Both of my babies have been hungry feeders, eating excitedly and gaining rolls by the day! Although Louie scared us with reduced feeding for a short while but more on that later...
After a diminished appetite during pregnancy due to nausea, lack of space and a general disinterest in food, I’m relishing my new breastfeeding appetite! Demand feeding a newborn a second time around has made me absolutely ravenous and with the added sleep deprivation and busyness that comes with caring for a toddler also, I’m very aware of the importance of eating well both to sustain energy and milk production as well as supporting and replenishing vital stores that are often depleted going into the post-partum period. After the huge amount of effort that goes into growing a baby, sustaining a pregnancy and birthing a human being, Mothers should never underestimate the value of rest, restorative practises and wholesome food following the arrival of a little one (as much as possible with lack of sleep…don’t worry I get it!). This is even more important in subsequent pregnancies, because me-time with an older sibling is often few and far between for many mothers prior to conception and throughout pregnancy, myself included. I look back on my pregnancy with Isabella compared to my second with Louie and can't believe the amount of time I had just to look after myself and my burgeoning belly!
Here are a few of my favourites that I enjoy on a daily basis to help sustain nutrient levels and energy whilst breastfeeding Louie and caring for a toddler…and trying to maintain a somewhat chaotically organised household!
1.Coffee. When I’ve been up a few times in the night feeding Louie (this has reduced from 7/8 times per night to 3/4 since discovering he is a tummy sleeper thank goodness!), I welcome the voices of my little girl and husband in the morning to signal the start of a new day and the smell of our Mocka Pot. I purchased and bought home our beloved Mocka Pot from Italy after we lived there because as every Italian will confess, no home should be without one! I absolutely adore the aroma, the taste and the gentle kick it gives my energy levels. It makes me happy to the bottom of my favourite pottery mug and I wouldn’t start the day without it! I have also started to add a dash of cream to my coffee since Louie’s arrival and it is absolutely delicious. Again, it makes my heart do a wee happy dance and anything that does that has got to be good for a tired mum!
2. Toast. This is to satisfy my craving for carbohydrates and to replenish energy levels after a long night of feeding. I always choose a high fibre gluten-free bread or sourdough and top it with salted butter, Pics peanut butter and banana or avocado. These toast toppings are the perfect partner to my morning coffee as well as being a great source of protein, wholesome fats and vitamins and minerals.
3. Pic’s Peanut Butter. I’ll make special mention of this because I eat it without fail EVERY SINGLE DAY. Most often on toast as mentioned above but also added to smoothies (such as this one or this one) or stuffed in Medjool dates as a wholesome sweet snack.
4. Avocados. Packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, I could easily eat an entire avocado everyday (definitely one of my take-to-a-deserted island foods!). Sliced on toast with peanut butter is one of my treasured breakfasts or added to a quick lunch on toast with tomato and sauerkraut or with tuna and greens. Added to smoothies it also makes them gloriously thick and creamy.
5. Vegetables, Greens and Green Smoothies. What I haven’t included in the main image is vegetables and a green smoothie; however these are so important for energy! They contain loads of B-vitamins that are needed to unlock the energy found in food and make it available to the body. On a daily basis, I try to eat as many as I can by adding a handful of greens to lunch, adding cauliflower and green powder to smoothies and always, always, always having vegetables as part of our dinner meal. Whether it simply be steamed carrots, broccoli and peas (Isabella’s favourite!), or stir-frying greens in tamari and honey or enjoying a huge green salad alongside baked chicken or the husband’s crumbed fish. Delicious!
6. Homemade Baking. Nothing makes me want baked goods more than breastfeeding! And so I bake at least once a week to fill the tins. Most often wholesome chocolate chunk cookies, banana bread or breastfeeding cookies. These are great little snacks to have on hand when hunger strikes during the day between meals. On the odd occasion when I’ve felt like something during the night if I’ve been up for hours between feeds, I’ve enjoyed a cookie alongside a glass of milk whilst gazing out the kitchen window at the stars (wondering if I’ll ever sleep again!) before crawling back to bed. But always a huge glass or two of water throughout the night because feeding makes me extra thirsty!
7. Life Mum Post-Pregnancy Multi. Because as a mum of two, I knew I’d need a little extra help with restoring precious nutrient levels following the birth of Louie. My labour was unpredictable, fast and intense. This multi contains iodine to support a baby’s brain development and Vitamin D to support the immune system. Along with iron to help replenish stores following pregnancy and labour. As all mothers will know, blood loss is unavoidable during child birth and because it is the major determinant of iron status, it is especially important to restore vital levels after such an event and increased blood loss.
8. Dark Chocolate (Whittakers Dark Ghana is a favourite). This is just because I ADORE CHOCOLATE and most days will enjoy a few squares when I feel like it most. Sometimes this is mid-afternoon or sometimes after putting Louie down for the night and after my evening shower, enjoyed in peace and solitude as both babies sleep. Louie for how long, I never know!
9. Inner Health Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Probiotic capsules. When Louie was just three weeks old, he was admitted to the paediatric ward for an unknown illness after I rushed him to ED because I couldn’t rouse my normally insatiable baby boy for feeds. We spent the best part of a week there following a lumbar puncture and other fluid samples being taken to try and isolate the infection. In the meantime, IV antibiotics were given until the cause was found. Thankfully Louie had caught a viral infection, rather than a bacterial infection, and so we could cease antibiotics and go home as his heart rate, temperature and oxygen saturation had returned to normal. The experience will however stay with me forever, because as a mum it is the most heart breaking experience to see your newborn (and any child for that matter), so unwell and unable to do anything to help them other than nurse, love and cuddle them while relying on the health professionals to guide you. During his few days on antibiotics I noticed an upset tummy and then upon getting home, the development of a lot more wind than he had had prior to hospital. As a result, I started taking these probiotic capsules and increasing my intake of fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kombucha to help replenish Louie’s healthy gut bacteria that would have been diminished via the administration of antibiotics.
And finally, I’ll add here that a walk on most days if possible and amongst nature is by far one of the greatest things I enjoy that restores energy after a long night feeding. This and a midday nap if at all possible! Louie will sleep in the wrap during these walks and I adore the feeling of having my little one so close while stretching my legs and breathing in fresh wondrous air!
Breastfeeding a baby is such a beautiful yet demanding role and as such requires mothers to look after themselves well so that they can then nurture their babies while ensuring their vital nutrient stores stay topped up. This also goes for Mothers bottle feeding their babies, because caring for a baby, constantly changing nappies and holding and soothing your little one in the middle of the night requires energy, patience and love and all of which flow better if you are well nourished x