The Breastfeeding Vegetarian: Nutrition tips 08/02/11
It’s World Breastfeeding Week and this is the perfect time to cheer mothers on across the globe.
It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and nowhere is this more evident than in the blogosphere. All over the web, we are cheering mothers on and celebrating this wonderful and amazing gift we have to nourish our children. Like most things in life, though, this gift doesn’t always come easy.
“I make milk, what’s your superpower?” sums this thought up nicely, as we often do have to work and overcome obstacles in order to make milk. From production to latching, to biters (ouch!), to tandem, to thoughts of weaning, to nursing in public, breastfeeding is at once the easiest and hardest thing a mother can do. In the process of mothering a nursling and striving to get past these hurdles, a mother must not overlook her own nutrition, the foundation of the breastfeeding phenomenon.
Here are a few reminders to keep up a healthy vegetarian diet while breastfeeding in order to provide your body and your baby with the nutrients you both need.
Eat frequently- In the chaos of motherhood, I have found it to be unwise to count on getting a full “square” meal, three times a day. You just never know when something will suddenly happen, affecting meal preparation or your ability to sit down and get a whole meal in. This makes it important to snack regularly in order to keep yourself going throughout the day.
Eat nutrient dense foods- Despite how it seems to be filling to eat a candy bar or pastry, the initial sugar rush is going to wear off, and the empty calories will leave you with nothing to show for your splurge but a drowsy feeling and a craving for more. Choose your snacks and meals wisely, with nutrient-packed foods like nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes and raw fruits and vegetables in order to keep you going as your body burns calories to produce milk.
Eat raw- Whenever possible, you should eat whole foods that are as close to their natural state as you can get them. The more you cook them, the more nutrients you lose. The plus side to this is it totally justifies not cooking. Choose in-season fruits and vegetables with deep colours, and buy organic whenever possible.
Drink fluids- A good rule of thumb is to drink a glass of water every time you nurse. Breastmilk is 80% water, and it can really be draining to nurse without rehydrating. Especially when pregnant or breastfeeding in the summer months or when you find yourself particularly active, your water and clear fluid intake is as vital to your nutrition as any food.
Prepare in Advance- If you get a chance to cook, make a bunch. Load up your freezer, not only with full meals for the family but also with portion sizes for lunches, and don’t forget snacks. If you are making a dip for a Saturday morning brunch, make a double batch and leave the rest in the fridge for munching on throughout the week.
With some pre-planning and determination, you can manage a healthful and plentiful diet to sustain you and your baby through the breastfeeding years. I raise my green smoothies to you, vegetarian mommies! Congratulations on becoming your baby’s super hero!
Brannan is a mother of three and has been striving for a whole foods, vegetarian diet through two pregnancies and several years of breastfeeding and mommyhood. You can find her at The Pregnant Vegetarian, blogging through cookbooks and life as a vegetarian mom.
[Ed’s note: Welcome Brannan! We look forward to having your voice on the site. Laura]