Melissa Hartwig

Is the Whole30 safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women?

41 posts in this topic

We are not doctors, and we will always defer to your pediatrician's recommendations. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you know how important Mom's nutrition is to the baby's health and development, and we believe the diet that's healthiest for you is also going to be the healthiest for your baby. The more nutrition Mom receives from her diet, the more she is able to pass along to the little one – and there is no diet more nutritious than one that focuses on healthy protein and fat, vegetables, and fruits.

Michele Blackwell, an OB/GYN in Houston, TX, agrees, saying:

“I have personally experienced the benefits of the Whole30 program, and I wholeheartedly recommend the Whole30 plan to my patients to optimize a woman's health during pregnancy and lactation. The nutrient-dense foods recommended provide ample vitamins and minerals without the need for the standard prenatal supplement. Eating real food Whole9-style will also help regulate blood sugars, alleviating hypoglycemic spells common in pregnancy. In addition, the Whole30 will reduce the likelihood of gestational diabetes, excess pregnancy weight gain, and possibly macrosomia (large babies) and polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid).” -Michele Blackwell, M.D., F.A.C.O.G, Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology

We've had many pregnant women and new moms attest to the benefits of the Whole30 for both the mother's health, and the child's. Most (if not all) have reported that milk supply actually improved during their program, and their babies were less fussy, slept better through the night and experienced less digestive issues and rashes.

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I'm still breastfeeding my almost-21 month old and am on my third Whole30 with no apparent difference in milk supply. However, my caveat is that I had already pump weaned at work and she was down to nursing 3-4 times a day by the time I started my first Whole30 last fall, so my experience may be different from a nursing mom of a younger baby.

We're planning to try for a second child later this year and while I intend to stick mostly to Whole30 principles once I become pregnant, I'll be playing it by ear as it happens.

jennicap and curlygurlpurl like this

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I am still breastfeeding my 25 month old, he gets the bulk of his needs from food at this point and we only have 1-2 sessions a day but I feel like I have more milk now than I did before starting the Whole 30. I'm not counting calories I am eating when I'm hungry but I have been drinking green tea like its going out of style and it is doing wonders for my skin, my energy, my milk supply! I drink 4-6 glasses a day! If my son nurses more in a day I find myself hungry so I eat more that day, same goes when I have a hard exercise day, I eat more. I think anyone who eats and drinks correctly shouldn't have a problem doing this at any time. I am looking into the Paleo Primal diet after this is over and I don't see myself going back to packaged foods and grains any time soon. I've even been converting my son to a more primal diet, I think it will be so beneficial for him! He's been organic/grass fed since birth on everything he eats but I've switched him to coconut milk and he loves the stuff!

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Anytime you breast feed you doing the best you can for your kids. You are providing food that is DESIGNED for them to eat. In addition, they are getting all the immune/antibody benefits that they can get nowhere else. So for those that live in east-nowhere, where the lack of good food is significant, the baby will take from the mother via the breast milk. This happens all the time and it is why the mother gains all the fat that she does to provide lipid rich breast milk to keep those cute little babies slightly ketogenic, which in turn helps their brains grow. But the mom's fat is as good at the nutrition mom eats. So if mom is eating Doritos and McDonalds, that is what the quality of the breast milk will be. If mom is eating real food a la the Whole9, not only is she doing the best she can for herself, but also the baby. At the end of a healthy pregnancy we want a healthy mom, healthy baby and a healthy future. I've been pregnant and I swear Doritos (and their other orange/chip cousins) sing a song, and losing your sanity over Doritos isn't worth it. Have a few if you must, but then get back on the healthy path. Once you clean your system out of junk on a Whole 30, eating non-food will feel like you polluted the system, it is enough of an aversion to not do it again. Your breast feeding kids will tell you the same thing, probably at 3am when you want to sleep!!

