by Cate Free. Cate is a mama, avid runner, and helps support other mamas seeking wellness. Today she shares her personal experience and Whole30 tips for breastfeeding mamas.
Caring for a baby, especially in those beginning newborn days, is mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging, and those days (and nights) seem to stretch on. As a mom who just gave birth to baby number four a few short weeks ago, I had been surviving on coffee, chocolate, and sugar, and I knew my nutrition needed to be kicked in the pants.
I’ve completed several Whole30 resets, some while pregnant and/or nursing. I decided to do a Whole30 soon after my baby was born, because I knew from previous experience how beneficial it was to me and to my baby. Within a matter of days, my energy improved (despite the lack of sleep), my cravings disappeared, my milk production was excellent, and my baby girl seemed more content.
Since the Whole30 emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods, I can think of no better option for a breastfeeding mama. After childbirth and in the months that follow, most mamas are in a nutrient deficit. Pregnancy and nursing are demanding on our bodies and not only are our caloric needs significantly higher, but our nutritional needs are increased as well. The Whole30 can help ensure more than adequate nutrition for a happy, robust baby and a healthy mom.
Since it can be confusing to navigate a Whole30, especially your first time, I’d like to share some Whole30 tips for breastfeeding mamas to ensure your success.
Eat Enough Food
One of the first things you need to focus on is making sure you eat enough. Whole30 helps your body burn fat which can lead to a decreased appetite for some people. Consuming enough quality food will help keep your milk supply up and keep your energy high during those sleep-deprived days.
Eat plenty of:
- Carbohydrates. A Whole30-inspired diet is naturally lower in carbohydrates because of the elimination of sugars, sweeteners, grains, and legumes, but breastfeeding moms needs carbohydrates to keep adequate milk supply. Choose nutrient-dense options like sweet potatoes, squash, and fruit.
- Fats. Whole30 emphasizes quality fats. As a nursing mom, this is incredibly important! Do not skimp on fat! Eat plenty of fats like avocados, coconut oil and coconut butter, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, eggs, and ghee from pastured cows.
- Nutrients: As I mentioned before, your nutrient needs while breastfeeding are higher. The need for nutrients like Vitamin A (found in organ meats, animal fat), vitamin D (from sunlight and supplementation), choline (found in eggs and liver), B12 (found in animal foods), and iodine (found in seafood, sea vegetables, eggs, and dairy) increases. Making sure that you eat a wide variety of healthy and nutritious food will help you have a successful Whole30.
Drink Plenty of Water
You have to drink water. Lots and lots of water. Your body is working overtime to feed and sustain another human and that requires a lot of fluid. Unfortunately, coffee doesn’t really count.
In order to make drinking 3-4 liters of water a day easier, there are a couple things you can do:
- Add lemon, lime, or cucumbers to make it taste better if you can’t stand the taste of water.
- Keep water handy EVERYWHERE: night stand, end tables, nursery, you name it. Have water at hand at all times.
- Put your partner on water duty. When you get up to nurse the baby, they can make sure your cup or bottle is full. Try to drink about 20 ounces every time you sit down to nurse.
- Use a cup or bottle with a straw. I have found this the easiest way to drink while nursing.
Prep Your Food
Whole30 is much more manageable if you prepare for it. If you are able and have the time, prepping meals for the freezer can save your sanity when dinner time rolls around. If you can’t, take a friend up on an offer to help. Send them a few recipes of compliant meals they can prep for you to freeze.
Some of my compliant favorites are:
- Soups and Stews
- Egg bakes and frittatas
- Seasoned chicken breast or thighs you can throw in the slow cooker or pressure cooker or a whole roasted chicken . to use the meat in recipes throughout the week.
- Compliant Shepherd’s Pie
- This Taco Sweet Potato Skillet by Paleo Running Mama
- You have to try Nom Nom Paleo’s Cracklin’ Chicken at least once!
Opt for Convenience
If prepping meals isn’t possible for you, there are now plenty of wonderful compliant products on the supermarket shelves. Pre-cut veggies, condiments, frozen fruit, and salad kits (be sure to check ingredients) are easy to pick up and can save the day in a pinch.
It’s always cheaper to make condiments or meals yourself, but if you can’t, don’t hesitate to pay for the convenience to make life a little easier in this season. The Whole30 now has compliant frozen meals available at most Walmart locations that can come in handy when times are busy and chaotic.
Snacking is not normally encouraged on the Whole 30, but when you’re breastfeeding you may find that your hunger is never ending. Go ahead and include snacks into your day, but be sure to optimize nutrition and get a good balance of carbs, protein and fat. Here a few great snack ideas:
- Veggies and guacamole
- Apples and almond butter
- Homemade trail mix: nuts, raisins, dried coconut (just be sure to read labels)
- Tuna salad: tuna, compliant mayo, chopped onions, celery, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, etc.
- I have a recipe on my website for homemade Larabars. They’re super easy to make and nice to have around!
A note on smoothies
While smoothies aren’t encouraged on Whole 30, I have found them to be a LIFESAVER while nursing in these first few weeks. Sometimes, it’s all I have time for. Always try and pack as many nutrients in, and skip adding a lot of fruit. My go-to smoothie recipe:
- One ripe banana
- Two handfuls spinach
- Half a cup frozen cauliflower rice
- Half a cup frozen wild blueberries
- 1/4-1/2 avocado
- Water or almond milk
- For an added protein boost, you can add a scoop of compliant collagen powder
Completing a Whole30 while breastfeeding is a great way to provide nutrition for your bundle of joy and to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. I hope these Whole30 tips for breastfeeding mamas help take any confusion or frustration out of it and help you have a successful 30 days!
Cate Free is a wife, mother, teacher, and runner. She dreams of one day running the Boston Marathon, growing her website to encourage other women, and building a community of women who support each other in their faith, fitness, and healthy lifestyles. She knows what it’s like to struggle with body image and want to live a healthy life. After having three kids, years of yo-yo dieting, self-loathing, and feeling out of touch with her body, she decided she wasn’t going to stand for it anymore. She wants to help you become your best self with encouragement, motivation, and guidance. Connect with Cate on her website or Instagram.