Help/Input, please

Okay, friends, I officially need help. Despite the fact that I’ve been very obedient to the midwife, sitting and doing next to nothing, I am just 3 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight (please don’t hate me, in all seriousness. This fact is a necessary part of the problem).  If I wasn’t breastfeeding a baby, this would be AWESOME news, but I remember what happened last time with Gregory and I’m really worried. I even just had a bad dream during my nap about it!

This is happening faster than last time, which means that in just a few months I will, once again, be struggling with my milk supply. I love love love how chubby Anthony is looking, and I would hate for him to struggle with weight-gain issues like Gregory did. It breaks my heart and makes me tear up to think about going through that volatile emotional roller coaster again.

My mom and I just had a conversation about “hyper-thyroidism”, and, in her professional nursing opinion, she doesn’t think that’s the problem. I don’t really have any of the other symptoms (insomnia, personality change, jittery behavior). I can ask for them to draw my blood and test for it at my 6 week postpartum appt. (end of May), however, so I’m considering it (although it will be hundreds of $ out-of-pocket).

I’ve googled, “What to Eat While Breastfeeding”, with limited results. Mostly, this turns up articles on what NOT to eat while breastfeeding. My list of those is already long enough, thanks to the two lactation consultants I met with in the hospital.

No, I need to know what the foods with good fat and high calories are. I’m great at pigging out on junk food: icecream, shakes (A+W has this new one now!! YUM!), cookies (ate a pack of Golden Double Stuffed Oreos in 2 days), mac and cheese, and In-N-Out double doubles, but  the healthy stuff we eat is not very calorie or fat dense. The closest thing I have right now are the Odwalla and Naked Juice protein shakes that they sell at the grocery store– 400-700 calories per bottle, along with around 30g of protein! But they are around $2-3/each, so I need to find a cheaper alternative. Making shakes just takes so much clean up!

Also, the list of things I cannot eat, according to the lactation consultant, is kinda lengthy. No chocolate (I was actually eating a Twix bar when she told me this). No citrus or acidic fruits (hard to make/buy shakes that don’t have these). No beans or spicy food. No soda (I miss you, Diet Coke!). It’s not a bunch of hype, because ever since I stopped eating these things, Anthony’s tummy troubles have gotten much better. I had half a soda one night, and he was wriggling around with bad tummy gas for hours!

Also, I don’t feel particularly starving, which means that I need to set a timer and remind myself to eat. This probably has to do with all the bleeding (sigh, yes, still), which makes me nauseous and tired. But I am making sure to eat something iron-rich every day! And my mom is good at making me stuff (eggs, tuna or turkey melts) to eat when she’s home.

So, please, throw them at me— every good meal or snack recipe you’ve got (within the dietary restrictions, preferably!)! Any suggestions for middle-of-the-night-nursing snacks? Do I need to resort to eating liver/onions (the only helpful thing I found on the internet)? I think I’m going to go to the grocery store in the next day or two and just wander the aisles, buying anything that looks appetizing so that I have plenty of food on hand at all hours of the day.

Basically, I refuse to believe that this is “just how my body works”. I want to fight it, and I want to have a healthy milk supply for my baby. I just have no idea how to beat this!

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25 thoughts on “Help/Input, please

  1. ok I’ll bite. First, after hemoraghing myself, I bled like that till exactly six weeks…so, not that it will hang around that long for you…but don’t be surprised.

    That said, breastfeeding diet: carbs, carbs, carbs–not protein. Not, that protein is bad, but to keep the milk up, go with carbs; but you can go healthy with that. So, whole grains, TONS of oatmeal, Guinness (seriously, I experimented with other beers and Guinness was the best for production though Black Butte Porter was second best). You already know about brewers yeast and fennel and fenugreek. Other good foods are yams and barley. I would make up a pot of barley and just eat away at it (made it like oatmeal so milk and raisins for me, but you can do savory also). You can also make a barley water drink to sip away on. Chickpeas and lentils are also good for production. Healthy fats: coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, flax seed oil (cold pressed), avocados. For spices: garlic and tumeric also fennel or anise if you like. Now, I never tried these…but have seen tons of people online swear by them…http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/LACTATION-COOKIES-1252680 so, take that for what it’s worth… other than that, look up galactagogues and it will bring up a ton of stuff. Want me to send you my mix of mother’s milk and post partum teas?