- Wendy :)

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i am breastfeeding my 14 week old kiddo and am 3 days away from completing my first whole30. i feel great. i have no idea what effects the program would have had on my milk, aside from better quality milk. my production may have gone up, as well. i'm sure that the real-food that has been pumped through my body could only make my milk rich and clean. i have been grain-free for years now, but whole30 challenged me to really stay away from naughty snacking (gluten-free pretzels, ugh!) and over eating approved foods, like fruits, nuts, etc.

i am now more mindful that what is going into my body, becomes my daughter's food, too. so i'm keeping it simple from now on.

jobeka89 likes this

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I have a friend who is starting the Whole30 today, I think. I'm halfway through my first. She is nursing a 7 week old. She did ask me if the "3 meals, no snacking" applies to BF moms. I assume it doesn't. I'm assuming that if she is hungry because of lactation, she should snack (W30, healthy foods, of course). But, I haven't found a definitive answer on this. Can you help?

nicole33 likes this

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I have a friend who is starting the Whole30 today, I think. I'm halfway through my first. She is nursing a 7 week old. She did ask me if the "3 meals, no snacking" applies to BF moms. I assume it doesn't. I'm assuming that if she is hungry because of lactation, she should snack (W30, healthy foods, of course). But, I haven't found a definitive answer on this. Can you help?

The "three meals a day, no snacking" does NOT apply to pregnant women or breastfeeding Moms. We need to get our calories in where and when we can, so grazing, snacking, or eating mini-meals is more than acceptible if that's what it takes to get food into your sleep-deprived, feeding-every-three-hours body.

Sipping on a can of coconut milk or snacking on olives throughout the day is a good way to get extra calories in, too. I eat a can of olives pretty much every day. Nuts and seeds are a good calorie-dense source too. I know we say not to crack out on them, but when it comes down to needing to get extra calories in, it's A-OK to rely on these cal-dense sources. Of course, if you find yourself blowing through a jar of Sunbutter every three days, maybe it's time to pull back on that one. ;)

Best,

Melissa

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The "three meals a day, no snacking" does NOT apply to pregnant women or breastfeeding Moms. We need to get our calories in where and when we can, so grazing, snacking, or eating mini-meals is more than acceptible if that's what it takes to get food into your sleep-deprived, feeding-every-three-hours body.

Sipping on a can of coconut milk or snacking on olives throughout the day is a good way to get extra calories in, too. I eat a can of olives pretty much every day. Nuts and seeds are a good calorie-dense source too. I know we say not to crack out on them, but when it comes down to needing to get extra calories in, it's A-OK to rely on these cal-dense sources. Of course, if you find yourself blowing through a jar of Sunbutter every three days, maybe it's time to pull back on that one. ;)

Best,

Melissa

This makes me feel better... I'm breastfeeding my 7-week old baby now. As it stands, I'm already an "every 3 hour" eater (I start W30 on May 7th), so between that and breastfeeding, the "3 meals per day, no snacking" rule was seeming doubly as daunting for me. I'm not quite sure what I'll snack on, without it being almonds/pistachios/cashews every time, but hopefully I'll find at least one non-high fat substitute (my current fave snack is almonds with dried goji berries).

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I am on day 5 of my whole30 and I am breast feeding my 9 month old.... He is going through a growth spurt so he is drinking a lot of bm at this point. I haven't seen any drop in supply. I do snack throughout the day when I feel hungry. Fruit or carrots are my go to snack right now.

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I am breastfeeding my 12 month old. I chose to start this because he is always sick! Like I thought that breastfeeding babies were supposed to have better immunity. I am also type 1 diabetic with a terrible diet so this needed to happen. Wish me luck! Feeling hugry but mentally not physically if that makes sense.....

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This just made me go "phew"! 😓 Today's day 60 for me and I snack ALOT and eat ALOT! I thought I was doing something wrong this whole time until seeing this. I've been in troubleshooting this whole time and just discovering this section! Thanks so much for this post! I've been breastfeeding for 34 months now- should've known that's be why I'm eating so much haha. Thanks again!

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Tomorrow will be my first day of Whole 30. I'm subscribing to the newsletters, I've purchased and am currently reading "It Starts With Food" and I have spent a day of stocking my pantry. In other words, I'm working REALLY HARD to do this 100%, and I want to do it right! I'm pumped up!

 

I am exclusively breast feeding my 6 week newborn. I'm doing Whole 30 primarily as an elimination diet, and weightloss is NOT a major concern or motivator for me. I'm primarily concerned with eating clean and getting the best nutrition possible, and hoping to identify some allergy triggers for me and my newborn. I am also concerned about getting enough calories, as I have a high metabolism and an increased need for calories as a breastfeeding mum.

 

I haven't been able to find canned coconut milk or canned olives that don't have sulfites. In "It Starts with Food" pg. 212, it says:

 

"Sulfites occur naturally in many foods and beverages and are a byproduct of fermentation, so they are found in most wines, as well as basalmic and red wine vinegars. They are also added to processed foods to increase shelf life, preserve color, and inhibit microbial growth. Sulfites can cause significant dermatological, pulmonary, gastroinetestinal, and cardiovascular symptoms in sensitive people."

