Sponsored Post By Natalie
We’ve all heard breast is best — and oh baby, it is! Breast milk is nature’s most perfect food. It is custom made for your baby, and it is dynamic — always changing based upon your growing bundle’s specific needs. What’s even more impressive is that breast milk can’t be duplicated. No two mothers have the same, and breast milk taken from you during one part of the day won’t even be the same as a sample taken from you a few hours later.
The human body is miraculous in that it has exactly what baby needs exactly when he or she needs it. Yes, breast milk is inherently superior to alternatives, but it also has its limits. You see, breast milk can only contain as many nutrients and vitamins as the mother takes in herself. If you’re expecting, here’s the bottom line: the more you are able to nurture mama and the more goodness you have in your body, the more power-packed your milk will be for your little one.
Not everyone chooses to breast feed and that’s perfectly OK. You should do what works best for you and your family. But if you are breastfeeding and you want to optimize your breast milk, here are some steps that you can take:
1) Remember that you’re still eating for two. Although you now get to hold your precious bundle of joy as they get their nourishment, as long as you are breastfeeding, your diet choices will have an impact on your baby’s long-term health. It could even affect the taste of your milk! Strive for variety and balance in your daily meals and snacks. It is a good idea to try to eat 2-3 servings of protein (antibiotic-free meats, eggs, dairy, beans, nuts and seeds are good choices), 3 servings of dark green and yellow vegetables, 2 servings of whole grains and 2 servings of fruit daily. Don’t forget that good fats are important so adding nuts and seeds to your salad or making guacamole from fresh avocados are great and tasty ways to accomplish this!
2) Stay hydrated. This may seem obvious, but did you know that breast milk is almost 87% water? That means your chances of becoming dehydrated while breastfeeding are increased unless you make a conscious effort to drink more water. Staying hydrated will help keep your system strong and healthy while helping to move out the unnecessary. It is estimated that breastfeeding mothers produce a little more than 3 cups of breast milk each day, so you need to up your water intake by almost that amount each day.
3) Get down to the bare bones . . . but add a dash of sea salt. Bone broth (made from organic, free-range, hormone-free animal bones) as a hot drink, soup or base for gravies and sauces is one of the most nutrient-dense and nourishing foods you can consume, and it is an absolute “must” for all new mothers. In addition to providing loads of nutrients to your baby, bone broth will do wonders to restore your body to good health after nine months of hard (but well worth it!) work. Not only will bone broth help restore the blood and fluid you lost during childbirth, it will strengthen your bones and support tendons and joints postpartum. On top of all of those great attributes, bone broth is easily assimilated in the body. And, your body will thank you for giving it this tasty, healing panacea.
4) Don’t put that prenatal vitamin bottle away yet. Most likely you did your research and were taking a prenatal vitamin while pregnant. Since you are already in the routine of taking a daily nutritional supplement, why stop? You and your baby still need those vitamins and minerals. Make sure your daily intake includes vitamin D (supports growth of teeth and bones), iron (carries oxygen to the blood), folate or folic acid (helps make new cells and synthesize DNA), calcium (keeps bones healthy) and omega 3 fatty acids (increases intellectual development).
5) Stay calm, cool and collected. Believe it or not, your breast milk may contain messages that your wee one can pick up on. As you may know, there will be a few little storm clouds that may accompany the joy of the arrival of your new little ray of sunshine. It may be juggling a now slightly chaotic schedule, dividing all of the extra responsibilities at home or convincing all of those friends and relatives to give you a bit of time before they show up at your doorstep anxious to come cuddle your new baby. Clearly, there may be times when your stress levels go up which causes a rise in your cortisol (the stress hormone). That smart little baby of yours will pick up on this stress signal you are sending him through elevated cortisol in your breast milk. There is evidence that indicates babies may become more nervous and less confident as a result of this intake of cortisol. So, while it may be hard to do, it is best if you can take a deep breath, listen to some soothing music and ride the wave of life’s challenges. By doing so you will send your baby a love note full of confidence and calmness.
6) Prioritize your gut health. In addition to life, love and nourishment, did you know that you are single-handedly responsible for providing your baby with his or her microbiome (aka, collection of beneficial bacteria) that will become the foundation of his or her immune system? This oh-so-vital transfer of microbes happens during the birth process (when baby travels through the vaginal canal) and the initial hours of skin-to-skin contact and continues throughout breastfeeding. Since most of our bacterial colonies reside in our gut, a mama with an out-of-balance gut will pass on this subpar microbial makeup to her baby through her breast milk.
Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD., Professor of Medicine and Director of Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA, said, “It is quite shocking to realize that the roots of the health of every organ of the body, including the brain, links with a healthy gut microbiome.”
Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take to improve your gut health and thus ensure your child is getting the optimal levels of probiotics each day. Most importantly, do your best to steer clear of unnecessary exposure to antibiotics as they will wipe out your good bacteria along with the bad. And, the more you are able to focus on a whole food, high fiber diet, the better. Studies have shown that the foods we eat can actually have a relatively quick effect on the microorganisms in our gut.
You can also proactively replenish your system with essential flora by adding an effective probiotic to your daily routine. Studies have shown that, in addition to passing the microbial benefits along to your child, taking a probiotic postpartum can improve your chances for successful breastfeeding, helps you shed the baby weight more quickly and decreases your chances of experiencing the baby blues. You might want to consider Hyperbiotics PRO-Moms, the first probiotic formulated specifically for expecting and nursing women.
According to the World Health Organization, if every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800, 000 children’s lives would be saved every year — not to mention the myriad of other benefits that breast milk provides for a lifetime of health. Now, imagine what the impact would be if this milk came from the healthiest mamas…
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