We spend a lot of time fueling our bodies with goodness while we're pregnant to make sure we grow the healthiest little human. Then we give birth and everyone becomes laser focused on that little human! But we can't forget about the mama who just spent 9 months growing said human and then countless hours in labor or endured major abdominal surgery in order to birth that human! And THEN your body starts making food for your little human! Today, we are SO lucky to have Allegra Gast, RDN, IBCLC, founder of Aloha Nutrition, AND breastfeeding mama here with us to talk about the VITAL nutrients we should incorporate into our diets in order to promote postpartum recovery + breastfeeding.
Postpartum nutrition is crucial for proper healing and proper recovery, especially if you're a breastfeeding mother! Breastfeeding requires additional energy from us, even more so than pregnancy! It's no wonder why we're tired and hungry all the time! Unfortunately, we tend to neglect our nutrient needs once the baby arrives.
Here are just 5 nutrients I encourage breastfeeding moms to incorporate more of, especially in the early days as they're still recovering from birth.
1. GLYCINE. You probably have never heard of glycine, but glycine is an amino acid that is most abundant in collagen. The demand for glycine significantly increases during pregnancy and postpartum. Collagen is a structural protein, which is found in our skin and bones, which makes sense why we'd want to focus on it postpartum. Glycine and collagen are found in bone broth, meat on the bone (drumstick, chicken thighs), chicken skin, and collagen powder. You can also find it in soybeans and sesame flour.
2. CHOLINE. Choline is a B-like vitamin that has various functions in our body including making the neurotransmitter - acetylCHOLINE. Neurotransmitters (like dopamine and endorphins) help your brain communicate with the body. This is so important postpartum, especially if you're breastfeeding, as the amount you eat influences the amount in your breastmilk. You can find it in eggs, organ meats, animal products, soybeans, cauliflower, and peanuts.
3. DHA/EPA omega 3 fatty acids. Not only do they help with baby's brain development, but they also help with inflammation. Your body is under a lot of inflammation from labor so eating anti-inflammatory foods is great! Focus on fatty fish like salmon, sardines, light chunk tuna etc, algae supplement, walnuts, chia seeds, etc.
4. Probiotics. While I wouldn't classify probiotics as a "nutrient", they are important for postpartum recovery, especially if you received antibiotics during delivery. Probiotics help with digestion and helps your body absorb nutrients in your digestive tract. Your breastmilk contains these probiotics. Newer research is showing that there is a link called the enteromammary pathway that links mom's gut health to baby's gut health! So incorporating more gut friendly bacteria in your diet will benefit your breastfed baby!
5. Vitamin D. Vitamin D supports your immune system, nervous system, and reduces inflammation. It also helps reduce postpartum depression and anxiety! Vitamin D is found in oily fish, eggs, or in fortified foods. If you're breastfeeding, you can take 6400 IUs and that will transfer into your breastmilk for baby. So if you don't want to do the vitamin D drops for your baby, you can take it yourself!
Are you adding all those things to your next grocery list?! I sure am! If you want to get more tips from Allegra on postpartum + breastfeeding nutrition or lactation, here are all the links straight to her and her amazing wealth of knowledge!
Photography by @tiffanyholyphotography