 

This describes me. Eczema is a major problem I deal with, and it has become unbarable during this postpartum time. I have also had a short history of pulmonary tachycardia (random, rapid heart palpitations). 

 

I'd really like to set myself up for success during these 30 days, but I can't find a good source for coconut milk (ironically I live in Hawaii, but cracking open a fresh coconut is a huge effort for a small amount of harvest), nor olives that aren't canned with many preservatives.

 

Tips? Suggestions? I will snack on avocados and nuts and seeds, but I need more variety. Would starchy veggies be a good go-to for someone in my particular situation? (sweet potatoes, especially purple Hawaiian sweet potatoes are easy to get here.)

 

Thanks for your input!

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For most snacks you want to follow the "mini-meal" template. I haven't had to snack much, but my nursling is 2.5.

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Tomorrow will be my first day of Whole 30. I'm subscribing to the newsletters, I've purchased and am currently reading "It Starts With Food" and I have spent a day of stocking my pantry. In other words, I'm working REALLY HARD to do this 100%, and I want to do it right! I'm pumped up!

I am exclusively breast feeding my 6 week newborn. I'm doing Whole 30 primarily as an elimination diet, and weightloss is NOT a major concern or motivator for me. I'm primarily concerned with eating clean and getting the best nutrition possible, and hoping to identify some allergy triggers for me and my newborn. I am also concerned about getting enough calories, as I have a high metabolism and an increased need for calories as a breastfeeding mum.

I haven't been able to find canned coconut milk or canned olives that don't have sulfites. In "It Starts with Food" pg. 212, it says:

"Sulfites occur naturally in many foods and beverages and are a byproduct of fermentation, so they are found in most wines, as well as basalmic and red wine vinegars. They are also added to processed foods to increase shelf life, preserve color, and inhibit microbial growth. Sulfites can cause significant dermatological, pulmonary, gastroinetestinal, and cardiovascular symptoms in sensitive people."

This describes me. Eczema is a major problem I deal with, and it has become unbarable during this postpartum time. I have also had a short history of pulmonary tachycardia (random, rapid heart palpitations).

I'd really like to set myself up for success during these 30 days, but I can't find a good source for coconut milk (ironically I live in Hawaii, but cracking open a fresh coconut is a huge effort for a small amount of harvest), nor olives that aren't canned with many preservatives.

Tips? Suggestions? I will snack on avocados and nuts and seeds, but I need more variety. Would starchy veggies be a good go-to for someone in my particular situation? (sweet potatoes, especially purple Hawaiian sweet potatoes are easy to get here.)

Thanks for your input!

could you buy a carton of canned coconut milk online? or perhaps go to an area where there's bigger shops (I think I read you lived in the "country") to do a bulk buy? there are plenty available without sulphites or any added nasties!

what about olives in jars? again, it might be something you could get at a bigger shop if you wanted to make a trip.

in terms of eating - most BF mums seem to eat 4-5 meals a day to support their needs and the needs of their bub. these are actual meals with protein/fat/vegies, not just a snack of nuts/fruit/avo. any vegies will work, and having a variety is good - definitely include the starchy vegies though! they'll help with energy :)

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@Ravin, is the "mini-meal" template something that is actually written about in It Starts With Food, or Whole9Life.com? I haven't gotten to that yet. But I get the main idea just from the term. :)

 

@amberino21, thanks for the suggestions--yes I've done both (looking online and going into Honolulu to bigger stores, including Whole Foods). Discouraged by the lack of options, but I'm not giving up! I did find canned olives that only have ferrous gluconate which is basically iron, in a small amount, and from what I can tell it's not going to mess with a person's immune system the way sulfites do.

 

As for coconut milk, I think I may have found something--but I've got to check it out in person tomorrow. Hawaiian Sun supposedly makes a frozen (fresh) coconut milk. I don't know yet if it has any other additives, and I'm not sure but I think our local Foodland carries it. Figured this out from Nom Nom Paleo's blog post on coconut milks. Hopefully tomorrow I'll find out that they have it, and that it is simply: coconut milk (and no other additives). Fingers crossed.

 

Here is something else I found that is very helpful and easy to use, about food additives and how they potentially affect our bodies:

http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#safety_summary

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I LOVE seeing all the full-term nursing moms!!  

