Pages

Friday, 23 November 2012

Mother Food

I learnt a new word this week.  Galactagogue.  I rather like it.  It means ‘leading to milk’ and comes from the ancient greek words, glacta (milk) and gogos (to lead).  This fascinating discovery came courtesy of a great book I have been reading; Mother Food - a book of wisdom for breastfeeding mothers.  This book is about the benefits of a lactogenic diet and how eating the right foods (galactagogues) can have a significant effect on the production of a mother’s milk and her health.

Books on such a subject aren’t normally ‘me’.  It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just that I find I’ll buy them and then never read them, despite my best intentions.  My journey to this book however, started with another.

A few weeks ago, I attended a second time mum’s group.  One of the other (very lovely) mums in the group had kindly bought along some books to share.  On the table was a book; ‘Contented Calf’ - Nourishing recipes for breast feeding mums.’



I picked it up and flicked through it.  In day to day life, it’s very rare that I cook anything from a recipe book these days (despite owning many), so the irony that as a breastfeeding mother of a newborn I would find time to explore a new recipe book was not lost on me.   As I continued to peruse the book with a wry smile, my mindset changed, I found myself drawn in, the premise of a lactogenic diet interested me, as did the idea of foods specifically to nourish breastfeeding mothers.  I recalled how, after breastfeeding Pip exclusively for a year, I felt physically depleted, despite eating a relatively ‘healthy’ diet. I recalled how, by the time he reached his first birthday, I felt and looked run down and was experiencing a number of health problems, particularly with my teeth and gums.  I felt drained, a husk of my former self.

And so it was, that I ended up bringing that cook book home and embarking on a marathon batch making exercise.  One of the key factors that inspired me was the fact that many of the recipes in the book were things I would normally cook; spaghetti bolognese, beef stew, chicken soup.  This meant that it didn’t feel hard work making and preparing them.  The ingredients were virtually the same anyway, with the addition of  a new item, such as a herb or vegetable, here or there.


The author of the 'Contented Calf' recipe book credited another book; 'Mother Food' with being a key source of inspiration and a font of information on the subject of a lactogenic diet. With my interest well and truly piqued, I decided to order a copy from Amazon.  For once in my life, the book arrived and didn’t sit on the shelf. I read it, and I really enjoyed it.



Mother Food is written in simple layman’s terms and easy to understand. I found the first two chapters on the history and origins of ‘Mother Food’ and the basics of a lactogenic diet particularly enjoyable.   There's some interesting advice in the section; ‘Keeping your health the best it can be’, on how to deal with sweet cravings and losing baby weight whilst breastfeeding as well as balancing the use of caffeine in the zombie period of those first few months. It also looks at how adjusting certain elements of a breastfeeding mother’s diet might help with colicky or particularly sensitive babies. 

What I particularly liked about this book is the author’s voice.  Whilst it is a pro-breastfeeding book, it doesn’t appear to be written by a breast feeding militant. It does not preach about how much ‘better’ it might be for a woman to breastfeed, but instead, is written from the viewpoint of a woman who recognises that breast feeding successfully can be a challenging journey for a mother; one that can require a lot of support and looks at a number of ways in which a woman can help herself on that journey.

Whilst I found the whole book interesting, the most useful sections are the later chapters of the book which discuss lactogenic foods. Some of these are also listed in the Contented Calf book too.  I thought I’d share some of the foods and suggested meals that I plan to try and include in my post-baby diet.

Porridge - Oats are heralded as very beneficial to breast feeding mothers.  A good bowl of porridge can set you up for the day; oats are well known for the benefit of slow releasing energy.  Dried fruit: figs, dates and apricots are also supposed to be particularly good for lactating mothers so I plan to add these to my porridge (or muesli), or eat them on their own as snacks.

Snacks - Houmous with pitta bread. Chickpeas are another superfood for breastfeeding mums. It’s easy to buy a pot of houmous and leave it in the fridge.  With some wholemeal bread or toast it’s a great, easy snack, or can be eaten as part of a bigger meal to make a more substantial lunch.  

Whole grain breads and crackers - Turkey, mozzarella and tomato, Houmous, carrot and sesame seed are just some of the recommended sandwich fillings in the recipe book. Particularly good to know with Christmas coming up and all that left over turkey to eat.

Nuts and Seeds - Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Almonds (the most lactogenic nut) Cashews, Pecans.  I'm not much of a seed person normally, but if I’m feeling up to it, I might try making Multilayer Mummy’s 'Tasty power energy snack,' easily made and stored in the fridge.  Bowls of nuts are always abundant in our house in the festive season, so this year I'm going to make sure we have almonds and cashews in ours.

