Breastfeeding hunger is a real issue, and many mothers find themselves extremely frustrated because they are gaining weight and starving at the same time while breastfeeding. There are many factors that can cause constant hunger and weight gain while breastfeeding.
Losing the baby weight will undoubtedly feel impossible if you are starving and gaining weight at the same time. Breastfeeding mamas who find themselves constantly hungry, while also gaining weight are most likely experiencing some issues with blood sugar, a response to hormone levels – specifically prolactin, and a response to lack of sleep. All of these issues, combined with an increased need for nutrients make weight gain and hunger possible, even while breastfeeding.
Let’s dive into specifics on why this is happening, and some ways you can get a handle on the breastfeeding hunger, so you can lose weight, rather than gain weight.
The reasons you’re constantly hungry and gaining weight while breastfeeding:
Reason 1: Your blood sugar levels are on a rollercoaster while breastfeeding
Breastfeeding hunger comes with a lot of extra cravings for mainly sugar, but other foods as well. Postpartum cravings and hunger push moms to eat more carbohydrates and sweets, which has a dramatic affect on blood sugar. Breastfeeding hunger starts because breastfeeding moms do need more nutrients. Unfortunately, many nursing moms fill their hunger with high carb and high fat foods like fries, potato chips, cheeseburgers, nachos, bread and more. Even lactation snacks like brownies and cookies are high carb and high fat foods. These foods cause blood sugar to spike, then drop soon after. Without much fiber and protein for satiation (read below on the importance of fiber!), when blood sugar drops the hunger feeling comes back.
The problem with a dropping blood sugar is that your body doesn’t need more food, but it feels like it does. This leads to overeating, yet never feeling satisfied.
Milk Dust has a specific blend to balance blood sugar, which can really help combat the hunger breastfeeding mamas struggle with. In addition to the protein and nutrients, Milk Dust can be a huge help for hungry nursing mamas!
Reason 2: Your body is adjusting to new hormone levels with prolactin for lactation
Hormone levels change dramatically during lactation. Estrogen decreases and prolactin comes into play. While the lower estrogen usually helps with weight loss, sometimes your body may not react well to the prolactin. Hormones play a huge role in hunger and metabolism, so some nursing mamas experience an increased appetite with the hormonal changes.
Unfortunately, with the increased appetite, many of the not-so-healthy foods can increase estrogen levels. When estrogen increases, it can cause milk supply to drop, as well as increase fat storage. Estrogen is in charge of increasing fat stores for reproduction. While this is great for healthy ovulation and reproduction, it isn’t helpful when needing to lose weight. It can cause weight gain, even when breastfeeding.
Reason 3: Lack of sleep is increasing cortisol levels
Breastfeeding a newborn is stressful. Not sleeping more than a few hours is also stressful. This stress can cause an increase in cortisol levels for many mamas. Cortisol increases appetite, so the stress and lack of sleep for new mothers really creates a hunger problem for breastfeeding.
Many mamas turn to food when feeling tired, or just plain feel hungrier when not sleeping. Eating higher fiber foods with protein can really help decrease hunger. Try eating a whole head of broccoli. All the fiber will make you feel super full. Or eat 3 apples. There is only so much fiber your body will want to consume, and it will leave you feeling full for hours. The key is to manage your increased hunger with healthy food. Adding in the veggies and fruit will also add in nutrients, which is so important during lactation.
Reason 4: Increased nutrient needs aren’t being met
Breastfeeding mamas need more nutrients to support lactation. Because there is a higher demand, many mamas experience cravings, which can come as pure hunger. The body is technically hungry for nutrients, so often times it will signal for more food in order to get in more nutrients. Lactating mothers need more nutrients like protein, folate, vitamin B12 and even plain carbohydrates.
By adding in more fruits, veggies, beans, complex carbs like brown rice and lean proteins, you are providing more nutrients, which will help you feel more full. Milk Dust smoothies in particular are full of nutrients, which really help decrease hunger and fill in the nutrient gaps that can drive a constant feeling of hunger.
Reason 5: You’re body needs more fiber
Fiber is really filling. It bulks up in your stomach and intestines to literally make you feel full. One of the amazing things that happens when mamas follow our 10-day diet plan is that they feel super full. The hunger goes away, yet they actually lose weight feeling full. The key is your body is getting more fiber-rich foods, which are actually lower in calories.
Sometimes the simple reason for hunger is that there isn’t enough fiber in the diet. To make it even more simple, you need to eat some more fruits and veggies. That isn’t too hard to do if you add in a smoothie every day, or make sure you are eating fruits and/or veggies at every snack and meal. This will add in nutrients and fiber to your diet to really combat those hunger cravings.
