The transition into motherhood is incredibly unique. Every new mother will have a completely different experience to the next, and although the body physiologically goes through the same changes - the way you experience these changes is unique to you alone. It’s pretty amazing, but there’s no denying that the rapid change in hormones postpartum can be really tough to navigate.
To understand how you can best support your body through these changes, it’s important to know how your hormones are fluctuating throughout this transition.
Your hormones postpartum
After nine months of growing a little human inside you, your hormones begin to shift as soon as your baby arrives into the world. Suddenly, both estrogen and progesterone levels drop dramatically, in such a way that it can mimic symptoms of menopause. Prolactin levels rise in order to produce breast milk, while oxytocin rises (your feel-good hormone that supplies you with all those loved-up feelings postpartum) in response to breastfeeding.
Within the first 48 hours post-birth, new mothers are prone to experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions as their body adjusts to a new norm. The sudden drop in sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) paired with a rise in cortisol can lead to the emotional ‘highs and lows’ that many new mothers experience.
Because of the significant hormonal changes, interrupted sleep, physical and psychological recovery (plus the emotional highs and lows), new mothers are prone to postnatal depletion. From the nutrients lost during pregnancy and birth to the exhaustion from caring for a newborn - there are many factors that can set new mothers up for turbulence (physically, mentally and emotionally).
In the same way that mothers-to-be plan for birth, it’s just as crucial to be planning for a smooth transition into the postpartum - a.k.a. the 4th trimester. Optimising your nutrition to prevent postnatal depletion and support a healthy milk supply is the goal!
Nutrition for breastfeeding mamas
Protein - Protein makes up a large amount of breast milk, so increasing your intake is key to producing a high quality supply! A higher protein intake will help you increase the production of your breast milk, supporting the growth and development of your bub. Protein is also essential for balancing blood sugar levels, which not only encourage balanced hormones, but also keep your mood stable. Foods rich in protein include free range chicken, grass-fed beef, salmon, eggs, tempeh, hemp seeds, or our Balance Protein powder. Aim for 20-30g of protein at each meal, adding in high protein snacks in between.
Look out for nutrient deficiencies - Low iron is a common deficiency post birth. Focus on increasing iron rich foods like dark leafy greens, chickpeas, blackstrap molasses and good quality red meat.
Hydrate - Keeping hydrated is essential for your breast milk supply. If you struggle drinking enough water, try herbal teas, bone broth, coconut water, and fresh vegetable juices.
Don’t cut calories - Eating less will not benefit you or your baby. With the rise in hormonal fluctuations postpartum, depriving your body of essential nutrients can be incredibly disruptive for your hormones - and it’ll likely set you up for postnatal depletion. It’s recommended to consume an extra 500 calories of nutrient dense foods while breastfeeding, so don’t sleep on nourishing your body!
A/C/E - Vitamin A, C and E are all super beneficial for supporting women postpartum. Vitamin C supports the production of collagen and encourages skin elasticity. Vitamin A and E help with wound healing and restoring the uterus and abdomen. In combination, these vitamins are vital for the production of high quality breast milk.
Vitamin A - beef liver, kale, eggs, carrots, dandelion, sweet potato, papaya, spinach
Vitamin C - kiwi, broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes, oranges, papaya, spinach
Vitamin E - avocado, sunflower seeds, spinach, swiss chard, almonds
Specific foods that increase breast milk production
Oats - One of the most powerful galactagogues! Oats are rich in iron and B vitamins, and they’re super easy to add to smoothies, cookies or baking.
Brewers yeast - Rich in B vitamins that boost energy levels and increase milk secretion.
Fennel seeds - Drinking fennel tea or cooking with this leafy green herb is said to enhance the production of breast milk. As a galactagogue, fennel contains plant compounds that mimic phytoestrogens which are responsible for the secretion of breast milk.
Apricots - Not only are they delicious, but they’re also rich in tryptophan which increases prolactin. Add chopped apricots to your smoothies, baking or trail mix.
Almonds - Rich in healthy fats, protein, calcium and vitamin E - almonds are a nutritional powerhouse for new mamas. They make a delicious addition to baking, lactation cookies or smoothies.
Alfalfa - This small but mighty herb is great for increasing breast milk production, while providing an incredible amount of vitamins and minerals. It’s particularly rich in vitamin K, which may support after-birth recovery.
Sunflower seeds - These seeds contain lecithin, a plant compound that increases the fluidity of breastmilk and prevents clogged ducts.
Blends to support breastfeeding
Our Mother’s Balance blend contains oat milk powder, alfalfa sprouts and other key herbs to support the production of breast milk. It also contains powerful adaptogenic herbs like Schisandra to mediate the stress response and balance the nervous system in the 4th trimester.
Our Collagen + Greens blend makes it easy for you to increase your intake of essential nutrients as a new mama. Packed full of vitamins and minerals with added collagen - so you can get your daily boost of nutrients while increasing your protein intake!
If you need some extra help, don't be shy! Reach out to our knowledgable team and we can point you in the right direction ✨
Check out our most recent blog post here to learn more about how you can support your hormones on the daily.