    So..snacks or meals: hummus is a great snack, guacamole, oatmeal, cooked cold barley in a salad or with some fish for extra fat, a beer a day, whole wheat triskets or wheat thins for snacking, the cookies above for snacking, then sip away all day on mother’s milk tea and/or barley water and beer. On a side note, Mexican food worked wonders for me…rice and beans? HUGE production…but I see that’s on your no-go list.

    When pumping, I would do this and noticed that the day after eating food like this my production would jump up and after days I didn’t it would go down. Didn’t exactly help with losing weight…as evidenced…but, kept the milk up, which is a hard feat when pumping. Good luck!

  2. barley water:

    Quick-and-easy: 1/2 cup of flakes or pearled barley can be simmered in 1 quart of water for twenty minutes.

    Long-and-intensive: 1 cup of whole or pearled barley is simmered in 3 quarts of water for up to 2 hours. About half the liquid should cook off. Some recipes call for only 1/2 hour cooking time. However, the longer the barley simmers and the more pinkish (and slimier) the water becomes, the more of the ‘cream’ will enter the water and the stronger the medicinal effect will be.

    If the barley water becomes too thick to drink comfortably, add in more water.

    When finished, remove from the stove and sieve off the water. The grain is now tasteless and can be thrown out.

    Add 1 tablespoon of fennel powder or steep 2 – 3 teaspoons of fennel seeds for ten minutes in the barley-water before drinking.

    The traditional recipe calls for fennel seed but you can also use fenugreek seeds and honey to sweeten.

    • THANKS so much, Chels! This is EXACTLY the type of solid foodie advice that I need. Good to know about Guinness, I’ll have to go get some now 🙂 Where does one find barley, btw? I was thinking of trying our local New Frontiers store (which is like Whole Foods).

  3. Hey Kelly, so I didn’t have the keep-the-weight-ON problem after having kids, BUT my kids are both on restricted diets, and we recently found out Avery’s under-weight, so I do know a thing or two about healthy fats for kids… maybe some will work for you too?

    First, I’m in agreement with the first commenter on oatmeal. My kids eat it every morning (as it gets warmer you can put it all together in a bowl overnight, then it will be ‘cooked’ and cool in the morning for hot-day breakfast). So the key to oatmeal is to add 2 Tbsp of flaxseed meal to each serving. This is full of healthy fat and omega 3s and will blend right in. To make it beyond edible and enjoyable, I suggest adding frozen blueberries and 2 tsp of 100% maple syrup, OR frozen raspberries and 2 tsp 100% vanilla extract OR bananas and 1 Tbsp nut butter. Frozen berries are pretty cheap at Trader Joe’s.

    If you give me your email address, I can send you a couple of healthy muffin recipes, which are pretty awesome because G and Jesse will love them too and they’re a filling and tasty snack. Easy to grab on the go.

    I would also add avocado to everything, haha. My kids eat mashed avocado spread over whole wheat toast and it’s yummy 🙂 You can add a sprinkle of salt to it for more flavor.

    Whole Wheat english muffins with your nut butter of choice is another easy snack option.

    Trader Joe’s has a good multi-grain pancakde/waffle mix. You guys could whip those up together on weekend mornings and make extras to grab throughout the week.

    That’s all I have off the top of my head, but I agree that adding carbs is the way to go, and as long as you go the healthy-carb route you can feel good about putting all that extra into your body. (Obviously, continue eating protein and produce, but carbs will keep the weight on).

