As a mother, you need to fuel yourself and your baby. Prepare for your hunger with these breastfeeding snacks and easy ways to stay hydrated.
During overwhelming motherhood moments, it can be tempting to reach for calorie-dense foods that offer minimal nutrition. Check out these helpful tips and breastfeeding snacks to help you manage seemingly out of control hunger levels and understanding your body cues.
Manage the Breastfeeding Snack Attack!
Life is about balance. Nutritionally speaking, balance can be achieved through a mixture of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. If you are looking for a meal that will satisfy hunger and provide long-lasting energy, be sure to include high fiber foods. Ideally, create a snack or meal that contains all of these components!
Lacking some snack-spiration? Check out these wholesome and healthy breastfeeding snack options.
- A fresh apple or veggies with hummus (yes, it’s a delicious combo)
- Greek yogurt, berries and walnuts
- A piece of fresh fruit and string cheese
- Nuts, nut butter, or seeds with yogurt or fruit
- An egg with whole-grain toast and veggies
- Veggies with cashew cheese or Greek yogurt herb dip
- Turkey with a slice of whole-grain bread and veggies
- Snack bars like RX bar, Kind brand or Lara bars (they are easy to grab and go!)
- Homemade energy balls, such as Chocolate Chip Oat Protein Bites. They are packed with protein, oats, and healthy fats, and the recipe will make enough to store for your next hunger strike.
- Smoothies are perfect for packing a nutrient punch. Sip this power smoothie bowl with a straw or eat with a spoon after blending in your toppings.
- Check out 50 Healthy Snack Ideas for You and the Kids to Love for more ideas!
While it might be tempting to grab cookies and cakes, it’s best to limit your intake of processed and refined carbohydrates. Snacks should satisfy your hunger, which processed (although tasty) foods will not!
Understand Your Body Cues While Breastfeeding
Between pregnancy and breastfeeding, a mom’s body goes through many changes, making it sometimes challenging to be in tune with bodily cues. While mothers always put their children first, it’s important to focus on both hydration and sleep to promote breastfeeding health.
Breastfeeding Hydration and Hunger
Most commonly, new moms mistake feelings of thirst for hunger, which feel similar. It’s a common confusion even amongst non-breastfeeding adults! Since it’s crucial to stay hydrated when breastfeeding, being mindful of your body’s signals is key. The Institute of Medicine recommends about 13 cups of water per day for breastfeeding women, about 4 cups more than if non-pregnant women. (1)
If you struggle to maintain adequate hydration, consider these helpful tips!
- Keep a full reusable water bottle near the area you usually breastfeed or on your desk.
- Experiment with infusing different combinations of fruits, vegetables, and herbs into your water to keep it interesting. Cucumber, lemon, and mint spa water is a refreshing and delicious option!
- Sip on small amounts of water consistently throughout the day. Set an alarm on your phone for a reminder.
- Include fruits and vegetables like cucumbers and watermelon, which are mostly water, into your snacks.
- Try making one of these hydrating popsicles that can double as a healthy breastfeeding snack.
Sleep and Hunger for New Moms
Wouldn’t it be nice if new mothers could get a full night’s sleep and wake up feeling rested? But, as any mother in history can attest, getting quality sleep with a newborn is a serious challenge. Sleep deprivation can significantly affect a mother’s ability to make healthy mealtime choices. In fact, research shows that greater amounts of sleep deprivation is associated with more intense cravings for calorie-dense foods.
A lack of sleep can also physiologically increase the hormones responsible for appetite. (3) In other words, sleep deprivation can affect the types of food that a mother craves and the amount consumed. The advice you’ll keep hearing as a first-time mom, is sleep when you can. Therefore, mothers must optimize their sleep quantity and quality (often easier said than done) to encourage healthy choices to maximize nutrients within their breastmilk.
Remember, Your Baby’s Eating Too
When preparing snacks, it’s essential to keep in mind that your baby is also eating whatever you eat. The taste of your breast milk changes according to your diet and can play a role in your child’s palate. Research shows taste begins in infancy, first through the amniotic fluid, and then through the mother’s milk. (2).
Pre-exposing your baby to various healthy whole foods will provide a foundation for healthy eating habits that will carry them through adulthood. Including healthy foods for breastfeeding, such as different color vegetables, herbs, and spices, is an excellent way to expose your child to various tastes.
Experiment with traditional spices from Latin American, Asian, Middle-Eastern, Italian or other cultures that use unique flavors. Perhaps use your slow-cooker for an easy yet aromatic curry dish! For more ideas on how to spice up your life, check out this helpful guide for preparing everyday dishes in healthier ways.
In the end, a little organization can go a long way! It’s important to healthfully fuel yourself today to establish your baby’s nutritious habits tomorrow. While it may be difficult at times, strive for progress, not perfection.
To learn more on breastfeeding see these articles from lactation experts:
- Why New Breastfeeding Moms Benefit from Lactation Consultants
- Preparing for Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding Questions and Answers
Then visit our breastfeeding section to learn more!