Breastfeeding provides a number of health benefits for mum and baby but one key bonus is that it burns extra calories. How many? Well roughly (dependent on your baby and feeding patterns) 300-450 additional calories per day. Sweet.
It's true this additional calorie burn can help you shift some of that pregnancy fat gain (in fact it’s the main reason you gain some of the fat in the first place). However, the main priority should generally be fuelling the growth of your baby, so staying on top of your calories is important and extreme post-natal dieting should be avoided. Starve yourself and you won’t be able to adequately sustain yourself and your child. A healthy approach to food can help bridge the gap between a post-natal ‘diet’ and having enough energy for you both (See post How To Avoid That Post Natal 'Diet').
A common breastfeeding issue is lower milk supply in the evening when your body is tired and if you can't adequately feed your baby at night, they’re more likely to wake. The result? Less sleep for everyone. Far from ideal.
My midwife informed me a good way to increase evening milk supply is to have a mid-afternoon snack (evening milk is made in the afternoon) to ensure you have additional calories and nutrients on board.
Not someone to pass up the opportunity to eat, I’ve taken the requirement for an afternoon snack very seriously. So if you're up for an excuse to snack see below my favourite, easy prep, nutritionally balanced snacks below (I was going to calculate macros for each but, for breastfeeding purposes, it's really dependent on how hungry you are at the time of the snack):
Boiled eggs and fruit.
Greek yogurt with berries & seeds.
Overnight oats with protein powder and nut butter.
Carrots sticks and hummus.
Protein shake (you can get creative with these, personal fave is - chocolate protein, banana, frozen berries, spinach, and UP Chocotrients (absolute game-changer for chocaholics).
Cold meat and tomatoes (other veg is available, tomatoes are an easy option).
Smoked mackerel and cherry tomatoes (social distancing may be necessary)!
Dried fruit and nut mix.
Cereal and milk (try to opt for natural cereals over Coco Pops).
Protein bar (my preference is always chocolate and generally Grenade, Barbells, or Fulfill Bars).
Afternoon snacks may also include cake (needs must) and chocolate (obviously enjoyed as part of a balanced and healthy diet). Just make sure you are getting some of the good stuff in during the rest of the day if that’s your snack of choice.