    If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know. Good luck! 🙂

  4. One last tip: Before putting out all the money for the hyper-thyroidism testing, I would schedule an appointment with a nutritionist. Your insurance MAY cover it, but even if they don’t it may be $90 and they specialize in working with people with restricted diets. You could bring in a list of what you need to avoid and they can work around that and give you advice and options. Your pediatrician or midwife may know of one in the area.

  5. I would up the fats and protein. I am surprised no one has mentioned meat, fish, eggs, butter, and yogurt. Have you heard of the Weston Price Foundation of Nourishing Traditions? Even if you don’t agree with their ideas, or find some of suggestions icky, it’s worth a look: http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/diet-for-pregnant-and-nursing-mothers

    For late night snacks I would eat whole grain crackers or cashews.

    Seeds are also good, especially raw pepitas (they have them at TJs), flax seeds, and hemp seeds.

    Also make sure you’re drinking lots of water. 🙂

    • Ah man! They mention liver!! Darn it 😉 Yes, I’m drinking an 8 oz. glass of water every time I nurse. That list looks great, although I’m not sure where to find half that stuff! Lacto-fermented veggies? Heard of them, but have no idea where to buy!

      • It’s something you have to make, so I wouldn’t worry about it right now. I’ve never done it. Mainly, I would think meat, eggs, whole dairy, butter, olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds would help. 🙂 Oh, and check out my Pinterest board called Breakfast for some yummy drink smoothies!

  6. hey! i had fish in there! =P hehe, but, yes to the flax meal added to the oatmeal that IS a great way. Flax seeds are nice and all but don’t get digested unless you grind them up. You can also add the ground flax to yogurt but…personally I didn’t like the texture. *shrug* You can get barley at the grocery store. Vons carries it here anyways. It is typically tucked away with the rice. Usually the store will have pearl barley which is what I used. It does take longer to cook than oatmeal and is a bit….heartier…and earthy in flavor but it does help a lot. =)

  7. hmm…if you are going the liver route, I hear soaking it in milk first helps it taste better and be more tender….good luck with that….

  8. Even though your mom is a nurse (and probably a wonderful one!) I still think it might be wise to get the test and know for sure of hyperthyroidism isn’t playing a role in your weight/milk supply issues. The only reason I say it is because I MYSELF have hypothyroidism, which was diagnosed by blood test, and I didn’t see any symptoms in myself, over than the 25 lbs I gained after James was born. It may be that like me, you have a mild case. Hopefully you don’t have to pay for it out of pocket, but even if you do, won’t it be worth it if you DO end up having it? And isn’t that the point of having extra money saved up, so that when you NEED to do something like this, you can? And again, the only reason I say it again, is that I have a metabolic disorder myself, and I wouldn’t have know that’s what it was if not for hte blood test. Honestly, I’ve never heard of anyone who has a normal metabolism and has your particular problem. 🙂

    That being said, coconut milk/oil EVERYTHING! It’s a saturated fat but it’s not an animal fat, so it’s supposed to be really healthy for you!

    • Becks,

      From her experience, she described it as thus: when you have hyperthyroidism, you can’t help but act like you are on speed. Several weight loss drugs on the market take people with normal metabolisms/bad eating habits and induce hyperthyroidism, turning them into jittery, ADD-like adults (sadly, we know a few). In contrast, she said, a sluggish thyroid disorder can often go undiagnosed for years, unfortunately for the patient.

      But, as you said, I don’t know anyone with a normal metabolism that lost all of their pregnancy weight in 2 weeks. For me, it could be something directly linked to pregnancy or breastfeeding since before I got pregnant with G, I couldn’t budge the scale one iota, up or down, no matter I did or ate. So this is really different for me!