Fresh Fruit and Berries - Apricots, Peaches, Nectarines, Plums are recommended. I plan to try and make some smoothies -  a great way of incorporating fruit into my diet easily.

Meat - Chicken, Turkey, Venison.  The author of Mother Food was a vegetarian for many years, and she does not make as many suggestions for red meat meal solutions as found in the ‘Contented Calf’.   However, from the ‘Contented Calf’ book, I’ve batch cooked some great beef recipes for the freezer.  These include:

Spaghetti Bolognese, Beef Lasagne, Beef & Venison Stew and also Chicken, Almond and Apricot Casserole and Fish Pie.


Vegetables - Dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, potato (sweet and normal) asparagus, green beans, peas, carrot.    Soups are a great and easy way of getting a good intake of vegetables, and don’t take long to make either. I’ve also experimented with a new recipe, Butternut squash and Kale Lasagne (again, from the Contended Calf) to go in the freezer.

There are lots more suggestions than the ones I’ve listed here, however these are things that I am most likely to eat and have therefore cooked.  I don’t for one moment expect that I’m  going to have time to recook these things in the first few months after baby arrives, but in the short term, having a well stocked freezer full of nutritious food will hopefully help.  


If this all looks a bit 'worthy', rest assured, I'm also planning to indulge in a good few slices of cake too; all new mums deserve some benefits.  Now all I have to hope is that EB is able to step up to my engorged ‘galacta-gogos’ without too many problems.  


*All opinions expressed here are my own. I am not trained to give nutritional advice. I was not sent these books to review, but merely wrote this post to share my interest.*

12 comments:

  1. Really informative! I wish I had stumbled across these reads before I started breastfeeding. As it was I batch cooked anyway - one of the favourites I still make is orange tarragon chicken casserole - but I have to say that almond and apricot chicken casserole sounds delicious - I'm also a bit naughty for adding sour cream to most of my stews! In those first few weeks, and recovering from a c-section, eating and finding time to eat was hard - so well done you for being well prepared. I hope you have another natural water birth again - You're practically at the finish line now. And I am a big porridge fan - it really does set you up for the day - I like to add all sorts of fruit! Great post, and galactagogue is a fab word! XXX.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't tried adding sour cream to a stew. Might try that, it sounds scrummy.
      Thanks for the well wishes for the birth. Am so hoping it can be in the water. Fingers crossed. x

      Delete
  2. Fortunately everything listed above I love. Its just to cooking is the problem, lol. Thanks for sharing, once again another outstanding helpful post :0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the cooking is the hard work bit! Thanks for reading and commenting. x

      Delete
  3. you won't be surprised to hear that apart from the beef thats how I eat anyway! Nuts, seeds, oats etc great stuff. My boobs are still full (not of milk anymore), no spaniels ears here! I do believe in diet but it has to be a way of life not a chore or I won't do it either. Mr J looked after me after TC was born, he was like a short order cook & even though he's a veggie he made me some lovely chicken casseroles. Yes go for the Marmite seedy balls! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ps would love some new (any!) followers on my nutritiousdeliciousness.blogspot.co.uk blog (spelt it right this time!) sorry blatant plug :))

      Delete
  4. Completely agree about it being a way of life and not a chore. Mr J sounds like a great man. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. he has his moments :) I looked after myself after my first born, he was always abroad working back then.

      Delete
  5. Oh I will be looking out for this. I have a B12 deficiency and I get so very tired that I think this book could be for me.. I also eat pretty healthy and I run which is something that i want to take back up after baby born. any more info on other foods that I haven't thought of would be of great benefit! I will be batch cooking and like you said its foods that you already make so there isn't much pressure to learning new recipes. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Glad it was of use. It seems incredibly organised to batch cook.. (something that I'm typically not) but the fact it will hopefully save my sanity later on has forced me to do it!

      Delete
  6. Ooh please share the chicken and almond and apricot casserole - if you have time before the big day. I think breastfeeding is wonderful but it is draining. The best advice I ever got was from a big African lady in a café who kept giving me extra helpings. She said 'if you're full, the baby will be full and then they will sleep.' I took her at her word and these recipes sound perfect. Am so happy for you, that you're nearly there, sounding relaxed and peaceful and content. PS Bags of chocolate raisins really helped too! XX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will do my best. Off to the shops now to try and walk this baby out! The advice you were given sounds spot on. I never understand why new mum's try to diet when breastfeeding. One year on...one year off is the best rule I've heard. Yum to chocolate raisins. Will put those on my shopping list xx

      Delete