Breastfeeding and the Whole30
I’ve mentioned before that my health journey has been a roller coaster. That roller coaster gained a few more bumps and a lot more twists and turns after I had my first baby. I wanted my body back and fast and so dove head firsts into diets.
As a new nursing mama, I burned out fast. Nothing seemed to work and I simply didn’t have the energy or drive to restrict my eating like I was doing. The result was a little dieting, a little binging, and a lot of giving up. I lost weight but held onto 5-10 pounds and was just over it. Quickly, I realized that this was not making my happy and I wanted more for myself and I wanted to demonstrate healthy living to my son and this was not healthy.
That’s when I stumbled on the Whole30. I liked the idea of eating as much as I wanted but finding good and healthy foods again. Mindful eating always appealed to me, but I was so far down the road of dieting that I didn’t even know what that was or how to read my body’s signals. I wanted to see how I felt eating certain foods and eat to fuel my body again. The promise of energy, better sleep, clear skin, and a clear mind appealed to me so I began my journey.
Before starting, I researched immensely because I was scared to death that dropping out certain foods would make my supply plummet. Oatmeal in the morning was my go-to and I always noticed that it seemed to help my supply so I was worried what cutting it out would do to my supply.
My results? I did it! I completed the Whole30 and was able to successfully feed the baby! My body had to adjust to this new way of eating but after a day of minor fluctuation, I was able to troubleshoot and find ways to increase my supply. In the end my supply was as good or better than when I started!
Before you Begin
As a breastfeeding mama, remember your priorities. My priority was always to feed my baby. Going in, I wanted nothing more than to complete the program but went in the with mindset that if my supply dropped and I couldn’t get it back up, I would stop and reassess. Feeding my baby is number one.
Also, I did this when I had a 7-8 month old. I do not recommend doing this the day you bring your baby home from the hospital. Unless you have been eating like this, I would wait until you have your supply established before beginning this program.
Likewise, if you do not feel comfortable with this, talk to your lactation consultant or doctor. I would hope they would have knowledge of this program and be able to help you out. I do believe that they would give you the same advice I am about to.
I have talked to medical professionals about this, have researched and taken my own notes on the subject and do believe that anyone can complete this while maintaining a good supply but you may have to make some modifications throughout the program. Here are some tips that helped me:
Drink Your Water
This is for any breastfeeding mama, but milk cannot be made without water! You have to drink more water than you normally would without breastfeeding. Water is Key. Normally, it is recommended that you drink ½ of your body weight in water. A good rule of thumb for me is I aim for ¾ of my body weight in water while I am breastfeeding. I also add to that number if I workout or am active throughout the day.
If you find drinking that much water is difficult for you, try adding lemon to your water and make sure you keep your water with you at all times!
Eat Fruit and Starchy Vegetables
Around day 3, I woke up feeling shaky. I Googled it and came across a forum of a breastfeeding mom saying that she had the same issue. Apparently it is a thing. I started to add more sweet potatoes and fruit into my diet. For breakfast every day I made sure I had a sweet potato and some sort of fruit. This helped me out so much and I instantly felt better.
Throughout the program if I was ever dragging and overly tired, I did the same thing and had instant results. Your body is doing a lot, trying to nourish another human being and it needs those carbs so do not deny it!
Snack Throughout the Day
Although the program recommends getting rid of snacking for 30 days, this recommendation goes out the window if you are breastfeeding! Listen to your body, if you are feeling hungry, feed it. If you need energy, have a piece of fruit. You will still get great results but be able to better feed your baby and serve your family. Believe me, you’ll be a happier human being.
Make Sure you are Getting Enough Calories
It is easy on the Whole30 to be unintentionally not eating enough calories throughout the day. I am not advocating to count calories but I am advocating for you to take notice of how you feel, how much you are eating and how your milk supply is. If you feel like your milk supply is lacking, add a fourth meal to your day and if you are hungry; eat! (Do you sense a theme here? LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!)
I tried at have at least one fat source at each meal. In the morning I would often have coffee with coconut milk, lunch I had part of an avocado, and dinner varied. I also sipped on coconut water a lot and felt like coconut water really helped my milk supply rise significantly.
**Side note on coconut water. This is recommended by the author of the Whole30 – Melissa Hartwig. Many moms will tell you that Powerade or Gatorade will boost your milk supply and this is true! I often used this at the beginning of my breastfeeding journey, but coconut water will do the same thing. Coconut water has the same electrolytes that boost your supply as Powerade and Gatorade.
Never be caught unprepared. I usually would carry some sort of snack with me (a Larabar, Rx Bar, almonds, coconut, etc). Plan your day so you know when and what you will eat. Never be caught unprepared. If you are nursing, I am sure you are aware of breastfeeding hunger. It is a real thing and will be the end of you (or at least your Whole30) if it catches you unprepared. As with everything in the Whole30, BE PREPARED!
Troubleshooting Your Dropping Milk Supply
If you find that your milk supply has temporarily dropped, try these things. It is always best to be proactive with the tips I gave above, but these will help you to boost your supply again. Remember, your milk supply may drop slightly temporarily as your body adjusts to this new way of eating, but it should come right back up very quickly if you are following these tips.
- Add a fourth meal to your day – You likely need more calories
- Sip on coconut milk or make a smoothie with coconut milk and fruit
- Try taking Fenugreek
- Drink more water
- Add a starchy vegetable and fat to every meal
- Take Magnesium and Vitamin D
That’s all I have for you! If you have any questions, comment below and I will answer or guide you in the right direction!