Reason 6: You are more sedentary with a newborn baby
One of the reasons you may be gaining more weight while breastfeeding is purely the fact that a baby can limit your activity. There is a lot of time spent holding the baby, nursing the baby, rocking the baby and sitting with the baby. Normally, a new mother may have been working out, doing more cleaning, walking around more and just more active. By slowing down and caring for a newborn, you may be burning a lot less calories than expected. Especially during the first 6 weeks, when working out isn’t really an option. Muscle mass is also lost during this time, which slows your metabolism down.
Adding in walks with the baby in a wrap or carrier can really help increase activity closer to wear it was. Newborns and small babies tend to do really well being worn close to mama, which gives mama a chance to walk around and do things.
Overall, nourishing the breastfeeding mama with nutrient-dense and high-fiber foods can really help reduce hunger and stop weight gain. Our Milk Dust protein powder is a great tool to help new mamas do this. The smoothies are an easy, one-handed way to get in fruits and veggies, with protein and nutrients that tastes amazing!
This post is for all the pumping mamas wondering how to increase milk supply for pumping. We’ve discussed, asked and consulted our lactation consultant to put together 8 simple steps for increasing your milk supply for pumping. There are 8 keys to unlock more milk supply while you are pumping.
8 Key Steps To Increase Milk Supply for Pumping:
Empty breasts more often
Check flange size and fit
Check pump function
Nightly Pump Sessions
Early Morning Pump Sessions
Single-sided pumping while nursing one side
Milk boosters and diet
Empty breasts often when increasing milk supply for pumping:
The secret code to more milk supply is to empty your breasts more. If you want your body to make more milk, you need your body to think there is more of a demand. You can do this by trying to get your baby to breastfeed more often, and adding more pumping sessions in between feedings. The best times to add in these pumping sessions is when baby usually takes a long nap, or is sleeping in the night. As babies get older, they tend to sleep longer through the night, which unfortunately is a great time to add a pumping session.
You can also empty your breasts with baby during a feeding, wait a bit, then empty them again to signal to your body that baby needs more milk.
Power pumping with a twist:
Power pumping is a great way to increase your milk supply for pumping. What moms forget is that baby’s connection to your breasts is a large part of supply and demand. So we suggest more than power pumping. We suggest power nursing and pumping together.
The key is to nurse baby first, wait about an hour, then pump as much milk as you can. From there, wait another hour or so and nurse baby again. By then, it’s been a couple hours since baby last fed, which means you may be able to get them to eat again. Then pump another hour after that feeding. Your body will be more connected to baby, and required to produce more milk.
While you are power pumping, be sure to drink a Milk Dust shake! Many mamas have experienced a dip in supply just from missing one smoothie in the morning. Add some oatmeal to your smoothie, and you will be able to help keep your milk supply up during these exhausting pumping and feeding sections.
No matter what stay positive. This can be discouraging at first, when the pumping isn’t producing many ounces. Your body will need some time to catch up, so power through it!
Check your pump flange fit:
This is one of those steps many moms think aren’t really that important. But, the fit and size of your flanges can make or break a few ounces. Medela has a great guide on how to get the fit of your flange just right. Here is a great video on that as well to guide you in this process.
Check your pump functions and suction:
It is always a good idea to check your pump function and suction when you are trying to increase milk supply while pumping. If you’ve been using your pump for a while, it could be losing suction. If you notice a drop in your milk supply, and you haven’t changed anything, maybe your pump isn’t sucking well. Here is a guide on how to trouble shoot your pump.
If you aren’t getting the milk supply you want, definitely check into your suction on your pump. Sometimes just switching to a manual pump can help you see if your electric pump isn’t working well. Many moms love the Haakaa pump as an alternative to their electric pump. This one also works well while nursing baby on one side, and pumping milk on the other.
Nightly pump sessions to increase milk supply:
Pumping moms NEVER want to hear how powerful the nightly pump sessions can be for increasing milk supply. No one wants to finally fall asleep, or get their baby to sleep, then wake up in a couple hours just to pump. But, as baby learns to sleep longer, sometimes 4 hours at a time, your body may still be ready to feed the baby in a couple hours. Taking advantage of those moments, when baby is sleeping longer than normal, can really help with getting more milk. Hopefully it doesn’t have to happen nightly for weeks, but hopefully it will be a few nights in a row to get your supply up.
Early morning pump sessions (before baby feeds):
Pumping before baby has their early morning feeding is another key to increasing milk supply. Sometimes this will work without having to do the nightly sessions, depending on how much you need to increase your supply. Let’s say you pump at 2am, and baby usually wakes at 6am. Getting a pump session in at 5:30am, will be super helpful. Your body will be getting ready to provide milk for baby, and then that milk will get pumped into the bottles. Then, your body will still need to feed baby after, which it will. This encourages the extra production, without having to pump tiny amounts at a time.
