitamin D3, containing 1,360 IU’s per tablespoon. For quality, it is important to make sure that the company tests for heavy metals. For this reason I find that Rosita’s is the best brand of cod liver oil.
An egg, according to the U.S.D.A., contains about 20 IU’s of Vitamin D. Free-range and grass-fed (or non-GMO) eggs will have significantly more nutrients. Liver contains 15 IU’s of Vitamin D, but again, it is very important to obtain liver from an organic and grass fed source in order to get the maximum benefit.
Vitamin K can be found in green leafy vegetables such as mustard greens, collards, kale, and turnip greens. Grass-fed beef liver, free-range chicken liver, dark meats, and egg yolks are also good sources for Vitamin K. The breastfeeding mom needs to eat lots of the foods that contain these vital brain nutrients during pregnancy and nursing to get them into the baby.
The best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are ﬁsh, ﬁsh oils, ﬂaxseed, ﬂaxseed oil, walnuts, and walnut oil. The best sources of phospholipids are egg yolk (chicken, quail, or ducks eggs) and bean sprouts. As a new mom, having quick handy snacks laying around the house can be very helpful. A great option is a cracker called Flacker – they are high in Omegas and fiber. A quick easy snack would be flackers dipped into lima bean hummus or a sprouted or raw nut/seed butter.
To restore a breastfeeding mom’s mineral supply and help baby have a rich building block of minerals, then drinking 1-2 cups a day of mineral rich bone broth that is made from meat, bones, and connective tissue is a great source of minerals and amino acids. It is an ideal base for vegetable soups and grain and legume dishes. It provides the raw materials to help build baby’s bones, joints and connective tissues.
Some quick food tips for boosting milk production are eating oats (ideally ones that have been soaked), soaked or sprouted quinoa, and spices or tea with coriander, cumin, fennel, and anise. Making breastfeeding cookies (or recruit someone to make them for you) are a great way to get nutrients in a delicious combination.
These are a few basic recipes below to keep all breastfeeding moms well-nourished!
½ cup gluten-free oat flour
½ cup quinoa flour
1 ½ cups gluten-free oats
½ cup coconut sugar (or can use 1/4cup blackstrap molasses)
¾ cup coconut oil (or grass fed butter)
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup raw hemp seeds
2 Tablespoons flax seed meal
3 Tablespoons UNFORTIFIED nutritional yeast (Sari brand is good)
3 Tablespoons Brewers Yeast
½ teaspoon sea salt
2-3 Tablespoons water (you can add more, one Tablespoon at a time, if your dough seems too dry after mixing)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
¼ cup chocolate chips (optional) (I love enjoy life chocolate chip cookies)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
- Spoon Tablespoon-sized balls of batter onto greased cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes, or until done. Cool on wire rack.
Lima Bean Hummus
16 oz bag frozen baby lima beans
1 head of garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp seaweed sprinkles
4 T lemon juice
4 T olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp unfortified nutritional yeast
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut off the very top of the garlic clove so that the tops of most of the cloves are exposed slightly. Drizzle olive oil over head of garlic with skin on in the center of roasting pan or cast iron skillet. Roast garlic in oven for 20 minutes or until tender. Remove and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add lima beans to boiling water, return to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse, and cool. Put beans into food processor.
- Using your fingers, squeeze the soft, roasted garlic out of each clove into food processor. Add salt, seaweed, lemon juice, and olive oil the food processor and blend until completely smooth.
- Scrape ingredients off sides of food processor to make sure it blends evenly. If you find that the hummus is too thick, you can add additional olive oil. After removing from blender add in nutritional yeast.
- Serve at room temperature with cut up veggies or flackers
- Optional: Sprinkle with chopped parsley or paprika before serving
New Mom’s Shake
1 apple (or fresh pressed apple juice)
1-2 tsp blackstrap molasses
½ cup full-fat plain yogurt (or if dairy sensitive, use coconut milk/coconut cream that is carrageen free) *Nancy’s is my favorite brand of plain yogurt because of the diversity of good probiotics.
