Eating for Breastfeeding: Pump Some Iron

Hey Mama, are you pumping your iron? We aren’t talking about lifting weights here (you get enough of that lifting and carrying that precious bundle of joy around)! We’re talking about getting enough iron while breastfeeding.

Current recommendations state that breastfeeding women need 10 mg iron daily. While you need less while nursing than when pregnant, you still need to keep iron on your radar. In fact, one study suggests that low iron status in mama can also lead to decreased milk supply (1). Additionally, another study found that mother’s who are deficient in iron while breastfeeding report higher incidence of depression, stress, and poorer cognitive function (2). There is currently some debate if mothers actually need more iron postpartum than the current recommendations…if deficiency is even caught- many women aren’t screened for anemia postpartum (3)!

Here are some of our favorite sources:

  • 1 cup cooked spinach: 6.4 mg (Laura’s Fave!)

  • 1 cup cooked lentils: 6.6 mg (Lindsey’s Fave!)

  • 3 oz ground beef: 2.3 mg

  • 1 oz pumpkin seeds 4.2 mg

A few points to consider:

If you are eating a plant-based iron-rich food (like spinach, lentils or seeds above), make sure you pair it with a source of Vitamin C. This increases the body’s absorption of plant-based iron.

If you take an iron supplement, take it separately from a calcium supplement or calcium-rich food. Why? Calcium can inhibit iron absorption in the body!

BTW: Lindsey swears by this iron supplement! Note: We are part of the Amazon affiliate program, and we earn a small percentage from any purchases from this link.

We know you've got a lot going on, so we wanted to create a resource that would help you nourish your body while breastfeeding that precious babe. Click here to request our free download all about nutrition while nursing!

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Questions about prenatal nutrition? Want to eat right for that Liquid Gold? On the struggle bus with a picky eater? Let us help you! We are available for consultations.

  1. Rioux FM, Savoie N, Allard J. Is there a link between postpartum anemia and discontinuation of breastfeeding? Can J Diet Pract Res. 2006;67(2):72-6.

  2. Beard J, et al. Maternal Iron Deficiency Anemia Affects Postpartum Emotions and Cognition. Sci Rep. 2019; 9: 7810.

  3. Yefet E, et al. Evaluation of postpartum anaemia screening to improve anaemia diagnosis and patient care: A prospective non-randomized before-and-after anaemia screening protocol implementation study. The Journal of Nutrition. 2005;135(2):267–272.

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