Single-sided pump and nursing sessions:
One trick to pump more milk is to pump one side, while baby nurses the other. While breastfeeding the baby on one side, the other side will let down. Catching that milk, and stimulating that side as well can really increase the amount you pump. Baby will still need to nurse on that side, which will help stimulate more milk production. Alternate sides with this method to keep it even, and you may find it really helps a lot.
Milk supply boosters and nutrition:
Many mamas don’t realize that just adding a lactation supplement of some kind can make a huge difference. Supporting your body from the inside out is actually really important. Our Milk Dust protein powder, and Milk Dust Bars are really yummy options to add to your diet.
The Milk Dust shakes are either smoothies or just blended with water. They offer hand-picked nutrients for breastfeeding mamas that support lactation and postpartum hormonal balance. Providing your body with key nutrients can dramatically change the amount of milk you are able to store!
Milk Dust is particularly effective for breastfeeding and pumping mamas because it targets nutritional needs as well as offering a unique lactation blend. There are very few products on the market that do this, and we are very proud of our formula.
We offer a great bundle, the Milk Dust Starter Pack, where you get a sample pack and 4 bars to see how they work for you.
Here’s what one mama on Amazon said after using Milk Dust,
My son almost 3 months old, with milk dust, I’ve been able to build up a healthy freezer stash for us as well as donate over 1000oz to other moms and their babies.
I have a milk dust smoothie for breakfast or after a workout. I’m 3 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight. The flavor is great, it mixes well into all my favorite smoothies. I could not ask for a better product! – Trisha Byrd
Hydration can actually make a big difference when trying to increase your milk supply while pumping. Think of breast milk as a liquid, and our body needs extra liquid to produce more liquid. Water is really important, but also low-sugar drinks with electrolytes can be very beneficial. The added sodium, potassium and magnesium these drinks offer can help balance fluid levels. Many mamas find that natural drinks like coconut water, or powerade make a difference within an hour or so. This is because fluid levels are balanced, and our body is well hydrated to produce more milk.
The 8 key steps to increase milk supply for pumping are gathered from pumping mamas and professionals. These are the top 8 steps that have worked for many other mamas.
Lactation cookies are one of the most popular foods for breastfeeding mamas to eat when wanting to increase milk supply. Lactation cookies taste amazing, satisfy sugar cravings, and ultimately give you a huge boost in milk supply. But many mamas become dependent on eating lots of lactation cookies to keep their supply where they want it, and it isn’t the healthiest way to go.
Do lactation cookies really work?
The short answer is yes, lactation cookies can really work, according to anecdotal studies. There haven’t been in-depth, scientific studies to prove an actual increase in milk supply. But overall, women report an increase in milk supply with these lactation cookies. Many of them have brewer’s yeast, oatmeal, flaxseed, fenugreek or other galactagogues that increase milk supply. The key is to find the right ingredients for your body. Everyone responds individually to ingredients.
Why do lactation cookies work so well?
Lactation cookies are full of a few ingredients that a breastfeeding mamas’ brain and body loves. The first ingredient is of course SUGAR! Sugar, or glucose is the brain’s first choice for energy. When a brain is tired, it craves more sugar to function. Lactation cookies offer a tasty way to get that glucose to the brain! In addition to sugar, lactation cookies also offer a lot of energy. Basically, they are high in calories. All of those calories make it easy for your body to produce breast milk without having to tap into the extra fat stores. Specifically, the calories are coming from fat (butter mainly in many recipes), and carbohydrates. Your body is getting plenty of carbs to function on NOW, and plenty of fat to save for later.
The additional herbs and ingredients for milk supply really help lactation cookies give your milk supply a kick! Many recipes and packaged cookies contain oatmeal, brewer’s yeast, fenugreek, fennel seed, milk thistle and other ingredients known to help with lactation. Many of these ingredients have been used for years to help lactating women, and fenugreek is one of the few that has been in studies, and shown to increase milk supply.
Lactation cookies are also super easy to pack on the go. This makes for an easy, sweet treat while mamas are buys, but still need to keep up milk supply. Lactation cookies don’t take long to mix and bake, and many of them can be stored in the freezer, making it super convenient for new moms.
Do lactation cookies without brewer’s yeast work?
