What To Eat When Breastfeeding & Why It's So Important

"Breastfeeding takes as much extra energy a day as a 45-minute Peloton Class"

Postpartum nutrition is kind of important... If you are able and choose to breastfeed, your body is the miracle machine that is the sole provider of nutrients and energy to your Little One. Breastfeeding each day requires extra energy equivalent to a peloton class, 500 calories more than a normal day! And producing breastmilk consumes 25% of the body’s energy, to put that into perspective your brain only uses 20% in a day and how much do you use that typically? A LOT.

Therefore if Little One is to get the elixir of breastmilk that helps her grow healthy and strong, Mama needs to be her own #1 priority (right when that feels impossible!).

There is no specific magic number for how much water to drink, but staying hydrated is so important on a normal day, let alone a breastfeeding one. At a minimum aim for approx. 1.5l per day (some recommend as high as 2litres!), which if you are pregnant reading this then you should already be hitting that mark daily. As it's just as important to nourish your body when you are growing a baby too!

breastfeeding mum in bed with snacks

Bon + Bear Mama’s Experience – “How can I get that many extra calories per day while feeling healthy and happy?”

With my first, I knew I needed 500 extra calories, I just didn’t know how best to achieve that! I have always had low BMI, and get r quite easily, so I knew I had to build up a solid backup store (fat reserves) just in case I got ill and baby pushed my body to its limit! So I ate all the great, balanced food at mealtimes, but my snacking to build that extra 500 calories w a blur of digestives, jaffa cakes, and tinned peaches. These were great as a novelty, but that wore off pretty q and I didn’t feel happy or healthy in myself knowing this just didn’t line up with what I would normally choose to eat, but also that I knew it wasn’t nutritious and would be hungry again soon after. 

In summary, you need your extra calories to be balanced, and made up of energy-rich foods; for carbohydrates think oats and fruits, for protein, think nuts and seeds! This time around with Baby #2 I planned ahead and asked my family to help build up a snack store for use at feeding time. I feel fuller for longer, more relaxed that I know what my snack options are, and more excited knowing there are some treats in there worth looking forward to.

I also look forward to my feeding times, as I can go and get myself set up with a nice snack and take the time to sit and enjoy this time knowing I am fuelling my body with goodness.

The well-known, but not so well-known superfood for feeding

Oats, Oats & more Oats. Or also k as Oatmeal. Rich in iron which is a crucial ingredient for promoting milk supply, reducing tiredness & fatigue and also something which depletes in your body's stores in pregnancy due to the increased blood and placenta's demand. If you also suffer from a postpartum haemorrhage in labour you will likely be discharged with iron tablets, so why not help the natural way and know that it could also boost your milk production too.

Bake some cookies, flapjacks, overnight oats, pancakes, or porridge with fresh fruit... oats are surprisingly versatile and easy to bulk buy too. 

oat bars with milk and coffee

MJ’s Go-To Snacks for Feeding Time:

The Home-Made Goodies

  • Berry or Mango Smoothies: Equip your partner with this recipe; it takes 5 minutes, and comes loaded with banana (energy), almond butter (protein), and fruits that indulge a sweet tooth!
  • Cookies: My sister made a batch of cookies with peanut butter, super seeds and dried fruits
  • Flapjack: My MIL made me a batch of a classic Deliciously Ella recipe

 The Ready-Made Goodies

  • Deliciously Ella Oat Bars – every flavour is so good and I always have one in my nappy bag as a go-to. Also no sugar!
  • Nairns Gluten Free Oat Dark Chocolate Biscuits: 30% less sugar than the average biscuit, and packed with mighty wholegrain oats!
  • Cashew Nuts/Dried Fruit

 The cheat treats! For when I need a pick me up

  • Dark Chocolate Hobnobs – Yep. The sweet treat that’s just slightly less bad for me is dark not milk choc, and contains oats that helps me justify eating it to myself!
  • Pain Au Chocolat. It’s my favourite. Full Stop :)
  • A few squares of good quality dark choc

And some other good ideas for easy-to-grab snacks

  • Hummus & Veggie sticks – Celery, Carrot, Pepper
  • Oat Cakes topped with anything spreadable
  • Apple Slices & Nut Butter to dip
  • Yoghurts
  • Energy Balls – my go-to is the Deliciously Ella range again

My Top Tip: Plan Ahead and Ask for Help. If you do you can eat guilt-free knowing that you’ve just had another peloton day...

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