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Sometimes a new mama’s breastfeeding journey can feel overwhelming, exhausting and never-ending.
Even amidst great joy and pleasure, breastfeeding is indeed hard work for the body. It is so crucial to keep up with the continuous output of energy that comes with nursing, and to choose foods that will support your system. Great nutrition is vital not only for a strong milk supply but also to provide YOU with long lasting energy for the sheer physical demands on the still-healing body and the work of mothering.
During my own early postpartum period I was eating a lot: full meals plus snacks in between.
I was lucky to have 6 weeks of herbal support from my Ayurdoula. This included:
- The Almond Herbal Rejuvenative Snack ~ little balls specially prepared with gum acacia
- A digestive chewing mix ~ taken before meals to activate the digestive system
- Dashmool ~ a womb healing tea made from 7 different roots
- Lactation tea mix ~ fennel and fenugreek drunk throughout the day
I strongly recommend sourcing herbal support from an Ayurdoula to take the strain off your helpers to make these things and to know you have these daily supports in advance. If you don’t have a local Ayurdoula, you can have these mail ordered to your home.
The key principles for eating well postpartum are the same for having success with breastfeeding.
Warming, well spiced, freshly cooked foods with an emphasis on healthy fats, complex carbs and more protein as the postpartum journey progresses. Emotional health is also key, and in the early days, having someone help prepare these foods in the home, with love, care and attention will relax mama, strengthen bonding and boost her milk at the same time.
There are also some key helper ingredients that are supportive, adaptable to many different uses and widely available.
Here are 7 top ingredients for nourishing breastfeeding snacks.
Almonds are a new mama’s best friend and can be used in recipes starting from a week or so postpartum IF they are prepared right. It’s important to soak them initially and even better if they are blanched to remove the fibrous skins. They can be used to make nut milk, sauces, fresh nut butter, lactation cookies and other sweet treats or just eaten as is for a protein-packed snack.
The oil contained within almonds provides good fats that are essential for breastmilk which can contain up to 55% fat depending on mama’s diet. These good fats are also known to boost mood. Other nutrients include good levels of calcium, manganese and vitamin E and minerals that support infant bone growth and brain development.
Sweet, sticky and reminiscent of caramel, dates are a delectable and healthy postpartum treat. The sweetness is one of the tastes really favoured in early postpartum in Ayurveda. And it’s best to provide that sweetness with natural, unprocessed options.
The fibre in dates help prevent blood sugar spikes. Dates are iron-rich and also full of minerals. They can readily be thrown into nourishing beverages, added to rice pudding and oatmeal and blended into snack balls.
3. SWEET POTATO
A great addition to the menu and favoured ahead of regular potatoes (which are not recommended early postpartum). They can be prepared in numerous ways including simply baked, boiled, mashed, and even made into toasts with your favourite toppings.
Carbs are very important whilst breastfeeding as you are using up so many extra calories to feed your baby. They give good slow releasing energy and are grounding and calming; essential attributes for supporting new mamas.
A well known galactagogue (foods/herbs known to increase milk production), oats are another great complex carbohydrate which satiates a hungry mama and provides slow releasing energy without blood sugar spikes.
For me, oatmeal was my go-to postpartum meal. It can be modified in so many ways with some sesame oil, lots of warming spices and your favourite nut butter. Oats can also be added to room temperature smoothies, lactation cookies, and a topping for this delectable fruit cobbler.
5. SESAME SEEDS
Black or white sesame seeds contain good fats and protein. I love them in the form of tahini (sesame seed paste), which is not just for humus.
Blend it into a warming postpartum beverage with spices, use it as a spread for fruit or sweet potato toast or make it into a creamy, nourishing sauce to pour over roasted vegetables.
Another known galactagogue, I use turmeric every day for it’s well touted health credentials. It’s one of the most well studied spices and has been found to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, which could help in addressing engorgement and mastitis.
Use in golden milk, chai blends and shakes as well as in foundational Ayurvedic postpartum meals such as dahl, kitchari, warming soups and stews.
7. CHIA SEEDS
These are a wonderful superfood. Chia seeds are a good source of protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids which are so key for brain health and development in Baby.
Because they are eaten cold, chia seeds are best enjoyed after a few weeks postpartum, once digestive fire (agni) has returned. I love soaking them overnight with oats and nut milk to make a delicious sweet breakfast with some vanilla and maple syrup.
Writing compliments of
Blog Contributor, Ayurdoula
Samantha Veitch is a plant-based Maiden to Mother mentor, certified Ayurdoula and certified Go Diaper Free coach. She has been dedicated to her own healing journey for many years using plants, nature connection, meditation and yoga. Continuing this exploration into motherhood was a no-brainer.
Ayurvedic teachings on postpartum became her guiding light during those first few challenging months as a new mother. She enrolled in the APC program whilst pregnant and completed her studies during her own sacred window, which was a surprisingly nourishing journey that amplified her whole experience.