Five Reasons Breastfeeding Mums Shouldn't Skip Breakfast
We have all heard it before, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is particularly true for breastfeeding mums. Some people may skip breakfast for various reasons such as running late, lack of time to prepare breakfast or because they are wanting to lose weight and watch their body weight. However, as a nutritionist, I believe consuming a healthy breakfast can offer many benefits and should not be skipped by breast feeding mums.
New mums may skip breakfast for a number of reasons. In the busy early days of motherhood it is easy to lose track of time as our focus is purely on our littles ones, and looking after ourselves takes a back seat. Or for some mums, weight loss is key, so the idea of skipping breakfast as a strategy to help lose the excess weight seems appealing. But breakfast is especially important for breast feeding mums.
When breastfeeding, it is recommended to avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast. Here are my top five reasons for why breastfeeding mums should not skip breakfast:
1. The recommended daily calorie intake for breast feeding mums is actually about 300-400 calories more than the recommended daily calorie intake that is recommended for pregnancy. Consuming enough calories is important to help with breastmilk supply. Cutting calories is therefore not ideal for breast feeding. Having breakfast will help a breast feeding mum consume these extra recommended calories in a healthy way, and will help her reach the nutritional needs which have been recommended, to help your body produce enough/more milk for your baby.
2. Not only does our calorie intake increase while we are breastfeeding, our nutritional needs change too, with our bodies needing more of a range of nutrients. Breakfast is the number one meal that seems to cover the biggest range of different food products, promoting a more balanced intake and range of calories and nutrients. Popular breakfast foods include fruits, cereals, milk, eggs, whole grain breads, veggies, nuts, meats and legumes. No other main meal seems to cover such a wide range of vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals. Breakfast can therefore help us consume our daily nutrient intake.
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3. If we do not eat enough we usually feel hungry and exhausted. By skipping breakfast while breastfeeding these feelings feel exaggerated, and occur earlier in the day. This can affect our focus, our concentration and our moods. New mums are challenged by changing hormones and a lack of sleep. The additional effects from skipping breakfast can, and should be prevented. The best way to do this is to make sure we feed our brains with enough energy. Our brains need glucose to function, and it is needed early on in the day. By consuming breakfast we can give our brains the glucose it needs.
4. Although skipping meals seems like a great way to cut calories and lose weight, constantly putting our bodies through periods of starvation can actually cause the opposite. Periods of starvation can in fact cause weight gain, and post pregnancy, this is the last thing most new mums want. Starvation can affect our insulin’s response, resulting in excess sugar being stored as fat rather than being broken down, thus leading to weight gain. So while skipping meals may seem like a convenient way for new mums to try lose weight, skipping breakfast affects our hormones and hinders our ability to lose weight.
5. When we eat, we feel better. We are less moody and cranky, we have more energy and seem to get through the day. Eating breakfast can also help us eat better throughout the day too. When we eat a healthy, balanced breakfast, we are more likely to eat better throughout the rest of the day too. We are less likely to consume foods higher in fats and sugars. This is because our insulin levels are more levelled and less likely to spike.
Insulin spikes cause cravings for foods higher in fats and sugars, leading to excess consumption of high calorie foods, causing weight gain. Having stabilised insulin levels is important for overall health too, particularly when it comes to diabetes. Spiking insulin levels can increase the risk and onset of post pregnancy diabetes and other health issues that may arise, which can have detrimental effects to mum and baby.
A good breakfast is essential for breast feeding mums to stay healthy and focused, keep energy levels strong, consume enough calories, get a range of nutrients, and even help with weight loss. Skipping breakfast can affect our hormones and body functions
Here are my top 5 food suggestions that I recommend breast feeding mums to try consume on a regular basis as part of their breakfast meals:
1. Varied fruits
2. Beans and Legumes
4. Nuts and Seeds - Pinky's Boobie Brekkie has sunflower, Pumpkin and flax seeds and is rich in Omega3 fatty acids
5. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Disclaimer: Results may vary. Exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss. Consult with your health care processional before beginning any diet or exercise regime.
Tammy Mond is a registered dietician living in Melbourne , she is also a breastfeeding mum with a beautiful baby daughter.
For effective tips to boost your breast milk supply, download our FREE ebook 'Making More Mummy Milk, Naturally' by Pinky McKay, IBCLC Lactation Consultant.