healthy snacks for breastfeeding mums for maximum nutrition

It can be really challenging to eat well as a new mum with a tiny baby to take care of.  When you’re sleep-deprived and you haven’t brushed your hair for three days, you won’t always have the time or energy to cook proper meals or prepare healthy snacks.  But as a breastfeeding mum, your nutrient intake needs to be higher than usual.  Hopefully you have people around you who can cook for you now and then.  Or maybe you’re super prepared with a freezer full of decent meals ready to grab.  But for those times when you have a baby that just won’t be put down, having a stash of healthy snacks on hand can really help maintain your mood and energy levels.  Plus, you’ll get the some of the extra calories and nutrition you need as a breastfeeding mum.

Nutritional Needs When Breastfeeding

Compared to a non-lactating female, breastfeeding mums need more:

  • Calories: an additional 400-500 calories a day.  More if you are breastfeeding twins or triplets, and less if you are combination feeding a mixture of breastmilk and formula.
  • Fluids: have plenty to drink, preferably water or herbal teas.
  • Vitamins: especially Vitamin A, Vitamin D (to help with calcium absorption), Vitamin E, Vitamin C and B Vitamins, particularly Folate (Vitamin B12).
  • Minerals: you need more Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Zinc, Iodine, and Selenium while breastfeeding.
  • Healthy Fats: The amount of fat in breastmilk doesn’t change much with diet. However, the type of fats you eat will affect the type of fats in your breastmilk.  So it’s still important to limit unhealthy fats such as cheap vegetable oils and instead enjoy high quality extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, oily fish, eggs etc.

Fortunately, you can meet most of these requirements just by eating a real food diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, protein and whole grains.  However, to make sure you get everything you need to keep you and baby strong and healthy, you can add healthy snacks for maximum nutrition.

Treat Yourself

We also all need a treat now and then too!  It’s important to enjoy yourself and the mood boost from enjoying something delicious and fun can offer a benefit to your wellbeing in the post-natal period. With regular junk food, you’re loading your body up with extra sugar and missing out on a whole bunch of nutrients. This can slow down post-pregnancy weight loss, make you feel tired and sluggish, and impact your mood as your blood sugar crashes a couple of hours later.  Eating real food, lower sugar treats is the answer here as you can enjoy delicious treats whilst also nourishing yourself and baby.

So what are the best homemade healthy snacks for breastfeeding mums to ensure you get maximum nutrition?  Let’s take a look…

Healthy Snacks for Breastfeeding Mums

  • Smoothies are a quick and easy way to get in some extra calories and nutrients. A green smoothie gives you several of your 5-a-day in one go.  It’s easy to add in extras like protein powder, nut butter, chia seeds or oats to make it even more filling and nutritious.  Here’s my favourite Healthy Thick Chocolate Milkshake. Adding in a greens powder will give an awesome nutrient boost.  You could also chuck some probiotic powder in too! It’s super important to keep your good bacteria levels up after childbirth.
  • Eggs are one of the most nutrient dense foods available. Our favourite at Treat Trunk headquarters is a poached egg on a plate of wilted spinach topped with roasted pine nuts.  What a treat for the mouth AND body! For a quick grab snack, boil eggs in advance.  Then just grab one from the fridge when you need an energy boost.  Or make egg mayo in advance and pop some in half an avocado or with a big salad.
  • Fish is another highly nutritious source of food. Make up tuna mayo with chopped up peppers & cucumber in advance to dip into when you need to.  Alternatively, tins of oily fish like sardines are quick, easy and one of the best foods for your body. Did you know they’re packed with calcium too?
  • Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein, minerals and healthy fats.  Eat a handful a day, or try snacks like Nut Butter Cups or Healthy Chocolate Truffles. Brazil nuts in particular are a fantastic source of selenium.  If you don’t have time to make your own, there are plenty of snack bars and energy balls available to buy that are based on nuts, like the ones in our subscription boxes.
  • Wholegrains – choose bread, crackers and biscuits made from the whole grain instead of white, refined flour. We love these Spelt, Pumpkin Seed and Apple & Carrot Muffins.  Cereal bars, oatcakes or flapjacks make for a grab and go option.  But be sure to look for healthier ones that aren’t packed full of refined sugar.
  • Avocados are a really healthy way to get your extra calorie intake, and they are chock-full of healthy fats. They also contain several of the specific minerals and vitamins needed during breastfeeding. They’re such an easy snack as you can just cut one in half and scoop it out.
  • Sauerkraut and kefir are great for your microbiome.  And since probiotics are passed to baby in breastmilk1 it’s win-win for mama and baby. Sauerkraut also has far higher nutrient content than regular cabbage.
  • Chia Seeds are an excellent source of essential fats, protein, calcium and iron.  All of which are essential for breastfeeding mothers.2
  • Houmous (with wholemeal pitta or vegetable crudites) makes for another plant-based nutritious snack full of vitamins and minerals. Make it with good quality extra virgin olive oil or other healthy alternative.  There are tons of fun oils to experiment with such as walnut, macadamia, apricot kernel, sesame, avocado…

Healthy Breastfeeding Snacks Make Happy, Healthy Mums

The first year after baby is born is incredibly hard.  Recovery from the birth, sleepless nights, extra energy needed for breastfeeding and added worry and guilt mean that preparing snacks from scratch is difficult if not impossible. I found myself many times during the early days trapped in bed or a sofa corner when bubs had fallen asleep on me after a feed.  So I learnt after my first child to have healthy packaged snacks on hand in those areas.  Snacking healthier with my second made SUCH a difference.

When my first child was born in 2011, packaged healthy snack options weren’t really mainstream. I gave birth to both of my children around Christmas time.  After a 2 day exhausting birth with my first, I waded through tubs of chocolates we’d been given as presents out of pure convenience.   I felt lethargic and unmotivated, which led to me feeling bad about myself.  With my second, I was well prepared and it went a million times better.  I breastfed her until she was 2.5 years compared to 8 months with my first.  It was the healthy packaged snacks that helped us get there.

Our subscription boxes are perfect for busy breastfeeding mums.  We’ll deliver a whole range of nutrient-dense, healthy snacks to your door every month, giving you more time to spend with your baby instead of in the kitchen! If you don’t have any other children just leave a note at checkout.  We can leave out any really kiddy snacks like Bear YoYos (although like myself, many adults love them too!)

References:

1 https://milkgenomics.org/article/mothers-milk-microbes/

2 https://aeroflowbreastpumps.com/blog/16-breastfeeding-superfoods

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