Snacks, Breastfeeding and the Fourth Trimester with NZ Registered Nutritionist Chantal Cuthers
To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, we spoke with māmā and NZ Registered Nutritionist Chantal Cuthers, who is infamous for her ‘no BS but gentle approach’ to health and nutrition for all bodies, about what sorts of foods breastfeeding māmā should eat, to best support them on their breastfeeding journey.
With a keen interest in, and experience with all reproductive nutrition needs for folks from preconception through to infant solids Chantal uses evidence based nutritional science combined with a holistic view of her client’s needs, wants, and goals.
Any new māmā will know, that there is a lot of noise (and pressure) when it comes to breastfeeding. And while we all want to do what’s best for our pēpi, it’s undeniable that breastfeeding can be hard; Hard to learn, hard on our bodies, and hard to sustain.
Ensuring māmā are fuelling their bodies with the right kai / food, is incredibly important for any breastfeeding journey. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, food plays a huge role in how we care for ourselves. Chantal explains that ‘milk supply relies heavily on food and nutrient intake in total. Low calorie intake and restriction lowers supply, so rather than focusing on single ingredients or breastfeeding support foods to start, we need to ensure māmā and feeding parents are getting frequent and regular meals and snacks alongside fluids.’
She goes on to add ‘I would love all my parents to be well fed, well nourished and well taken care of during that fourth trimester. When sleep is not guaranteed this has to be from food so start with meals and snacks you really enjoy, and build from there.’
While it’s easy to share a list of ideal whole foods and complex recipes, Chantal being a mum herself is well aware of the challenges of being a new māmā – including finding time to look after ourselves, shower, change out of our PJ’s!
Instead, she leans into the idea of asking our village to support us ‘if you have support from outside the home, don’t be afraid to ask for meal drop-offs or coffee and snack deliveries on cold mornings.’
She encourages hapū māmā to fill their freezer before baby arrives (if you can) with meals that you can easily heat and eat – like lasagne, spag bol, or a vegetarian dahl which ‘will take pressure off having to spend time in the kitchen while you might be under your sleeping pēpi.’
Now is also the time to turn into a snack queen. Chantal encourages frequent snacking! Think cereal and yoghurt, avocado on toast, boiled eggs and vegetable sticks with hummus, sushi and a milky coffee, mini snack platters with crackers, cheese, olives, fruit and veg, plus plenty of fluids.
The main takeaway here is to ‘focus on real foods rather than any kind of meal replacements or over supplementing, including a wide variety of foods and including foods that bring you joy is important. When it comes to alcohol intake, we like to use the reminder that if you’re safe enough to drive, you’re safe enough to feed.’
When asked about lactation support foods, Chantal suggests that they can be a ‘lovely addition to meals and snacks throughout sleepy and slow days but they will not work to replace real food or boost milk supply that’s being affected by stress levels. If you don’t have an over-supply, can afford them and you enjoy the taste then adding in small amounts can help boost calorie and nutrient intake.’
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