By Chelsea Long, Whole30 HMHB Content Coordinator and in-house yogi
Raise your hand if you’re breastfeeding, Whole30’ing and wondering how to keep your milk supply up.
Judging by our @wholemamasclub Instagram feed (where this question is asked in some form or another nearly every day) I’m imagining a sea of mamas with their hands high in the air. I see you, mamas, and I’m here to help.
While the materials in our Pregnancy Program end just after the labor and delivery stage of pregnancy, our team is committed to helping Whole30 mamas figure out how to have healthy, happy pregnancies at all stages, including postpartum (what’s commonly called “the 4th trimester”). We’re currently working on our postpartum program, but until then I’ve assembled our best advice for a successful #BreastfeedingWhole30.
Tip #1: Eat enough food
This might seem like one of those, “well, duh!” statements, but stay with me. Many nursing mamas have reported that they need four full-sized meals daily, following the Whole30 Meal Template, to keep up with their hunger. As a reminder, the Whole30 Meal Template meal includes:
- 1-2 palm-sized portions of protein. If eggs are your protein of choice, as many whole eggs as you can hold in your hand, which is probably 3-4.
- 1-2 thumb-sized portions of fat from oils, dressings, sauces, or mayo; or 1-2 heaping handfuls of olives or coconut flakes; or 1/2 to a whole avocado; or a small closed handful of nuts. You generally want at least one fat serving in addition to what you cook in, since cooking fat often remains in the pan and isn’t consumed.
- Fill the rest of the plate with vegetables—one cup would be a bare minimum. Aim for 2-3 cups and add more if it’s all raw leafy green stuff as they tend to wilt down and aren’t very substantial.
Occasionally, have some fruit, a fist-sized serving up to a couple of times a day.
If you’re balking at the idea of eating four full meals a day, remember, weight loss is not the goal during a #BreastfeedingWhole30. You can try having three full meals and one mini-meal that includes a smaller portion of protein, veggies, and fat. Experiment with eating asparagus, green beans, carrots, yam, watercress, sweet potatoes, dandelion greens, peas, beets, parsley, sesame seeds, avocados, raw almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, garlic, onion, ginger and other leafy green vegetables, as these foods may help with increasing milk supply.
The Whole30 is all about self-knowledge, so stay observant about how what you eat impacts your body. Also, stay observant about how what you eat impacts your baby. Certain veggies (such as cruciferous veggies and onions) have been known to cause gas in some sensitive babies. This doesn’t mean you need to restrict your intake of these foods, just watch out for any signs of uncomfortable gas or fussiness in your baby.
Tip #2: Stay hydrated
In general, we recommend that you drink a lot of water during your Whole30. You can calculate the minimal amount of water you should drink by taking your body weight, dividing it in two, and then taking that number and drinking that many ounces of water a day. (For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should drink 70 ounces of water a day). Remember, this is the MINIMUM. Many nursing moms report that they need to drink more than this in order to stay hydrated and keep their supply up.
Easily bored with “just water”? I’m right there with you. A few ideas to help you get your recommended daily water intake:
- Divide the number of ounces required per day by your waking hours and set a goal to drink a certain amount of water per hour.
- Drink a glass of water before drinking any other kind of liquid (such as sparkling water or kombucha).
- Sip on coconut water or mix it with lime sparkling water and fresh lime juice for a special treat.
- Drink herbal teas throughout the day, especially teas that contain fenugreek, blessed thistle, fennel, stinging nettle, goat’s rue, alfalfa, milk thistle, anise, marshmallow root, red raspberry leaf, coriander, caraway, and verbena. Some babies may react to some of these teas, so be observant and discontinue use if it’s not working for you and your babe.
- Mix it up by making yourself a fun, hydrating mocktail like these:
- Salt your food with Himalayan Pink Salt or Sea Salt to make sure that your body properly hydrates.
Tip #3: Eat starchy vegetables
We’ve heard from lots of Whole30 mamas who say eating starchy vegetables at least two of their meals per day helps them keep up their milk supply. Here are just a few yummy recipes that include starchy veggies to get your kitchen creativity going:
- Breakfast: Sweet and Spicy Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash from Dolly of Dolly’s Whole Life or Sweet Potato Hash from Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo
- Lunch: Potato Salad Nicoise from Brian of Sophisticated Caveman or Chicken Pesto Bites from Michelle of the Whole Smiths
- Dinner: Sweet Potato Shrimp Bites from Teri of No Crumbs Left or Spuds with Boss Sauce from Nan and Nicole of Whole Sisters
Tip #4: Don’t skimp on healthy fats
On the Whole30, fat is not your foe! In fact, during a #BreastfeedingWhole30, you may want to increase your intake of healthy fats to keep your milk supply rich. Some mamas sip on coconut milk throughout the day or make smoothies* that include fat-rich avocados and nuts. Try this Whole 30 Coconut Blended Coffee from Amanda of the Kitcheneer. Another great idea is to add homemade (or store-bought!) mayo to your breakfast potatoes. Here’s a great recipe for one-minute mayo from Cristina of Castaway Kitchen.
Eat all of the avocados. In case you need a few ideas of what to do with avocados, here’s some recipes we love:
- Crab and Shrimp Stuffed Avocados from Stacie of Salad and Sandals
- Slow Cooker Chili with Hasselback Avocados from Kendra of Paleo Paparazzi or
- Tuna Poke Bowl from Dolly of Dolly’s Whole Life poke bowl with avocado
*A note about smoothies: yes, you’re right… smoothies are not typically encouraged during a Whole30, but remember, that’s a recommendation and not a Whole30 rule. Technically, they are compliant and in the case of a #BreastfeedingWhole30, if this is a good strategy for you to work healthy fats and nutrients into your diet occasionally, go for it! Just try limiting the amount of fruit to one cup and don’t use them as a dessert replacement/ SWYPO.
Tip #5: Connect with our existing resources and other Whole30 mamas for more support
Take comfort in the fact that others have come before you, and we’re committed to giving you the best information possible. If you’ve still got questions and concerns about Breastfeeding and Whole30, check out these resources:
- Melissa and Stephanie co-wrote an entire section on Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Whole30 in The Whole30 (flip to page 114).
- We have lots of resources over at our breastfeeding hub page
- Follow us on IG @wholemamasclub to connect with other Whole30 mamas who are in the same boat.
- Join or browse the Pregnancy and Breastfeeding section of the Whole30 Forum, or leave your specific question there for other mamas to answer.
- Join our pregnancy program, where we’ll be providing daily, individualized support in our private FB group. You can take advantage of the exclusive Whole30 support now and access the pregnancy resources in any future pregnancies, as it’s a lifetime membership.
Chelsea Long is the Content Coordinator for the Healthy Mama, Happy Baby Program. She lives in San Diego with her husband and son. In addition to her work for HMHB, Chelsea is a yoga teacher, writer and meditation facilitator.
Formerly an English as a Second Language instructor at the University level, Chelsea shifted her interest to holistic health after giving birth to her son. Her degrees in Communications and Education serve her well as she works with the Whole30 team to help other moms thrive during pregnancy. Chelsea is passionate about helping others find healing through yoga, meditation, and nutrition, both through her contribution to the HMHB team and through her personal website.