You can absolutely find success with lactation cookies that omit brewer’s yeast. The key is that they offer other ingredients to still provide the same boost. There are many other ingredients that do this. We actually have a variety of them in our Milk Dust Bars, to help ensure that many mamas experience an increase in milk supply. We derive the yeast benefits from a nutritional yeast, so that it is actually gluten free in our blend. Many lactation cookie recipes don’t have this, and so they use oatmeal, flaxseed, fennel or fenugreek as alternatives to brewer’s yeast. Look for these ingredients in a lactation cookie recipe without brewer’s yeast, so you can ensure there are components that will help you milk supply.
Why may lactation cookies not be a good idea?
Lactation cookies do not offer breastfeeding mamas the nutrients they need to fully support hormone and weight balance. Despite being delicious and tasty, lactation cookies aren’t providing protein, vitamins, minerals or antioxidants – which are arguably more important than the lactation herbs and ingredients.
The postpartum mama still has an increased need for nutrition. There are many nutrient deficiencies that pop up after birth during the postnatal period, which is where the term postnatal depletion comes from.
Science-based Medicine goes so far to say that lactation cookies probably won’t increase your milk supply. If you read the article, they go over the disappointment in the nutritional profile of the standard packaged lactation cookie.
Relying on lactation cookies causes a cycle of needing sugar and carbs to supplement the lack of nutrients. The cookies are taking the place of the much needed nutrition, and play a role in the endless cycle of sugar cravings while breastfeeding.
As we learn more about postpartum health, brands like Milk Dust are developing alternatives to the standard lactation cookies. These alternatives, and healthier recipes are providing breastfeeding mamas with more nutrition, less sugar, and still a milk boost.
Milk Dust Bars are especially unique in that they help combat the sugar-craving cycle that many breastfeeding mamas find themselves stuck in. Extra minerals like Chromium and Magnesium are added to help combat blood sugar issues. Turmeric and cinnamon bark have also been show to help balance blood sugar – especially in diabetes.
Combine these hand-picked nutrients with the amazing protein count and low sugar count, and you have a wonderful snack option for mamas on the go. Not to mention they taste amazing! Sweet, like a candy bar, and some say even better than a lactation cookie!
Our Milk Dust Bars also have a unique lactation blend consisting of more than just one ingredient. We use a combination of lactation-supporting ingredients such as fenugreek, fennel seed, milk thistle, red raspberry leaf, turmeric and brewer’s yeast. By combining all these ingredients to work together, the effects of just one in high doses is reduced. A very small percentage of women have adverse reactions to fenugreek, but most have amazing results. Still, our blend has a small amount of fenugreek, supported by the other ingredients to make a more friendly, yet powerful blend.
The Milk Dust Bars are powerful alternatives to the standard lactation cookie. There are also more recipes that are paleo, low-carb or just healthier. Do your best to find a lactation cookie recipe that is low in sugar and fat, and high in nutrients. Adding blueberries to cookies, switching to dark chocolate and using a sugar substitute are great places to start.
We also have some healthier cookie and brownie recipes you may fall in love with!
Postpartum cravings are just another issue that can be surprising for new mamas. The most common postpartum craving is sugar, followed by other food cravings that can make dieting and weight loss feel impossible. Postpartum cravings are very normal, but many mamas find themselves wondering why they are experiencing these cravings, and what to do about them.
Why do postpartum mamas get cravings?
There are many changes happening postpartum -physical, mental and emotional .These changes can be a driving factor behind cravings. One of the major forces behind these cravings are hormonal changes.
Hormonal changes and cravings postpartum:
After birth, there are a flood of chemicals and hormones that surge through a new mama’s body. Specifically, estrogen drops very low and prolactin rises. This is the lactation chemical that helps you produce your breast milk. Oxytocin comes into play, and other pheramones with a new baby. Additionally, days and weeks after birth, hormones and chemicals are still changing! Our bodies can react to these changes by signalling appetite or cravings. Many women experience monthly cravings with their cycle, and this issue is just replicated postpartum. The rise and drop in hormones can cause changes in appetite and cravings that will take some time to adjust.
Exhaustion and fatigue increase the need for carbohydrates:
One of the major reasons postpartum moms struggle with cravings is severe fatigue. When our brains are functioning on little sleep for many days, it needs more energy to function. The brain prefers to function on carbohydrates, and it knows that sugar is the fastest way to get energy to the brain. There’s really no way around the lack of sleep. Sleep and newborns just don’t go together, so there isn’t a way to magically get more sleep. But, there are healthy carbohydrate sources tired moms can eat to help get their brain the glucose it needs to function.
Stress and depression can increase cravings:
New mamas are under an immense amount of stress once baby arrives, and many times stress can cause mindless munching and cravings. Stress also raises cortisol levels, which can increase cravings for sugar and carbs. The surge in hormones after birth, followed by a drop in hormones can cause increased depression in postpartum moms too. Depression and stress often lead to food cravings as a coping mechanism.
