Breastfeeding sustains life, but it also has some serious side benefits from boosting immunity to bumping up IQ. To boost its powers, take a closer look at your diet, says Lisa Oxenham
We hand over to Lisa Oxenham, Beauty and Style Director at Marie Claire, for a very special guest post on how to supercharge your breast milk...
My toddler, Eliza, will daily clamber onto my lap, unbutton my shirt, pull aside my bra, and start sucking - and I couldn’t be happier to continue the ritual, even though she's two now.
Initially, I just wanted to impart her with the health benefits of breast milk, which the NHS advises (including protecting her from infections and disease, as well as providing me with health benefits too), but I continue to feed her in this way to provide her with the best possible nutrition, and because it’s a time for us to rest, connect and to take a moment away from the rigours of daily life to just relax with one another.
I know this is a subject where there is a vast range of experiences, difficulties and emotions and I feel so blessed that I can continue.
There are downsides. Her dad can’t pitch in on breastfeeding, I’m still sleep deprived from her night and early morning feed routine, and I suspect I’m still suffering from unsettled postpartum hormones. It also means that I need to be more considered when it comes to my diet - though I welcome this as it’s served my own health well.
If you’d like to supercharge your breast milk and reap the rewards of a healthy diet, follow these tips outlined by nutritionist Yvonne Bishop-Western:
- Calcium is essential during lactation. 500ml of milk or milk products per day must be taken in addition to eating calcium rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables. Goats milk or plant-based milk are also good alternatives.
- Up vitamins C, A, thiamine, riboflavin, B6, B12, iodine and selenium. These vitamins are reflected in your breast milk composition. As new-born babies have very little amounts of these particular nutrients, they rely on breast milk for an adequate supply. Eat a rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables, brazil nuts, mushrooms, spinach and almonds. Good sources of iodine are seafood and iodised salt.
- Buy organic or wash your vegetables. Reduce exposure to pesticide residues.
- Eat fish. For Omega 3 and EFAs, although some can contain high levels of harmful substances such as mercury and women need to be aware of the potential for this toxic element to be passed to their baby through their milk, so go for small, oily fish such as sardines, which contain less.
- Pick protein-rich foods. Protein is a key component of breast milk that helps to ensure healthy growth and development. Choose eggs, beans, lentils, pulses, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
- Choose foods rich in iron. Good sources of iron include lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, peas, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruit. To help your body absorb iron, eat iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits.
- Take a daily postnatal vitamin. Vitabiotics Pregnacare Breast-Feeding supplements contain the exact recommended level of 10mcg vitamin D3, the full RNI of 700mg calcium and 300mg DHA, plus vitamin K for the new-born, together with a comprehensive spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals. The high purity Omega-3 capsule provides 300mg DHA, a level recommended by international experts for mothers during lactation. Research increasingly shows the importance of essential fatty acids in the development of babies and infants. DHA supplied from the mother’s breast milk plays an essential role in the new baby’s brain and eye development. Interestingly infants have limited capability to synthesize fatty acids, which therefore must be obtained directly from external sources such as the mother’s milk.
8.Supplements for your baby: UK Department of Health recommends that all children from six months to five years old are given supplements vitamins A, C and D. I’ve been giving Eliza Vitabiotics Wellbaby Vit D Drops that are super fun and easy to use.
We hope you enjoyed Lisa's guest post on how to supercharge your breast milk - stay tuned for more guest posts from Lisa over the next few months. Make sure you also catch-up with all our posts on breastfeeding