1 tbsp fresh ground flaxseeds
1 tbsp raw honey or grade B maple syrup
1/3 tsp powdered kelp (or seaweed sprinkles)
½-1 cup of organic full fat milk or full fat coconut milk (can: Natural Value box: Arroy-d, or make own)
Optional Add ins: berries, coconut, cinnamon, vanilla, nuts, green veggies
- Mix all ingredients in a blender
- Add ice as desired
Basic Salad Dressing
1 tsp Dijon style mustard (smooth or grainy)
2 tbsps Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp expeller-expressed flax oil
- Dip a fork into the jar of mustard and transfer about 1 tsp into a small bowl.
- Add vinegar and mix around.
- Add olive oil in a thin stream, stirring all the while with the fork, until oil is well mixed or emulsified.
- Add flax oil and use immediately.
Mason Jar Lunch
(can be made ahead of time & stored in fridge for up to 3 days)
2T full-fat coconut milk
2T lime juice
1C zucchini noodles
1/2c cauliflower rice
2T shelled hemp seeds
2T chopped fresh cilantro
3 slices of red pepper, chopped
1/4c goat cheese, diced (optional)
Leftover protein or hardboiled egg (optional)
- Whizz the avocado, coconut milk, and lime juice in blender.
- Add enough water to reach desired consistency.
- Pour dressing in bottom of mason jar, then add zucchini noodles.
- In separate bowl mix cauliflower rice, hemp seeds, cilantro and toss to combine – then add on top of zucchini noodles.
- Place peppers and cheese on top. Put top on and store in fridge.
- To eat turn jar upside down to mix together.
**Adding hardboiled eggs or already cooked meat is a great way to get extra protein in**
Basic Bone Broth for Instant Pot
Instant Pots are great because they save so much time for bust families. My favorite feature is the ability to make bone broth in just a few hours. The Instant Pot also has a stainless steel inserts, so the toxicity of enamel coating is removed.
Bones (free-range chicken can either be raw- necks, back, feet are good. Grass fed beef bones like marrow bones, knuckles, etc. Forest or free-range pork bones like tail, etc. Duck, turkey, goose, etc.)
Optional fresh herbs – garlic, turmeric, black peppercorn
Splash of raw apple cider vinegar (about 1-2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt (celtic or Himalayan)
1 sheet or 1 tablespoon of seaweed (that has been tested for heavy metals – like Vitamin Sea)
*If you’re using beef, lamb, or pork bones, you’ll want to roast them in the oven at 350F for about half an hour before starting with step #1. It does wonders for the flavor. But this is just an option for taste preference.
- Place bones in Instant Pot and top with veggies, apple cider vinegar, and salt.
- Add water until the water covers the bones and do not go past the MAX fill line. If you have time, let the pot sit for 30 minutes so the vinegar can begin to pull minerals out of the bones.
- Select the ‘Soup’ button or manual button (depends on model) and set for max time – about four hours. Make sure your vent is closed.
- If you have time then let the Instant Pot to depressurize naturally. If you do not have time to drain it afterwards, then let it depressurize and then set the pot on slow cook and let it keep going until you have time to strain the broth.
- Strain the broth and discard the bones and vegetables. Pour broth into jars and store in the fridge. Or pour in ice cube trays and freeze for individual servings.
****Ideally contact a local farmer to buy bones in bulk. Make sure their feed is non-GMO and that the farmer is practicing sustainable farming****
“The Clinical Importance of Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol): A Paradigm Shift with Implications For All Healthcare Providers”, by Drs. Vasquez, Manso and Cannell
Please remember that this is not to replace medical practitioner advice or support. Also know that not all the foods and herbs I mention in this nutrition-focused post are necessarily right for you. We all have unique nutritional needs. Food sensitivities, medications, medical conditions, and your bio-chemical make-up may make some of the foods and herbs better for you than others. We are all individuals and need different nutrients at different points in our lives.