Of course there are many various factors for individual moms that cause food cravings. Sometimes bad habits from pregnancy just continue over to postpartum.
Why am I addicted to sugar postpartum?
Sugar cravings postpartum, in particular are a result of more specific nutrient deficiencies, lack of sleep, and energy needs for breastfeeding. Glucose the the first choice of fuel for our bodies, so often times the sugar cravings are really just your body’s signal for more nutrients and energy. There is a choice once these needs are signaled. Choosing chocolate over an apple are two very different sources of glucose. Getting into the habit of eating chocolate just tells your brain that’s what is available, so that’s what to crave.
Increased nutrient needs often result in more sugar cravings:
There is an increased need postpartum and breastfeeding. We have a free ebook going over all the specific nutrients postpartum moms need more of. There is a higher demand on your body when healing after birth and breastfeeding, which means your body requires more nutrients. When there is a lack of nutrients from the diet, the body will signal for more food, which is often confused as sugar cravings. Milk Dust is specifically formulated to target these nutrient deficiencies, as well as supply postpartum mamas specific nutrients proven to reduce sugar cravings. These include cinnamon bark, chromium, magnesium and cinnamon bark. Adding in the extra nutrients can really help with feeling satisfied and reducing sugar cravings. There was an observational study recently conducted on the dietary habits of women during pregnancy and postpartum. In that study, they mention the importance of diet both prenatal and postnatal:
Following pregnancy, optimal dietary intake during postpartum continues to be important to support the additional nutrient requirements for breastfeeding (5), as well as to reduce postpartum weight retention. Postpregnancy weight retention between pregnancies has been associated with short- and long-term maternal and child health risks, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes in women with previous gestational diabetes (6, 7), stillbirth, and large-for-gestational-age infants in subsequent pregnancies (8). Maternal diet quality during pregnancy and lactation is inversely associated with infant relative weight and fat mass in early life (9), hence the importance for mothers to maintain healthy dietary behaviors both during and after pregnancy. (source)
Fatigue and stress are common triggers for sugar cravings:
Postpartum moms are stressed and tired. There is no arguing that the stress and fatigue is gonna stay a while. Coffee is one way to combat the fatigue, but adding in foods and minerals to boost energy can be super helpful. Milk Dust has folate and vitamin b12 to help with energy, without using caffeine. Sometimes low iron levels can add to the exhaustion, which is where folate and vitamin V12 can really help.
Increased energy needs for breastfeeding result in sugar cravings:
Our bodies prefer glucose as the energy source. A tired brain needs more glucose to get through the day, so there will be more cravings throughout the day for sugar. Many mamas choose quick and easy snacks that are full of sugar, and immediately feel better. But, these snacks are low in nutrients, which brings us back to the nutrient deficiencies that will continue the cravings. Milk Dust Bars are an amazing, fast source of carbohydrates, nutrients, protein and lactation herbs to really help combat these cravings.
What food cravings postpartum really mean?
Simply, postpartum cravings just mean our bodies need something. That could be sleep, energy or nutrients. Cravings often mean that our bides are going through changes, adjusting to different hormone levels, and working hard to recover from a traumatic event (birth). Cravings are the body’s way of saying it needs more of something, but the brain is often conditioned to want sugar (a fast and easy source of glucose), so that’s what it will interpret the cravings for. Sometimes postpartum mamas are under-eating too, based of being incredibly busy. Sometimes the food and sugar cravings come from literally needing more food.
Simple steps to manage and reduce those postpartum food and sugar cravings
There are some super simple steps you can take to reduce the sugar and food cravings.
Eat fruit rather than processed snacks and foods. Fruit is a fast and healthy source of glucose for your brain
Eat protein to increase satiety (feeling full), which can really reduce cravings. Milk Dust protein shakes are amazing for this because you can add fruit with your shakes, and they taste amazing! You get a treat and protein at the same time!
Drink more water to fill your stomach and reduce headaches
Focus on nutrient-dense foods that are easy like oatmeal, sweet potatoes and bananas. These have sugar and glucose, while also offering a lot of nutrients.
Fill up on veggies for more fiber. Fiber can really fill up your stomach, so more food doesn’t sound good. Use veggies as a tool to feel super full, which will help your body stop cravings.
Keep processed foods (bread, chips, crackers, tortillas) to a minimum. These increase your blood sugar, and don’t leave you feeling full at all.
If you are struggling with cravings postpartum, try out milk supply starter pack to see if our products can help you! We have over 1,000 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon!