Two Simple Hacks to Optimize Breast Milk
During your nine months of pregnancy, nutrition was hopefully of high importance to you. Maybe it was the healthiest you have ever treated your body because you knew you were nourishing a growing embryo. Now that you have had baby and have decided to breastfeed, your demand for nutritious food continues. You also have the added bonus of caring for a newborn! No need to fret, I am here to give you some simple and effective ways you can optimize your breast milk.
Prolactin is the hormone responsible for lactation. Levels rise from 10ng/ml to 200 ng/ml during pregnancy and fall after birth to around 100 ng/ml in those who are breastfeeding.1 Stress, sleep, environment, movement, and nutrition can all affect our hormones and in turn, our milk supply. Simply stated, if we stress too much about our nutrition we might as well be eating boxed cereal! So first and foremost, chill out Mama! Being prepared before birth can help immensely. Try prepping food in large batches and freezing meals during your final weeks of pregnancy. Once baby comes, you will be so thankful you have meals ready to go.
Create a system that works for you and your family. Balance and consistency is key. At the end of the day, remember that if you are giving it your best, then that is all that really matters! Read below why simply increasing water and healthy fats are my top two hacks for optimizing breast milk.
Not only extremely important for milk supply, water is king when it comes to pregnant and new moms alike. Our bodies are made up of 70-80 percent water and human milk is made up of 88 percent water on average. With optimal water intake, new moms can repair stretched tissues, avoid edema and constipation, balance hormones, remove toxins, and produce optimal breast milk. Without enough water, we will probably feel pretty crappy and that is the last thing a new, breastfeeding Mom needs! Be careful when choosing a beverage for hydration, many drinks like juices, sodas, caffeinated beverages, and any drink with larger than 3% sugar will all cause dehydration to periphery cells.2 Water is really moms best friend, and what better way to keep it simple! If plain water is boring to you, try infused water with fruits and herbs like mint, strawberry, lemon, and cucumber. You could also incorporate bone broth into your diet daily to increase hydration. Bone broth has been shown to increase milk supply. Try to drink most of your water in the morning and early afternoon to avoid having to use the restroom in the middle of the night. Also, try to drink water around your meals, drinking water with meals can dilute stomach acid and hinder optimal digestion. Aim for roughly 85oz to 125oz of water per day, set a goal and have fun with it!
Mother’s milk contains high levels of healthy fats, all for a good reason. Healthy fats in mom’s diet increases fat in her milk as well as enzymes lipase, esterase, and alkaline phosphatase which are all necessary for baby’s optimal assimilation of nutrients and digestion.3 When mom eats trans fat (those found in processed and fried foods) she will actually lower the fat content of her milk. Postpartum, moms need roughly 24 percent more calories to support lactation.4 With a caloric demand still high, fats are an awesome way to satisfy that demand since fats are more than double the caloric content per gram than carbohydrates and protein. There are an abundance of healthy fats readily available to the modern mom such as avocados, avocado oil, olives, olive oil, nut butters, grass fed butter and ghee, coconut oil, pastured/organic eggs, wild salmon, pastured/grass fed beef, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, etc. When choosing a meal to eat, always try to incorporate fat. Examples could be oatmeal with almond butter, spinach omelette, avocado toast, garden salad with salmon, chia seed pudding, grass fed steak and broccoli, etc. See the recipe below for my Spinach Frittata, an easy meal you can make once and eat all week that contains lots of healthy fats! I love to serve this with sliced avocado. So many delicious and easy ways to incorporate healthy fats into your diet!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
2-3 tbsp fat of choice (lard, grass fed butter, avocado oil, etc.)
4 heaping handfuls of organic baby spinach
12 pastured/ organic eggs
Salt and pepper
12” cast iron skillet (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat and melt oil. Coat up to .5” of sides of skillet.
In a separate bowl, crack and mix eggs. Add salt and pepper to egg mixture.
Add spinach to cast iron and cook until half way cooked, roughly 3 minutes (oven will cook remainder of spinach).
Add egg mixture to spinach and transfer to oven.
Bake for 20 minutes or until all eggs have cooked through.
Let cool and slice. Enjoy!
When in doubt, keep it simple. Drink plenty of water and eat nutrient dense, real foods. The great thing about consuming more water and healthy fats is that you will crowd out foods that are not as nutritionally dense and nourishing for Mom, like processed, fried, and refined foods.
Thank you for taking the time to read! If you would like to find out more, you can visit my website and find me on social. Feel free to schedule a complementary health or fitness consultation or stop by one of my pre and postnatal classes at The River Guild. I look forward to connecting with you!
1. See: Fit For Birth Corrective Exercise Specialist Manual, Section 7: Postpartum in the Modern World, Page 8
2. See: Fit For Birth Corrective Exercise Specialist Manual, Section 7: Postpartum in the Modern World, Page 33
3. See: The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon Morell, Chapter 7: Nourishing Your Baby, page 125.
4. See: Our Babies, Ourselves by Meredith F. Small, Chapter 6: Food For Thought, page 192.