Well Parent Nutrition While Pregnant
Healthy eating is an important part of good health, and an integral part of disease prevention and immune system support. It is important that you eat healthy to ensure you are at optimal health to grow and care for your baby.
During pregnancy and while breast/chest-feeding your body provides all the nutrients a baby requires, often at the sacrifice of the parents needs. Good nutrition is important to help you keep your energy, and replenish reduced nutrient stores so that you are feeling great while growing, caring for and feeding your baby. Eating a well balanced diet filled with vegetables and good protein is the best way to achieve this.
Healthy oils such as raw olive oil, coconut oil and other unsaturated fats. Raw nuts are an excellent source of healthy oils, and a great source of protein and other micronutrients
Protein is an important part of good health. When choosing plant sources, be diverse! Mix and match! By eating a variety of legumes, nuts and grains every day your are providing all the building blocks for healthy bodies and brains
Complex carbohydrates These can include beans and legumes, whole grains, rice, quinoa, fruits and vegetables. But beware the easy trap of pre-made simple carbs such as pastas, breads, and crackers…although they do have *some* nutritional merit, and are a wonderful addition to the diet in small quantities, they don't offer the biggest bang for your buck for nutrient needs, and can fill you up quickly
Vegetables and fruits Eat lots! They are excellent sources for micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. Don't forget the dark leafy greens, which are excellent sources of iron and folate: Spinach, Kale, collard greens…
Well Parent Nutrition While Breast/Chestfeeding
The beauty of breast/chest-feeding is that the nutritional content of breastmilk will always be exactly what your baby needs, but it is important to eat well so that you are getting exactly what you need.
Many parents are often concerned about the nutritional content of their breastmilk, and worry that their babies are not getting what they need. Your body is made to breastfeed, and it will ensure that your milk is filled with everything it needs for baby's growth and development. It will use all its resources to stockpile breast milk, regardless of parental nutrient levels. If your baby is eating well, and gaining well then your baby is very well fed.
All in all, parental diet has little impact on breast milk nutritional content (breast milk will always have the right stuff in it) (1). However, there are a few exceptions:
Fat Fats are incredibly important in brain development and growth, and although the amount of fats you consume has minimal impact on the amount of fat in breast milk, the type of fats that you eat IS important (1, 2). If you are eating the 'not so healthy' fats found in deep fried foods, potato chips and french fries the composition of those fats will be the composition of the fat in your breast milk. But if you are eating healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and olive or coconut oil then the fats in your breast milk will be that of the healthy fats. How neat is that?
Water soluble vitamins The amount of water soluble vitamins (Vitamin C, B complex vitamins) found in breast milk depends greatly on maternal intake (2). These vitamins are not stored in the body, so both mother and babe are dependent on food to provide these vitamins (3). This is why it is important to eat a healthy well rounded diet so that both babe and mom are getting the vitamins they need. So, where can you get these important vitamins? You guessed it…Veggies! All those bright colourful veggies like red and yellow peppers, brussels sprouts, and dark leafy greens are rich in those C and B vitamins. B12 seems to be the tricky one, most sources of B12 are derived from animal products, however alternative sources include nutritional yeast (I’ve got a great recipe for nutritional yeast popcorn..yum yum yum), fortified tofus and soy products.
Calorie counting? Often new parents find that they have increased hunger. The caloric need of a breast/chest-feeding parent has increased with the increased demand from breast/chest-feeding, this makes it so important that you listen to your body. Every person is different, and as a result what every person needs is different. The same goes for thirst; while breast/chest-feeding, a lot of the water consumed will be used to produce milk, and many parents often feel an increase in thirst. My advice? Drink when you are thirsty! Water, coconut water or natural fruit juices are great ways to hydrate. Eat when you are hungry! Or do both at once with a smoothie!
It all comes down to the basics when growing and breastfeeding your baby…take care of you and your body will take care of baby.
If you are interested in learning more about eating well while pregnant or breastfeeding, or looking for tips on how to manage feeding a baby while feeding yourself...give us a call at Rebirth Wellness Centre! We would love to have a chat with you about how we can get you feeling and being well.
1. Fraser, Diane, Cooper, Margaret. (2009). Myles Textbook for Midwives, fifteenth edition. Elsevier Limited
2. Park, Eileen. 2012. Class notes-Nutrition and Biochemistry
3. Baby Center www.babycenter.ca