Breastfeeding is somewhat of a social taboo these days, but being a vegan and a mother has only strengthened my support for breastfeeding. When my first son was born, I didn’t think twice about breastfeeding – for starters, it’s FREE, it’s natural, and when you really think about it – why would you rather give your precious baby the milk from a cow than from your own body? It just makes so much sense – humans milk is for human babies, and cows milk is for calves. Breast is best! I am now breastfeeding into the 2nd year of my second son’s life and I see no reason to stop yet, my son is absolutely thriving! Also, the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding at least until the age 2 – I completely agree.
Breastfeeding can however be taxing on your body. Human breastmilk is the same quality when you get it from a vegan or non-vegan, whether you drink cows milk or almond milk, as your body will find the nutrients somewhere in your body to produce your milk. So if you aren’t eating a nutritious diet (which can be difficult as a new mum, I know – you have other things to be worrying about instead of eating!) your body may be stripped of valuable nutrients. Your baby won’t be malnourished from a diet of breastmilk, however you may end up being so. This is why it is so important to eat healthy (and plentifully) during the time you are breastfeeding. Eating well and drinking plenty of water is also important to keep up your breastmilk supply, particularly important during those first few weeks.
So what to eat while breastfeeding? Trail mixes of nuts and dried fruit are excellent snacks – I use to keep some in the car to eat while driving if I was hungry, both when pregnant and afterwards. Fresh fruit is also a good choice for snacks, it is hydrating and full of nutrients. Make green smoothies for breakfast or in between meals, and make fresh salads to go with lunch and/or dinner – I really believe that leafy green vegetables are important in a vegan diet, so try to eat some each day in some form, either in smoothies, salads, or cooked.
And if you’re worried about losing the weight you put on during pregnancy – don’t be! If you breastfeed, it will work it’s way off during the first year of your baby’s life without you having to do much at all – as I mentioned earlier, the breastmilk will gather it’s nutrients from your body, and this includes fat (which is a vital part of milk). So really, feel free to eat as much as you feel necessary while you are breastfeeding – if you are hungry, eat! Also note that you should be eating a bit extra to account for the milk your body is producing. For more information about extra nutrients required during breastfeeding, please read this page at The Vegan Society.
One of my favourite treats to have on hand during this stage of my life are raw vegan bliss balls – made with protein-rich almonds, medjool dates and cacao nibs, they are both nourishing and energising for your body.
Baby Bliss Balls
Makes about 12 balls
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup raw walnuts
2 tbsp raw cacao nibs
4 pitted medjool dates
A little water, if needed
1. Place almond and walnuts in food processor, blend until finely chopped.
2. Add cacao nibs and dates and blend until the mixture starts to stick together.
3. Get your hands in there and form some little bliss balls! If your mixture if a bit dry and not sticking well, add a little bit of water – start with 1 tsp, you won’t need much!
4. Serve and enjoy (or just eat them as you make ;) )