It’s that time again - looking back/reflecting on the past year and setting new goals and expectations for the New Year. While you may or may not put any weight behind resolutions, many people do. Quite often, those New Year’s goals have something to do with diet, exercise, and health. So how can you incorporate those healthy goals while breastfeeding?
First, breastfeeding in and of itself is one of the healthiest decisions you can make, not only for your infant, but yourself as well. Breastfeeding decreases a mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. So you are already off to crushing those health goals!
Second, kudos to making a decision to invest in yourself and your health. In Western medicine, diet and exercise are often overlooked as a simple, yet effective way to decrease risks of diseases and in some cases, even stop a disease process altogether. Taking the first step and creating a goal for your health is commendable. You always want to make sure you are ready to begin any diet and exercise program, especially after a recent birth so checking in with your primary care provider beforehand is recommended.
Breastmilk production is an intricate process that uses the nutrients from a mother’s body and creates a “living” fluid designed with everything a growing babe needs. As such, the way a mother nourishes her body can potentially impact the quality of her breastmilk as well as her production levels.
According to the CDC, “Breastfeeding mothers generally need more calories to meet their nutritional needs while breastfeeding. An additional 330 to 400 kilocalories (kcal) per day is recommended for well-nourished breastfeeding mothers.” This number can be affected by a mom’s age, activity level, and level of breastfeeding. A healthy, balanced diet with adequate amounts of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates from all food groups is essential for a breastfeeding mom. Restrictive diets that create large calorie deficits and eliminate food groups may have an impact on breastmilk production. Strenuous, heavy exercise may also impact production. So what does all this mean?
Start slow. Increase your water intake and eliminate any sugary drinks and sodas. Swap that dessert for a fruit bowl instead. Aim to eat proteins and veggies at every meal. Don’t skip meals. Occasional fasting has benefits but if not done correctly, it can lead to binging and overeating later.
Start by taking a brisk, 30 minute walk everyday. Use a stationary bike. Park your car in the spot farthest away from the entrance. Take the stairs. Increase your movement daily.
These small changes add up. Increased energy levels, better sleep quality, and overall a general sense of wellbeing are often noticed once we are consistent with our diet and exercise choices.
Good luck! You’ve got this.
Share some of your 2024 health goals below with a comment or leave some on our social media!