Breast Milk is Best: For Baby and For Mom


New parents have so many choices to make that it can feel extremely overwhelming.  From where to go for prenatal care, to the decision of whether or not to vaccinate, the parental choices are endless. In addition to these pressures, our society seems to expect us to become instant parenting experts the second we get a positive pregnancy test. But the reality is; it takes time to acquire the skills we need to evolve into fantastic parents. We don’t expect students to become an expert in their field the first day that they attend class, so why should we expect the same of new parents?

Choosing to breastfeed is the best gift you can give to your baby

While so many other choices may have benefits and drawbacks, breast feeding is the one gift you can give your baby that can only offer advantages. Breast milk contains the perfect ratio of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that your baby needs. The nutrient makeup of even the best commercially sold formula cannot replace all of the goodness of breast milk.

In addition to proper nutrition, breast milk provides your baby with Immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antibody which is not available anywhere else. Having access to IgA will help to support your baby’s immune system for a lifetime.

Breast feeding is best for babies, but can be very rewarding for moms as well. Many mothers find they enjoy bonding with their baby while breast feeding. In addition to this, it is commonly believed that breast feeding can help new mothers to lose their “baby” weight.

Breast feeding isn’t easy for new families. It takes time and commitment. Luckily, there are many things you can do to enhance your breastfeeding experience:

Make sure you are getting plenty of water

While breastfeeding, it is important to increase your water consumption by 1 quart each day.  Ideally, nursing moms should be drinking their body weight divided by half, in ounces, plus one extra quart. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces +32 ounces of water each day. This would total approximately, 107 ounces. The volume of your breast milk can be reduced dramatically if you are not staying properly hydrated.

Try beginning your day by drinking a quart of water. Then have a pint of water each time you nurse. If it is easier for you, try keeping a reusable bottle full of water next to your favorite nursing spot so that you can drink it while you are nursing. Don’t forget to drink water whenever you feel thirsty throughout the day.

Make eating well a priority

Eating a well balanced diet with plenty of nutrients and calories is vital to keeping your breast milk flow going strong. Breast feeding moms need to increase their pre-baby daily caloric intake by 500 calories in order to make sure they are getting proper nutrition. If you normally consume a 2000 calorie diet each day, try to push it up to 2500 calories. Your body will rob your own nutrient stores in order to feed your baby, so it is absolutely necessary to make sure you are getting good nutrition while breast feeding.

Many moms may be tempted by eating sweets to increase their calories, but try to make your calories count by eating healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, grains, nuts, and seeds. Try to eat 5 meals each day to keep your energy up.

A great snack for a nursing mommy might be apple slices topped with nut butter, and a glass of your favorite nut milk. You may also try some yummy raw bars that are high in protein. If you have time, make a fruity green smoothie to drink throughout the course of your day.

Adding coconut oil to your diet may help to improve the nutritional quality of your breast milk. Coconut oil contains medium chain fats, which are essential for babies. Coconut oil may help with your baby’s nutrient absorption and digestive function. Coconut oil also offers microbial protection for your baby. In fact, coconut oil is added to commercially sold infant formulas for these reasons!

 Try adding coconut oil to your nut butters, smoothies, and other foods in order to get some of this “super food” into your diet.

It is also important that nursing moms continue to take the prenatal vitamins that were recommended by their healthcare practitioner while they were pregnant. This will help to ensure you are getting all of the vitamins and minerals that you need.

Give an herbal tea a try

Dr. James Hermes, an Oregon licensed Naturopathic Physician, suggests drinking 4 cups per day of “Organic Mother’s Milk Tea” by Traditional Medicinals. ( He explains, “Mother’s milk tea contains many herbs including fenugreek. Fenugreek acts as a galactagogue, which encourages the increase of milk production and flow.”

Support is available

Fortunately, there are plenty of support options available for new families when it comes to breast feeding. Le Leche League International is a non-profit organization that offers group sessions, as well as individual breastfeeding support. Find your local Le Leche League chapter by visiting:

Another excellent option is to work one-on-one with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). If you are having a breastfeeding issue, whether it be reduced milk production or pain while nursing, it is essential to determine whether it is a physiological problem, or if it can be improved through nutrition and proper hydration. A lactation consultant can help you with this.

Lactation consultants are professionals who have years of formal training in breastfeeding problems and support. Many insurance companies will pay for visits with an IBCLC. Find an IBCLC in your area by visiting the International Lactation Consultant Association website:

In addition to these resources, there may be breast feeding classes available at your local birth center, hospital, or WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) office. Ask your midwife or doctor if they can recommend a breast feeding class near you. You can also contact your local WIC office to inquire about what support they have to offer. Find your local WIC office here:

If you are having a hard time with breast feeding, please remember you are not alone. Nursing your baby can be very difficult in the beginning, especially if you work outside the home, or have little family support. Just remember that breast feeding is the absolute best thing you could ever do to help your baby to be healthy for a lifetime. Please see your midwife or physician and seek support from qualified professionals before giving up. You will be glad you did!

Written by Angela Coate-Hermes
Copyright 2010

These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. The preceding information and/or products are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using this information or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.