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Published on July 09, 2018

quinoa salad with avocado and black beans

Best Eating for Breastfeeding Moms

New moms realize that they’re eating for two, but when they consider the complexity of information about food that’s out there, it can be a swirl of stats, suggestions and misconceptions that can lead to confusion.

Avera Midwives take pride is swatting down the myths and misleading claims out there in the world of food for women who are beginning to breastfeed. They point to two great places to start.

“Your diet should focus on eating better for you, and for baby. I think the most important thing is hydration and as many whole foods including fruits, vegetables and protein as you can,” said Avera midwife Lisa Van Gerpen, CNM, MSN.

Avoid overly processed foods, and carefully review food labels. Another idea is to not overdo the idea of “more is better.”

“During both pregnancy and breastfeeding, moms often make the mistake of thinking they need a lot of extra calories. Yet 300 to 500 more each day isn't really that much, said Avera midwife Audra De Groot, CNM, MSN. “What’s more important than extra calories is that moms get the nutrients that they and their babies need the most. That’s why we point to the super foods for moms as a good foundation.”

Any mom with questions can get help from Avera’s midwives. They also credit their ally in all things nutrition, Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Kristin Sousek, RD, LN.

Here’s a look at the trio’s top food picks for redesigning your diet for baby and breastfeeding

Super Foods For Breastfeeding Moms

Oatmeal: This hunger-satisfying food is loaded with lactogenic properties and offers plenty of iron and fiber. Go with steel-cut oats or “old fashioned” varieties that take a bit longer to cook, but pack more nutrients.

Yogurt: With plenty of protein and calcium, this easy-to-eat food is a good breakfast go-to, and in addition, it’ll offer probiotics your digestive system can use to help you be healthy.

Avocado: With its rich texture and easy use in many dishes, it’s no surprise this super-food is on almost all health-focused folks’ list of must-eat foods. It offers fiber, healthy fats good for your heart and is also an antioxidant-filled choice. Oh and don’t forget: you’ll get more potassium from an avocado than a banana.

Quinoa: Hard to say, but easy to enjoy in a wide range of dishes, where it brings pure protein and lots of good fiber to the plate. Since it’s a low-glycemic grain, you’ll feel fuller longer, and it’s also gluten-free.

Beans and legumes: Babies won’t burp more if you eat plenty of fiber-full beans. Try them in place of fattier meats and enjoy the protein that comes with this super-food.

Salmon: Naturally low in fat, but high in heart-healthy omega 3 fats, this is the fish for you if you’re looking for a protein that is also nutrient rich – it has tons of vitamins, especially vitamin D.

Lean red meats: The iron found in lean red meat is easily absorbed and of course, it’s a great source of protein. You’ll also find lots of niacin, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12 in this recommended-for-mom choice.

Leafy greens: You’ll rarely go wrong with spinach and other greens, since they are chockful of iron, vitamins A and K+, as well as antioxidants. Plus their fiber counts are also off the charts.

Eggs: Boost protein with the simple and satisfying egg, which is another good way to get healthier fats in your diet, all while adding folic acid and vitamins B6, B12 and A.

Apricots: Skip the sugary snacks and have this instead, and when you do you’ll add a source of prolactin producing nutrients as well as a digestion aid. Easy to grab-and-go, too.

Strawberry Banana Lactation Smoothie


  • 1 cup calcium-fortified milk (you can use coconut, almond or soy milk instead)
  • 1 handful strawberries, stems removed
  • 1 banana
  • 1 handful fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • Ice as needed


  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender, using pulses to make a consistent smoothie.
  2. Use “store-bought” ice for best results – ice-cube tray cubes can damage some blenders.

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Black Beans


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup fresh, frozen or canned corn (drain canned corn if using)
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon salt to taste


  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions; set aside and let cool.
  2. Whisk olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper together.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine quinoa, corn, avocado, tomatoes and black beans.
  4. Stir in lime-juice mixture gently.
  5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to serving for best results.

Mama Trail Mix


  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup freeze-dried raspberries
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Stir until combined; store in an airtight container.

Note: Makes a great snack as-is, or as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt.

Lactation Energy Bites


  • 2 cups rolled oatmeal
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¾ cup ground flaxseed
  • ⅔ cup raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. In a large bowl, add all ingredients.
  2. Stir until very well combined.
  3. Using a small cookie dough scoop or your hands, roll into balls.
  4. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  5. Store in airtight container in the fridge after set.

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