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  • Influencing Nutrient Levels In Breastmilk | with Laura Bond

    August 01, 2023 4 min read

    Breastfeeding nutrientsBreast milk is undeniably a remarkable source of tailor-made nutrients for our precious little ones.

    Every woman's breast milk volume may differ, but did you know that the nutritional composition of breast milk can vary too? Certain elements in breast milk can be influenced through diet and supplementation, and it's helpful for a new mother to be empowered with knowledge and support.

    Before delving in, let's acknowledge that breastfeeding can be challenging and emotionally taxing. The aim of sharing this with you is certainly not to add pressure but to provide you with valuable information so both you and your baby can thrive.

    The Power Of A Whole Food Diet During Breastfeeding

    Breastfeeding places significant nutritional demands on mothers. Embracing a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods is crucial to sustaining energy levels, even when sleep may be limited. Consuming such foods will not only support breastfeeding but also prevent nutrient deficiencies, benefiting both mother and baby.

    Understanding Macronutrient Content

    The macronutrient content of breast milk, comprising carbohydrates, protein, and fat, naturally adapts to meet the changing needs of the baby at different stages of development and throughout the day. Fortunately, this composition is not significantly affected by the mother's diet.

    Influencing Specific Nutrients In Breastmilk

    While macronutrients remain largely unchanged, some specific nutrients in breast milk can be influenced by a mother's diet. These include most B vitamins, choline, vitamin A, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and iodine. Being mindful of your food choices and supplementing where needed will help you to meet and even optimise these nutrient needs.

    Below are some important nutrients that can change in breast milk depending on what you eat, as well as some food that contains them.

    • B vitamins: nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, whole grains, eggs, legumes, fish, and meat
    • Choline: eggs, liver, beef, chicken, fish, and broccoli
    • Vitamin A: liver, eggs, and oily fish, and beta-carotene from dark leafy greens, pumpkin, sweet potato, mango, and capsicum
    • Vitamin C: tomatoes, capsicum, berries, citrus fruits, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
    • Vitamin D: safe sun exposure, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, etc.), eggs, and sunlight-exposed mushrooms
    • Vitamin E: nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, and avocado
    • Omega-3: oily fish, oysters, linseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts
    • Selenium: Brazil nuts, fish, meat, oats, and legumes
    • Iodine: seaweed, seafood, fish, eggs, and dairy products

    The nutrients listed below won’t alter your breast milk but they are still essential for your wellbeing, so it’s a good idea to incorporate some of these foods into your diet:

    • Folate: legumes, dark leafy greens, and avocado
    • Calcium: nuts, seeds, dairy products, dark leafy greens, and legumes
    • Iron: red meat, legumes, and dark leafy greens
    • Copper: whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and potatoes
    • Zinc: oysters, nuts, seeds, meat, and dairy products

    A Balanced Plate Approach

    Adopting a balanced plate approach can help meet your energy and nutrient requirements during breastfeeding. Here is a helpful (and low-maintenance) way to build a balanced plate:

    • Fill half of your plate: Colourful vegetables, ideally representing all the colours of the rainbow – leafy greens, tomatoes, capsicum, onions, mushrooms, eggplant, cabbage, and broccoli are excellent choices
    • Fill one-quarter of your plate: Starchy carbohydrates such as whole grains (rice, quinoa, spelt sourdough) or root vegetables (sweet potato, potato, beetroot)
    • Fill another quarter of your plate: Protein sources like legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans), fish, eggs, tofu/tempeh, dairy, or meat
    • Add some healthy fats: Incorporate sources like extra virgin olive oil, ghee, avocado, nuts, and seeds

    Make sure you switch up the components of your balanced plate to ensure a diverse array of nutrients from different sources throughout your day.

    Simplifying Food Prep

    Breastfeeding can be time-consuming, making meal preparation challenging. To make things easier, consider the following tips:

    • Roast a big tray of vegetables when you have assistance and store them for meals throughout the week.
    • Prepare nourishing healthy snacks for quick, one-handed munching
    • Utilise meal trains or pre-made meals to ensure you're well-nourished without added stress

    Supplementation

    Eating a nutrient-dense diet while breastfeeding can be challenging, and in some cases, supplementation may be necessary. If you find it challenging to meet your nutrient needs through food alone, continue taking your prenatal supplement during your breastfeeding journey. Be aware that most prenatal supplements may not contain choline or omega-3 fats, so consider supplementing them separately. For personalised guidance on supplementation, always seek advice from a healthcare practitioner to ensure safety and effectiveness for both you and your baby.

    Breastfeeding is a beautiful and rewarding journey that comes with unique nutritional considerations. Embracing a whole-food diet and mindful supplementation, if needed, can significantly influence nutrient levels in breast milk. Every breastfeeding journey is different, so take it one step at a time and prioritise your wellbeing as you nourish your precious little one.




    Looking for one-on-one guidance and support? You can book a one-on-one consultation with Laura here. As well as offering functional medical tests, Laura provides meal plans and recipes as part of her consultation.
    Laura Bond is a Nutritional Therapist at Floralia Wellness, committed to empowering mothers to make informed nutritional choices for themselves and their children. With a passion for supporting breastfeeding mothers and their babies, Laura strives to provide valuable information to help them thrive on their unique journey. 

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