Breastfeeding is a blessing and a curse! Blessing in those moments when you are out and your baby just won’t stop crying. Whipping out the breast will almost always achieve immediate peace. Curse in those moments when you are standing in the supermarket line, and out of nowhere you start to leak like a cow from your swollen cantaloupes.
All of us new mamas know that breastfeeding is the most amazing thing you can do for your baby’s health - and there are benefits for us, too, like the uterus shrinking back to its original size, less risk of future breast cancer, and bringing all hormones back into balance. But breastfeeding can be hard work in those first few weeks when the latch isn’t excellent, the milk supply is either too much or too little, and you feel like it is just an endless parade of feeding and burping.
Even though it may feel like you don’t have time, hydrating is so important when breastfeeding. An average feed is about 100ml/ 3oz. Now think about how often you are feeding your baby! You are likely to lose 1 liter/ 33oz just from feeding. Plus, don’t forget your body needs its own water supply to feel alive and stay awake. You can easily be drinking 3 liter/ 100oz a day, and still wake up at night with your mouth as dry as a desert.
Here are my favorite 3 tips to staying hydrated:
1. Green smoothies
My favorite smoothies are great in any stage of your life, but especially when breast feeding. Most doctors will keep you on your pre-natal vitamins when breast feeding, so you can continue to get a flow of minerals and vitamins. You need these to fill your own storages back up, which the baby depleted while it was in the womb, and also to make the milk nutritious. Green smoothies are a godsend here, since they are rich in minerals and vitamins. Plus they are liquid to keep you hydrated, and they are great snacks when you have no time to cook meals. Take 30 minutes a week (or get someone else to help you with this) to prep smoothie bags for the whole week and put them in the freezer. You can grab these, add water into the blender, and in the worst case blend the smoothie with the baby in your arms.
Try these green smoothies:
I loved soups in my first months with Baby Zand. I would cook big batches - BIG batches - and freeze them in portions. Taking them out and heating them took no more than 5 minutes in the kitchen. And you can fill them with whatever you like. Throw in all your favorite veggies, beans or meat, and you have a full meal at any given point. I would often also heat them up to snack on. Some people love bone broth to get strength and vitality back after giving birth; this is very much in line with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Other people prefer chicken soup to benefit from the vitality from the chicken. I loved lentils, since they are packed with iron, which I lost a lot of at birth.
Try these soups:
3. Raspberry leaf tea
Raspberry leaf is a herb which is excellent for women’s hormones. It helps to balance us through our monthly periods, takes away migraines, and is a godsend for baby and milk making. You want to avoid it in the first trimester of pregnancy, but you can safely take it in the third trimester. It helps to get your uterus ready for giving birth and softens the cervix.
After birth, it tones your uterus, helping it to shrink back into shape. On top of that, raspberry leaf is full with minerals, which makes your breast milk very nutritious, and helps replenish your mineral storages the baby used up while growing inside you.
Raspberry leaf can be found in the bulk food and dried herb section of health food stores or you can order it online. It’s also the main component of breastfeeding teas. I prefer buying the dried herb in bulk though, as it is a much cheaper option.
Every day, I brew 1 liter of this and sip it throughout the day. The stronger it gets, the more rich in minerals it is.
Try this refreshing raspberry leaf ice tea:
Steeping time for tea: a few hours or overnight
Blending time: 2 minutes
Makes 2 cups (1 serving):
2 Tbsp raspberry leaves (optionally you can use Mother's Milk tea instead)
¾ cup frozen raspberries
Place the raspberry leaves in a big mug or teapot and top with 500ml / 2 cups of boiling water. Let steep, the longer the better. If you don't have any time, give it at least one hour, but better is overnight just out on the countertop.
Strain out the leaves, pour the tea in the blender, and add the frozen raspberries.
Blend for 1 minute until frothy.