      And I know for a fact that the blood test would be out of pocket. Medical only pays for things directly related to pregnancy– they didn’t pay for my sinus infection in November. The last blood test I had was $900 before insurance covered it (although they tested for a few things, not just one, so it’s not necessarily a reliable number), so even though we have cash reserves, I’m hoping I can avoid shelling out anything close! Hopefully, I’ll be able to enroll in our school’s insurance plan come August, and if it’s still a problem, I can get the number down to a more manageable sum.

      • Ok, since I’m a bossy pants and also a die-hard researcher, here’s a direct-to-consumer lab that will do a thyroid blood panel for only $85! All you do is order it online, go to the lab they direct you too, and they will e-mail you the results within 7 days. You can take it to your midwife or any other doctor you want to!

        http://www.healthcheckusa.com/Thyroid-Panel-II-with-TSH/46938/

        Honestly, your mom probably knows a lot more about hyperthyroidism than I do (because I have the other one), but it seems to me like post-partum thyroiditis is really common, and maybe you are suffering from a mild case (or not so mild, given the milk suppy/weight loss issues).

        If it makes you feel any better, I lost ALL the baby weight within 2 weeks too – but I chalk it up to the fact that I was on a really strict diet and I didn’t gain very much to begin with. I gained all the other weight AFTER I lost it. ARG! I’m down 17 since I got diagnosed with the hypo though, so that’s good!

  9. Hey Kelly! Are nuts on your “no” list? I ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread. It was quick, easy and cheap.
    I would really also recommend you go to see Andrea Herron. She is a nurse practitioner that specializes in lactation issues and she has been practicing in SLO for a bazillion years. She helped my Mom with Barrett….so that tells you how long. Anyway, my insurance covered most of seeing her, so you could check if yours did. But I remember it not being horribly expensive if my insurance didn’t. She also has weekly group classes/talk sessions that are totally free. I think they are on Wednesdays. Anyways, she is a miracle worked when it comes to all things nursing related, so she might have some good suggestions or thoughts for you. Here is her website.
    http://www.growingwithbaby.org/contact.htm
    It is kinda old but it has her contact info and her office is downtown SLO across from Scolari’s store. Hope that helps! Kerrin

      • Great idea, Kerrin! Personal referrals are definitely the way to go around here on the Central Coast, so I appreciate the heads up.

      • Okay, SMALL WORLD! My mom went to Andrea Herron when she had problems breastfeeding my little sister, Janelle! I went with her, even! Crazy how that works.

  10. skimmed through the responses really quickly to try and not double what anyone has said. it sounds like you have a lot of great advice. i would echo the avocados. they’re like the wonder “fruit”. high in potassium, fat, calories…perfect and tasty. also, don’t forget the beer and the brewers yeast.

    for the record, with topher i gained 50 lbs, but lost half quickly while the rest took a long time to come off. with jonathan, i gained 25 and was back to my pre-weight in 2 weeks. i know you’re worried about not having enough of a supply like last time, but the weight loss could just be how much you gained and how quickly it comes off. in my experience (and i’m no expert so it’s just a guess), 25 lbs of baby comes off pretty quickly b/c that’s just how much baby, placenta, and water weigh. anything extra is what you have to work off. so i wouldn’t worry too much about losing the weight so fast. you don’t have a baby inside anymore. the goal now should just be to eat enough calories in a day to maintain the supply, but the 25 you lost is about right. (i think)

    • You’re right, that’s good to remember. I guess I’m mostly just fearful of what happens if I KEEP losing weight like last time. But my supply with Gregory didn’t get low until I got about 10 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight, so I guess I have a little ways to go before I get concerned. I’m just fearful ahead of schedule…as always…:)

      • Okay, so keeping a blog really does help with the bad memory! I just went back and looked at my entries from Gregory, and I actually lost the weight SLOWER this time than last 🙂 It helps to keep a record, you know, in the case that I get paranoid and freak out. I think what had me fooled into thinking it was happening faster was that this time, my belly shrunk a lot faster, whereas last time that took a few more weeks even though the numbers were down.

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