That dreaded last week before you return to work as your maternity break winds down offers enough jitters to manage. Amongst the various thoughts that may enter through your mind – the focus on breastfeeding/pumping and how you're going to manage it all is almost always at the top of the list. Aside from stressing less and keeping calm (low anxiety), one of the best ways to ensure that your supply stays plentiful is by incorporating a good meal plan. Adequate nutrition intake and optimal nutrition choices do have a positive impact on breast milk supply. Because returning to work requires a lot of planning, we’ve put together a list of lunch staples so that you can stay nourished and keep your breastfeeding/nursing routine going the way YOU want.
- Iron rich foods – With busy days, you’ll need your energy. Iron rich foods are not only a nutritious option for moms -- to provide you with the mojo to conquer the day -- but also for your little ones as you continue to nurse. Consider a spinach or kale salad, soup or stew with legumes, or even a lean ground beef burger.
- Hydration – Staying hydrated throughout the day is essential to keep you feeling stable and focused. Adequate water supply is important to help keep up breast milk supply, but it’s also effective in preventing dehydration related symptoms such as cramping, weakness, lethargy and headaches. Consider water rich foods such as cucumber slices, cauliflower based foods, broccoli, strawberries, and melons when in season.
- Protein fuel – Protein rich sources will not only help you stay full longer but also provide you the energy to sustain for the day. Women who nurse need the additional protein as well. Try to incorporate a protein source at every meal, especially lunchtime, to help power through the second half of the day. Consider sandwiches with lean grilled meats or egg / chicken salad, or a leafy green salad topped with a protein of choice, or a legume/grain combination.
- Nuts & Seeds - Nuts and seeds come in a variety of different ways – either as pieces, through cooking oils or even nut butters. In fact, almonds, flax seed and sesame seeds have been considered as lactogenic. You could incorporate them into baked recipes, spread them on fruits and veggies, make sandwiches out of the nut butters, add seeds on top of a salad, or even add them to a super food smoothie blend.
There are a variety of ways to ensure you’re taking care of yourself through the busy work week by choosing a healthy combination of foods to help you keep your energy and your nursing supply on the up. Here's to keeping the transition back to work smooth and steady!