Have you ever wondered – wait, HOW does food affect my milk supply? You’re not alone! Here are some of the facts – and myths – that you may have heard, or you may be wondering about when it comes to your diet and breastmilk supply. In this blog, you will find references to many science-based articles that provide important and factual information to help you better understand how your amazing body works!
In general, food affects our bodies in many, many ways. When you choose what foods to eat, those foods are eventually absorbed by the body. When the food you eat is broken down, it enters your bloodstream, providing vital nutrients to your body, allowing it to complete all the other important body functions that keep you moving on a daily basis.
Now, let’s consider how breastmilk is made!
A common misconception is that the “baby eats what you eat,” essentially meaning that breastmilk is impacted by your stomach contents. Actually, your breastmilk is created in the blood! Isn’t that fascinating? It sounds odd, but breast milk is basically just filtered blood! Since we’ve learned that the nutrients in your food enter your bloodstream, the truth is that what you eat DOES affect your milk supply, but this is due to the nutrients in the food and not the specific food itself. When baby suckles, it sends messages to your brain to release hormones to get the breast milk flowing! In fact, your baby’s saliva tells your body what kind of breastmilk to make. If baby is sick, it sends more antibodies. If they need some extra fat in their diet, it’ll do that. Aren’t we amazing creatures?
So how can you eat to best support your milk supply? First and foremost, you need to be getting adequate nutrition. Although you may be tempted to cut calories to lose the “baby weight,” that isn’t the most important thing right now. In fact, as a breastfeeding mama, you will burn an additional 500+ calories a day just by creating breastmilk – which means you’ll need MORE food than ever before! Try to eat as balanced of a diet as possible, including fruits and vegetables packed full of good, healthy nutrition. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are all essential as you heal from childbirth AND create breastmilk for your growing baby. That’s one of the reasons why breastfeeding moms love Bessie’s so much – not only do they include ingredients known to help you boost your milk supply, they are balanced nutritionally, intended to give you both the calories and a balanced snack to keep you healthy!
The best thing you can do for your milk supply is to feed your baby as often as possible. If you’re feeding at the breast, feeding on demand is the best way to maintain your supply. Trying to create a freezer stash? Pumping between sessions will also help! If you’re exclusively or mostly pumping, power pumping is also a great way to help encourage healthy supply. Additionally, proper hydration is absolutely essential, as well. It is so easy as a new mom to lose track of how much water you drink in a day, but you have to do your best to keep your hydration high! There are delicious drinks with added electrolytes or hydration boosters that may be of help to you, as well, but good ol’ fashioned H20 is the best way to stay hydrated. Try ordering yourself a big water jug and decorating it, so that it is personal to you and you always want it around.
As always, we recommend you talk to your doctor or Lactation Counselor with any questions or concerns. We hope that this has helped you to better understand how breastmilk is made, how what you eat impacts it, and what you can do to encourage a steady milk supply.