5 healthy foods for breastfeeding mums
By Sylvia Mukami
Forget Gal Gadot, you my friend, are the real Wonder Woman. Not only have you brought life into the world, the nutrition that you provide for your baby through breastfeeding promotes his cognitive development and immunity.
Breast milk is the stuff of legends. It is believed that Hera’s breast milk created the Milky Way and gave Hercules’ his super powers. It has also been proven that the kind of protection your little one gets from breastfeeding continues throughout your baby’s life.
Before bottles and formula were ever invented, a wet nurse would be hired in case of lactation failure or the death of a mother. A wet nurse is a woman who breastfeeds another’s child and the story of the Egyptian princess who hired Moses’s mother to be his wet nurse is one of the earliest accounts of this practice.
Over time, wet nursing became a fashionable choice for the rich. It later evolved to a paying profession with contracts and regulations until formula overshadowed it. Breastfeeding however still remains popular among the rich and poor alike due to its many benefits to the mother and child.
Benefits of breastfeeding
- It enhances attachment: Oxytocin is released every time you nurse your baby which helps you to release your milk and bond with the baby. This mothering hormone also enhances your mental health, giving you improved sleep and relaxation.
- It passes on antibodies to your baby: Colostrum, the first milk your body produces has high levels of secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA). This substance forms a protective layer on the mucous membrane of your baby’s intestines, throat and nose which guard against germs and food allergies. Studies show that breastfed babies suffer less from stomach viruses, respiratory illnesses, and meningitis.
- Reduces risk of type 1 diabetes and cancer: Lower estrogen levels during breastfeeding decrease the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. During pregnancy, women suffer from mild metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions such as high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and increased insulin resistance. Breastfeeding reverses these metabolic changes, which consequently lowers your risk of diabetes.
- Helps you lose weight: You require approximately 500 calories to make milk for your baby on any single day. Breastfeeding mums experience the greatest weight loss between 3 and 6 months after the baby is born.
It’s very easy to forget your needs in light of your little bundle of joy. However, you can eat certain foods that will nourish you and replenish your Super Mom powers. Here’s a checklist:
Oatmeal is a great source for iron which will keep anaemia, a common occurrence in breastfeeding mums, at bay. This high fibre food will also keep you fuller for longer and increase your milk supply.
Serving suggestions: Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with milk, freshly cut mangoes and coconut. You could also make wheat-free oat pancakes or muffins and wash them down with your favourite hot beverage.
Dark green leafy vegetables
Spinach, kale and broccoli are filled with fibre, minerals and antioxidants. These vegetables are high in Vitamin A and Calcium. Babies grow new bone all the time so they need all the calcium that you can provide.
Serving suggestions: Enjoy these vegetables in salads, sandwiches and smoothies or as an accompaniment to your ugali and rice dishes.
Chia seeds belong in the mint family and are a good source of fibre, protein and Omega 3 fats which boosts the baby’s nerve function and immunity. They are known to increase milk production in breastfeeding mums. The daily recommended dose is 2 tablespoons.
Serving suggestions: Add them to your yogurt, juices, smoothies and sauces or eat them whole. They give you a nutritional boost and don’t change the flavour of your beverages.
Though it has high fat content, coconut oil contains a high amount of lauric acid which is converted to monolaurin. Monolaurin has antifungal, antiprotozoal and antiviral properties which destroy these disease-causing microorganisms in the body. Breastfeeding mums with high levels of lauric acid in their milk have healthier babies. 3 teaspoons a day will also boost your metabolism so you don’t have to worry about packing on the pounds.
Serving suggestions: Fry your chapattis with coconut oil or mix coconut oil with your yogurt oats or smoothie.
Yogurt has loads of healthy bacteria for breastfeeding mums and their babies. These bacteria also help in preventing yeast overgrowth in your milk ducts, baby’s mouth and intestinal tract. Tuti probiotic yogurt is a good bet; it’s all natural unlike most yogurts in the market and is flavoured with fair amounts of cane sugar.
Tuti yogurt also has Aloe Vera Barbadensis as one of its ingredients. Aloe Vera contains over 200 nutritional compounds, 20 minerals, 20 of the22 human- required amino acids, 12 vitamins and at least 8 enzymes which is ideal for breastfeeding mums.
You can make an order to enjoy the Aloe Vera goodness that Tuti yogurt has to offer you and your baby.
Serving suggestions: Add some granola and yogurt to your breakfast cereal for a great morning start. You may use probiotic yogurt as a base for your salads too.