The #Breastfeeding Diet: A Hoax?
Throughout my breast feeding experience, I have heard questionable - to out-right-horrible - breastfeeding advice. The one that takes the cake is the "breastfeeding diet". The breastfeeding diet is the belief that breast feeding moms must eat a perfect balance of healthy foods in order to produce “good” milk. This concept espouses that lactating women have “special nutritional needs”.
I’m not a lactation consultant, nor a nutrition specialist. All I have is my humble history of exclusive, extensive breastfeeding that spans over a period of 17 years. There have been times when I was breastfeeding and my diet was definitely not good.
Doing the research, I happened upon this website.
“A poor diet for you will probably mean you won’t make enough milk for your baby to grow properly. If you do not eat enough, you may not make enough milk.” - Alabama Cooperative Extension Systems
Amazingly, this statement along with other horrible advice comes from a university. This statement is jaw-droppingly incorrect. How many poor moms read that statement and determined breastfeeding was impossible?
I was wracked with guilt when my diet wasn’t where it should be nutritional, then. Even guilt-ridden, I noticed my babes thrive in spite of poor eating habits. My breast milk production has always stayed stable during those times. In saying this, there was only ONE situation when I’ve experienced a decrease in milk production: When the baby was nursing less.
There have been times when I simply thought I was not producing enough milk because of a bad breast pump. When I needed to go out, I would pump and only produce a few drops of milk. That brought out the opinions of others. “Oh, you’re not producing enough milk!” It wasn’t until my 6th baby I realized it wasn’t me… but a quality-poor pump I had used for several nursing cycles!
I can write a book about the times I thought my diet played a factor in my unfounded fears of the “lack” of milk production that plagued me. Bad pumps, bad diet advice, and nosey opinions are truly inhibiting!
A “bad diet” does not make bad, or insufficient milk. That is a hoax. The truth of my experience has been this; a nutritionally inadequate diet doesn’t take from the nutritional value of breast milk because breast milk is nutritionally natural. In other words, it's the perfect food for humans!
While a good diet can add to the nutritional value of breast milk, it’s vital to understand that a “bad diet” cannot deduct from it.
As a matter of fact, the only time I’ve experience nutritional deficiency was on MY END. I fed my first-born exclusively until a year (she refused solids at 6 months) when I contracted pneumonia, the sickest I’ve ever been in my life, I knew the exclusivity of feeding a one-year-old, was taking a toll. I began her on solids, which she was quite ready for. This whole time, she was a fat, juicy bouncing baby who got a clean bill of health at every doctor visit.
The LLLI has wonderful, affirming information about eating while lactating.
“Over the years of experience with breastfeeding mothers all over the world, LLL Leaders have seen that the best diet for a breastfeeding mother is neither complicated nor expensive. It doesn’t require lengthy preparation, the sacrifice of favorite foods, or any need to eat unusual or strange foods in large quantities. It can also vary with an individual’s own preferences.”“In recent years, research has confirmed that even if some nutrients are missing in a woman’s daily diet, she will still produce milk that will help her child grow. There is very little difference in the milk of healthy mothers and mothers who are severely malnourished. For example, if a mother’s diet is lacking in calories, her body makes up the deficit, drawing on the reserves laid down during pregnancy or before. Unless there is a physical reason for low milk production, a woman who breastfeeds on cue will be able to produce enough milk for her baby, regardless of what she eats.” – Read More - LLLI
My advice to the breastfeeding moms?
Common sense and a water bottle.