Bulletproof Baby: lactating mothers, do not fear eating quality fats!
Just wanted to recap what I have learnt about breastmilk and what to eat to support the production of nutrient-dense milk for a newborn! I did mention it in my previous blog but not so much in details…
When I first started with breastfeeding, I was a bit upset because I did not produce that much milk like some people say they could. In the Contented Little Baby Book, I was supposed to express 3 oz every morning BEFORE I feed the baby. That was just impossible! But then I realized that my milk seemed to have more hindmilk quality with more fat content from my high fat diet. My baby was still gaining weight steadily and the doctor said everything was ok, so I guess it is not the quantity, but the quality which matters!
So what conclusion can I draw from this? A mother’s diet has a significant influence on the fat content of her milk, and we should not be scared of consuming lots of good quality fat! Many say fat clogs the milk duct but I don’t really have problems with that. It may be true if you do consume bad quality fat. Or, if the oil you take has bad omega 3/6 ratio, where Omega 6 causes inflammation in your body, which could result in blockage of milk ducts.
Some remarks about fat & Omega 3/6 ratio
Human beings evolved eating a diet with a Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio of about 1:1. Modern Western diets exhibitOmega 6: Omega 3 ratios ranging between 15:1 to 17:1! So we should choose our food wisely to aim for at least 3:1 if possible! My favorite source of Omega 3 is Atlantic krill oil and wild caught salmon 🙂 Here is a list of some food you may eat often. There are many more similar tables like these. If you like nuts, take a look if your favorite nuts have a good Omega 3: 6 ratio or not. You may be surprised!
Here is how the Bulletproof Diet categorizes various fats. Also we need to watch out how to eat it, for example, if you deep fry with unstable oil, it gets oxidized and you will lose benefits from it 🙁
I see a flow chart like this:
Nutrient-dense milk → More satiated baby → Happier mother & family → Stable milk production → A happy, healthy baby!
OK, here are some notes on science….
- Traditional dietary fat in mother’s diet increases milk fat as well as the enzymes lipase, esterase and alkaline phophatase, all necessary for baby’s optimal assimilation and digestion.
- Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in mother’s milk are required for the development of their nervous systems, which accumulate in the brain and retina. The level of arachidonic acid (AA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are strongly influenced by the mother’s diet. Likewise, harmful fat will show up in breast milk if the mother consumes industrial fats and oils such as corn and soy (high omega 6 oils).
- Saturated fat is also very important for breast milk. It stimulates the immune system and work synergistically with DHA and AA to maintain them in the tissues where they belong. Meat and dairy products from pasture-raised animals can provide rich linoleic acid (CLA), which is believed to have a positive effect on the immune system in the prevention of excess weight gain.
- Dietary carbohydrate can be converted to beneficial short- and medium-chain fatty acids, therefore some carbohydrate intake is beneficial.
Vitamines and minerals
There is something, which had been bothering me lately: FATIGUE. As I mentioned before, I thought that the decrease in adrenaline coupled with lack of sleep was the main cause. However, as I was reading the Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon, there it was: lactation requires high amount of Vitamin B6, therefore mothers tend to experience Vitamin B6 deficiency. All B vitamins help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy.
It makes sense! The timing fits, this started right after I went through a week of routine to boost my milk supply from the Contented Little Baby book. Increased milk supply, happier baby, more tired mommy!
One more interesting remarks I found in the book. Nursing women should refrain from heavy exercise. WHAT?
…. but why?????? don’t you just have to increase the Vitamin B6 intake? They say lactating women require 2.0mg of Vitamin B6. 200g of raw salmon contains 1.3mg, which I eat frequently. The rest…. from this list below, I am only interested in eating salmon, beef and spinach, the rest is so-so. But keeping up with more than 2.0mg seems quite challenging. I ordered some supplements so let’s see if this could help me boost some energy.
1) Wild Caught Tuna 3 oz: 0.87 mg (44% DV)
2) Banana 1 medium: 0.43 mg (21% DV)
3) Salmon 3 oz: 0.7 mg (35% DV)
4) Grass-fed Beef 3oz: 0.57 mg (30% DV)
5) Chicken breast 3 oz: 0.46 mg (23% DV)
6) Spinach (cooked) ½ c: 0.22 mg (11% DV)
7) Sweet potato ½ cup: 0.29 mg (15% DV)
8) Hazelnuts ½ c: 0.38 mg (19% DV)
9) Turkey 3 oz: 0.691 mg (35% DV)
10) Garlic 3 cloves: 0.11 mg (5% DV)
Choline! I have been trying to eat eggs especially egg yolks since I was pregnant but it hasn’t been so easy. I HATE YOLKS. I love egg white, or if both are mixed, I am ok. But yolks alone??? Moreover, I am terrified of salmonella. I live in Thailand and I just do not trust the food safety here so much. I do take a few drops of grape seeds extract but if that really helps? Anyway, it has been very hard for me to eat them every day so I’ve decided to get a supplement for days I don’t eat eggs. It is essential for the development of the brain and nervous system. In the Better Baby Book by Dr. Lana Asprey, she recommends 2 raw egg yolks every day for pregnant women. For lactating women, it should be the same, but ahhhh it is horrid! But you know what, I do anything for my baby boy! Yeah I know that liver is rich in choline but that really makes me throw up, hahaha.
Vitamin A! I did not know that adequate supply of Vitamin A can only be met with consumption of animal foods rich in the true form, not from fruits and vegetables. I thought of green veggies and carrots would do, but apparently it is not enough. Well, this is not a problem because I do eat grass-fed beef regularly and ghee has been my best friend.
Interestingly, women should not lose weight too quickly after the birth of a baby. Why? Because the body needs time to rebuild vitamin A. This is new to me. I am still above the pregnancy weight but right now I just want to focus on getting the most optimal nutrients for producing the quality breast milk so that is ok. But I do need to find more time to engage in some more exercising. On average I breast feed 5 hours a day, which is not exactly great for my posture. I have some problems with my lower back and stretching in the evening alone is not enough.
OK, time to do some workout!