Not all breast milk is created equal
Due to the fact that we’ve so often heard that “breast milk is best”, some are actually surprised to learn that the quality of a mother’s breast milk can vary depending on her diet.
A mother’s diet determines the amount and kinds of fat in her milk. Babies need fat. It is essential for growth, especially for the development of the nervous system and of the brain, which is 60% fat. As Kerstin Peterson explains in her article on top-quality breast milk: “A 1999 study in the scientific journal Lipids showed that breast milk could have a very wide range of fat content. Depending on their mothers’ diet, some babies get 2% milk, and others get up to 9%, the equivalent of table cream. Which babies are getting better nutrition? Lactating women on high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets have been found to experience a decrease in their milk fat levels, which is associated with infant neurological problems and failure to thrive.”
Here is the diet the Weston A. Price Foundation recommends for pregnant and nursing mothers
- Cod Liver Oil to supply 20,000 IU vitamin A and 2000 IU vitamin D per day. Read about why Nourishing Our Children recommends fermented cod liver oil.
- 1 quart (or 32 ounces) whole milk daily, preferably raw and from pasture-fed cows. Learn more about raw milk
- 4 tablespoons butter daily, preferably from pasture-fed cows. See our complete list of recommended traditional fats
- 2 or more eggs daily, preferably from pastured chickens [and preferably soy free]
- Additional egg yolks daily, added to smoothies, salad dressings, scrambled eggs, etc.
- 3-4 ounces fresh liver, once or twice per week. If you have been told to avoid liver for fear of getting “too much Vitamin A,” be sure to read Vitamin A Saga.
- Fresh seafood, 2-4 times per week, particularly wild salmon, shellfish and fish eggs
- Fresh beef or lamb daily, always consumed with the fat – preferably 100% grass-fed
- Oily fish or lard daily, for vitamin. For oily fish, Nourishing Our Children recommends Vital Choice’s sardines and mackerel and offers this recipe. Nourished Kitchen teaches how to render lard.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil daily, used in cooking or smoothies, etc.
- Lacto-fermented condiments and beverages – such as sauerkraut and beet kvass
- Bone broths used in soups, stews and sauces
- Soaked whole grains
- Fresh vegetables and fruits – preferably organic
- Trans fatty acids (e.g., hydrogenated oils) – these are in many of the industrially processed foods found in packages, cans and boxes, even if labeled 0% because of labeling laws*. As such, it is recommended that you stick with foods that have a single ingredient such as: apple. Trans fats can be cleared from a mother’s system in about two weeks if she avoids eating them and consumes traditional fats instead.
- Junk foods – perhaps the term is an oxymoron. “There is no junk food. There is junk and there is food.”
- Commercial fried foods
- White flour
- Soft drinks
- Drugs (even prescription drugs)
Nourishing Our Children adds:
- Avoid soy imitation foods such as soy hot dogs, soy milk, soy yogurt and the like.
- Also avoid vegetable oils such as canola, corn, soy and so forth.
The Weston A. Price Foundation publishes this warning with their recommendations, “Cod liver oil contains substantial levels of omega-3 EPA, which can cause numerous health problems, such as hemorrhaging during the birth process, if not balanced by arachidonic acid (ARA), an omega-6 fatty acid found in liver, egg yolks and meat fats. Please do not add cod liver oil to a diet that is deficient in these important animal foods. It is important to follow our diet for pregnant mothers in its entirety, not just selected parts of it.”
Have you followed these dietary recommendations while pregnant and/or breastfeeding? How have they served you?
*The FDA’s guidelines for trans fat labeling allows companies to list zero trans fats when there is actually as much as 500mg trans per serving. That could be a lot of trans fat to unwittingly eat, especially if that food is a frequent choice.