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Win a Contented Calf Breastfeeding Recipe Book

Breastfeeding Cookbook
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Breastfeeding and diet can be an emotive issue – it’s damn hard to cook or eat with a newborn in tow and often the priority is calories rather than nutritional value (I survived on a diet of chocolate buttons for weeks despite Mr MilkChic’s best efforts!).

Breastfeeding Cookbook

Milk supply can be a major concern for nursing mothers and particularly those who give birth prematurely. While, unless extremely malnourished, most mothers can produce adequate amounts of breastmilk, the food you eat does affect your milk and more importantly your own energy levels (a poor diet is more likely to affect you than your baby). Breastfeeding places high demands on your stores of energy and protein so it makes sense to eat well where you can.

Elena Cimelli’s Contented Calf Cookbook aims to support nursing mums with lots of tasty and nutritious recipes focusing on lactogenic ingredients (foods which help promote milk production).

lactogenic/ lac·to·gen·ic  /?lakt??jenik

(of a hormone or other substance) Inducing milk secretion.

Being honest, I have mixed feelings on lactogenic foods. The evidence definitely points to certain foods having milk boosting properties which can be helpful to new mums. However, I’m also inclined to believe that for many there are times when the pressure to eat the right things, use the right nappies, wean at the right moment, have the perfect sleep routine etc. etc. can lead to unnecessary insecurities. I know Elena agrees with me that for the vast majority of us, who are lucky enough to have the physical ability to produce enough milk for our babies, fear and insecurity are far greater dangers to the breastfeeding relationship than a less than perfect diet and the Contented Calf approach is definitely not about increasing the pressure.

So… while neither Elena or I would not want you to start obsessing about your diet in any way, shape or form (for some perspective, read some reassuring facts here), I wholeheartedly recommend this book – it’s a really good recipe book that just happens to be aimed at breastfeeding women. It’s also offers some great ideas for vegetarians and vegans and for gluten-free diets and frankly I love it.

Rather than giving you a list of “good” and “bad” foods, it actually tells you what to do with them to make an enjoyable meal. In fact, the recipes use similar foods to those I enjoyed during pregnancy which did made me wonder if that was one of the reasons I was so lucky in the early weeks. I also like that a lot of the recipes are freezable and perfect for filling the freezer in preparation for the new arrival. Maybe the answer is to build up your reserves while you have the chance?

The book is helpfully split into breakfasts, lunches, dinners, sweet things and drinks. While you might need to rethink your store cupboard a little – nuts and seeds are particularly useful – they are meals that will work for all the family with old favourites such as stew and dumplings and fishcakes reworked to include breastfeeding friendly ingredients. You can try one of Elena’s recipes for Thai Coconut and Chicken Soup here to see what I mean.

If like me, you aren’t supermum enough to make ahead, the meals are designed to be prepared in a naptime. Although I did find the list of ingredients a little daunting at first, the recipes I tried were easy to follow and gave tasty, reliable results. As a cook of limited ability, the thought that I could realistically have been knocking up “proper” meals in a naptime while small one was an even smaller one is very appealing, not least because the thought of me making something decent for dinner would have blown Mr MilkChic’s mind!

Our favourite so far is the chicken, almond & apricot casserole, something that will definitely become a staple in our household. We made this for guests, not one of whom was pregnant or breastfeeding and everybody loved it.

To be in with a chance of winning your own copy of The Contented Calf Cookbook, please leave a comment below. For a bonus entry, either share the competition on Facebook or tweet the following:

I’ve entered to #win The @ContentedCalf Cookbook with @milkchic http://milkchic.co.uk/66224 #food #breastfeeding #pregnancy

Terms & Conditions: Entry open to UK & Ireland only. Closing date: 2nd November 2013 Extended to Monday 4th November 23:59 due to website issues. Winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries. No cash alternative. If the winner cannot be contacted after 7 days, an alternative may be chosen. Disclosure: I received a review copy of The Contented Calf Cookbook: Nourishing Recipes for Breastfeeding Mums for this post so that I could try some of the recipes.

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Let them eat cake!

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milkshakeThere was an article in the Science pages of The Telegraph yesterday about the effects of breastfeeding on your child’s tastes in later life.

The bare bones of the research were nothing new – your diet affects the way your milk tastes. Just as we are aware that what we eat during pregnancy is important for our developing child, we know that our diet affects the quality (and quantity) of our milk.

I posted the link on Facebook, filed it for future reference, and moved on. So why is it still bothering me?

The focus of the article was on ensuring that mothers ate enough fruit and vegetables while breastfeeding, especially between the critical ages of 2 and 5 months.

Dr Gary Beauchamp, director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, who led the research, believes that

By exposing infants at this very sensitive period is appears to be possible to make them like something that they would otherwise deem to be horrible. If we could enhance consumption of vegetables amongst pregnant and nursing women, it ought to impact on their children’s later food choices and result in healthier eating.

I enjoy my vegetables and manage my 5-a-day with ease. In fact, thanks to the wonderful “Mr MilkChic” who is a great cook, I generally feel quite smug about my healthy, well-balanced and varied diet.

But… until my daughter was at least 6 months old my focus was purely on calories. I’m not talking about calorie control, or crazy celeb post-baby diets here. I’m talking about managing to get enough calories into my body, one-handed, while looking after a baby.

For those 6 months or so, as well as my healthy balanced diet, I ate huge amounts of cake, chocolate and biscuits. I needed them just to remain awake and functioning!

I don’t think it’s really harmed me – my weight has plateaued at about 1/2 a stone above my pre-baby weight, which as I am unable to exercise and am 6 cup sizes bigger than I was, seems fair. I figure that when the small one is weaned and my back has recovered, I will be much the same as before, physically if not mentally.

But now I am worrying about the harm to my daughter’s fledgling tastebuds. Has my colossal appetite for chocolate buttons cancelled out the benefit of my otherwise balanced meals and given her a sweet tooth that will haunt her in later life? I really hope not. Short of employing a full time chef, I don’t think breastfeeding would have been sustainable on healthy food alone.

To be fair, it isn’t the Telegraph’s fault that I’m feeing guilty. The article was balanced and well-written. And there is little I can do to change things now, except be mindful that my daughter may have a propensity for chocolate milk abuse.

So, as I don’t want to pass on a guilt complex as well as a sweet tooth, I am listening to the ever practical KellyMom, who says that “Making women think that they must maintain ‘perfect’ diets in order to have thriving breastfed babies is an unnecessary obstacle to breastfeeding”.

Besides, one day I dream of another baby, and what would maternity leave be without cake?

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