I never really thought about breastfeeding that much when I was pregnant. I mean - I got all the equipment I was told I'd need; nipple cream, pillow and breast pads - and it never crossed my mind that I wouldn't breastfeed. I never even considered what foods to eat, how to rest properly, how much energy it would take to nourish another human with my body.
It was only that I started breastfeeding this second time around that I truly appreciated the energy involved, the dedication and the complex emotions surrounding it - not to mention what to eat and drink to help me.
Breast feeding is HARD. It's vital to surround ourselves with help if we want to meet our feeding goals, and so important to be kind to ourselves when things don't go to plan.
Some of you might know that I recently launched a small family catering company called Nourish & Bloom. We supply food for every season of family life but my first aim was to support new mothers with healthy, nourishing food that would support their postpartum and breastfeeding journeys. With that in mind I thought I'd write a small post about what to nourish your body with during those first weeks of breastfeeding and into the weeks and months to follow.
The following is just general advice to help support you while you breast feed. I'm not a nutritionist and any advice I give comes from talking with lactation consultants, nutritionists, cooking for other mums, my mother and grandmother and my own experience of breastfeeding. There are no "miracle cures" to make breastfeeding suddenly easy here. Listen to your body and your baby, relax, notice what works for you and adapt things as you go.
Keeping adequately hydrated is something my mum told me about on day one. Many of you will have noticed an almost unquenchable thirst in the early days of breastfeeding and you'll need to replenish liquids lost in labour and support your body in making breastmilk. I always have a big bottle of room temperature water with me or within arms reach, particularly at night but also drank a lot of herbal teas, broths and soups in the beginning. You can find breastfeeding tea in most pharmacies and bio stores in France and it's great for keeping hydrated and giving your milk supply that extra boost.
And speaking about boosting your milk supply, you'll need to consume around 500 extra calories a day for the first six months of breastfeeding. (I didn't really find this an issue as I was RAVENOUS all of the time) It's important to eat properly because when blood sugar drops too low, eating can trigger stress hormones which in turn reduces the production of the hormones that create your milk supply and the let down reflex. Great things to eat include:
- Good fats: Eating good fats increases the fat percentage in your breast milk and supports growth in your baby - hooray! Good fatty food includes: Avocados, nuts and seeds, olives & olive oil, salmon, tuna, dark chocolate and eggs.
- Fenugreek, Ginger & caraway have all traditionally been used in boosting milk supply. They're from a group of herbs known as Galactagogues and adding them to your cooking is a great way to give your supply a helping hand. My favourite way to do this is by making a quick gingery egg fried rice from left over brown rice (which is a great source of selenium - another mineral important during breastfeeding!)
If you are struggling with breastfeeding you are certainly not alone! For something that is so natural, there is so much that feels difficult, strange and straight up painful! Fortunately help is out there if you know where to look.
If you're in Paris or its suburbs and are in need of an English speaking lactation consultant, Meagan LeCoq is a South African midwife, doula and lactation consultant. Her years of professional experience were vital to me as a first time mum. You can find her website here. I honestly can't recommend her enough!
Happy feeding! If you have any questions about Nourish & Bloom's postpartum packages or what else we offer please don't hesitate to send me an email!