How to Create Better Quality Breast Milk
Expert tips on optimizing your own health and making the best quality milk for your baby, whether you're nursing or pumping.
As we continue to shield ourselves from an invisible threat that has taken so many lives and scarred others we find that our lives have completely changed in the process. However, fear of isolation and the pivots of 2020 have certainly taught us how important it is to prioritize our own health and well being. In addition to this, it has also challenged us to question everything we do, and pay more attention to what we choose to consume.
Becoming a new mom means taking on a new life and a new role. For many it may feel like a blank slate that grants us the freedom and responsibility to nurture and nourish a new life.
Breast milk is liquid gold, specially designed by nature for babies and has the capability to do so much. When a new mom makes the choice to breastfeed their newborn they are taking on a lot of new challenges. Owning comfortable nursing bras can be very helpful by improving efficiency in a time fraught with transition. However, while it’s important and in many ways necessary to declutter our closets by investing in durable, multi-functional pieces, we must also declutter our minds and diets.
It has become quite apparent that nursing brands have gone out of their way to promote their products by placing an emphasis on milk production while undermining the importance of improving the quality of breast milk. Scientific research suggests that milk quality can greatly impact milk supply which in turn can ensure the health of our little ones.
Breast milk quality is influenced by two factors: genes and diet.
While we have no control over our genes, we do have complete influence over our diet! Of course for new moms this is easier said than done. During a time in one’s life when it might be challenging to even find time to shower, it is equally difficult to find an opportunity to research, buy, prepare and consume healthy foods. However, these things are vital for every breastfeeding mom because the quality of diet will greatly impact the quality of breast milk produced.
Nowadays, breast milk is constantly being researched with new findings emerging all of the time. We are aware that there is a stress component, and a diet quality component. These two factors combined can greatly affect the quality of breastmilk produced.
If we were to break it down, this is what producing quality breast milk would look like.
Decrease maternal stress + mindful eating = better quality breast milk. Let’s unpack it.
1) Decreasing maternal stress.
Clinical evidence suggests that maternal stress can greatly affect the quality of breast milk that is produced. According to medical professionals at UT South Western Medical Center, stress brought on by lack of sleep can raise the level of certain hormones in the body such as cortisol which can in turn dramatically decrease milk supply. In addition to this, studies have also shown that stress and lack of sleep can also affect the quality of milk produced as well as the amount.
A study published in the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association has shown that maternal psychological state may affect the immune properties of breast milk. During this period in your life it is vital that you have a support system in place to ensure that your mental state is good.
2) Mindful Eating.
Breastfeeding requires 500-600 additional calories per day that’s why taking on a healthy and nutritious diet is vital to improving the quality of milk produced. In a social media run era where “bounce back,” bodies are the norm there is an underlying pressure for women to lose weight and restore their body to its original form immediately after giving birth.
However, it is vital that you put your health and the baby’s health first! Inorder to increase your milk supply and improve the quality of milk produced you must consume a sufficient amount of food. Medical professionals at Children's hospital Philadelphia suggest that increasing proteins, fruits and vegetables can greatly improve your breast milk and advises that nursing mothers eat healthy snacks between meals.
Making these two changes can improve the quality of breast milk produced which in turn, will increase milk supply.
Producing better quality breast milk can help ensure a healthier future for our children. Nutrition during the first 1000 days of a baby’s development will set them up for a lifetime of health. This is not to say that quantity doesn’t matter. It does. And for the 4-5% of women who experience chronic low milk supply, ensuring infants receive enough energy is vital.
it is important to understand that with quantity as a primary focus for all breastfeeding mothers, we are missing the importance of quality nutrition.The quality of a mother’s diet affects the quality of her breast milk and better quality breast milk can help create healthier humans due to the powerful effects of nutritional programming.
We owe it to this next generation to do better. Like many things in life, remember to focus on quality over quantity.