Pregnancy makes the body go through an immense amount of changes. Besides pushing organs in new and fascinating places, you also typically gain a few pounds to benefit both yourself and your baby. It's natural, then, that after that perfect baby is in your arms, you'd want to get your body to return to normal, or at least your new normal. Since exercise is traditionally forbidden for at least six weeks after delivery, the successful and popular Whole30 diet, which involves participants eliminating sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets for 30 days, might be an option. But can women do it while breastfeeding?
Producing milk is one of the most important things a mom's body does, but to create the required supply, an uptick in calories is needed, says lactation consultants at Morristown Medical Center, Mary Jane Swenson, Renee Quinn, Jenny Peterson, Dana Caulkins, and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Christin Aikey. "Depending on the mom's fat stores and diet, during lactation, an additional 400 calories per day is recommended to meet the caloric needs of producing about one liter of breast milk per day during the first six months of lactation," they told POPSUGAR. "A woman may get enough calories to sufficiently produce milk, however if she is eliminating foods due to diet recommendations and/or her own personal preferences, she may not meet her calorie goals for increasing milk production, while another may not have trouble."
Besides the potential to cause problems with supply, the Whole30 diet also might not give a breastfeeding mom everything she needs. "Although aiming to promote a diet of whole, real foods, it's a restrictive diet that can lead to nutritional gaps (potentially calcium, vitamin d, and some B vitamins found in enriched whole grains) for breastfeeding women," they continued. "Continuing a prenatal vitamin may help bridge some gaps, but again, food groups are eliminated so the diet is not balanced."
The risk, it seems, doesn't outweigh the rewards. "Lactation, in addition to the demands of new motherhood, may not be the best time to try to 'reset' their bodies," they warn. Instead of focusing on trendy diets, the recommendation is to take a more holistic approach to health. "Eating a healthy, balanced diet with foods from a wide variety of all the food groups in moderation will provide a mother with what is needed to produce quality breast milk for her baby. Remember portion sizes. Choose lean proteins, lower fat dairy products, whole grains, fruits and vegetables."