Natasha, I experienced similar results this morning, my day two.  I'm tandem nursing my 3 year old and 1 year old.  I think I just didn't eat enough yesterday.  It went away after I had breakfast.  

 

I started whole30 yesterday, tandem nursing 3YO and 4MO.on day two I expirienced morning sickness, vomiting , publications (around 140 vr 60) , and lack of appetite. Any suggestions?
Thank you

tinyflame and 2TmamaRN like this

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It is amazing seeing moms who are well into "extended" (normal biological:)) breastfeeding!

 

I am on Day 5 of my first W30 - nursing my 16 mo daughter -  and haven't experienced any of the symptoms described in the W30 timeline. I'm wondering if this is because my sleep is not ideal...my daughter wakes to eat multiple times a night, I work full-time outside the home, and I have a 5 yo son. Life is full :)  I have not committed to any sort of regular exercise plan since my daughter's birth because I know that an exercise program is secondary to sleep.

 

Will my lack of sleep (avg 5-7 hours a night) and lack of exercise seriously impede any benefits of the whole30? I've pretty much accepted that at this season of my life things are just more challenging, but I'd like to hear what the experts say.

danielleswhole30 and 2TmamaRN like this

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tinyflame,

 

I have a similar life.  12 month old that still wakes 2 times a night to nurse and a three year old.  I get about 6 to 7 hours of sleep a night.  I am currently on day 22 of on my second whole 30 since July 8.  I did not get all the sugar(Chocolate) out of my system and when I found myself regressing I went right back on the whole 30.  Despite that I have had fantastic results.  I went from a size 12 to a size 8.  I lost 14lbs during my first whole 30 and I am sure I am still losing weight during this one.  My diet is so much better now and I feel great.  I also no longer fall asleep on the couch at 7:30 while I am nursing like I use to.  I can make it to about 9:30 now a days.  Party!!!

 

I did exercise a little during my first whole 30, maybe 3 days a week for 2 weeks, but I have not sustained it.  We ride bikes on the weekend and go for walks some evenings, but that is only once a week or so.  I also do sits ups in the morning now, trying to tighten that baby belly flab. 

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Thanks Elizabeth! I am active on the weekends when I'm with my kids all day, but during the week not so much. I have a standing desk, and I run around like a maniac in the evening doing chores. One day I'll do something more formal :) Glad to hear I can still expect good results!

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19 weeks and 5 days pregnant and started my third Whole30 (this time with hubby!) yesterday :)
I have been following a paleo diet template for the past 16 months but throughout my first trimester sugars slipped their sneaky hands back into our lives, more and more paleo-treats and a hard candy or two off my coworkers desk. I even chewed gum for almost a month!!!

 

On day 2 now and feeling the pull for "treats" with my morning coffee and the urge to snack at night, despite being full to the top of my now-much-higher-in-my-abdomen stomach!

 

Feeling a lot less cranky without the sugar though! WHEW! The crankiness and general "down" fog hubby and I were in is our main reasons for restarting the Whole30 and detoxing out the sugars and poor habits.

It's also important to note, I am continuing to consume full fat dairy this time as I know from my first two Whole30's that I do not have any issues with full fat dairy once or twice a day (heavy cream in my coffee and some all natural plain yogurt)

Karyna likes this

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I'm nursing my 19 month old who still wakes a few times at night. I have a hard time staying not hungry, so it's a relief that I can eat more often than 3x!!

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Fun to read everyone's Whole30 while breastfeeding success stories! I am on Day 5 of my third Whole30 program. The previous two I was nursing a 2-3 year old toddler, so didn't even think much about milk production. But this time, with my EBF 5 month old I've had several people voice their "concerns" about it affecting my babe in some way. So my initial thoughts were along the lines of "really? I'm cutting out sugar and dairy (which makes me feel horrible) and eating lots of super healthy nutrient dense food and you're worried? Because I'm not getting any legumes or fiber rich, inflammatory promoting whole grains? All of which I ate too much of during pregnancy when I couldn't stand the smell/taste of my freezer full of grass fed beef and just wanted toast, grilled cheese, noodles and white rice. But then I realized it would probably be wise to check and see if any special recommendations were given for us nursing Mommas. So thanks for this thread! I will be heading out to stock up on more snacks tomorrow! I don't really even like olives and ate half a can today :-) .

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Glad to find the support for nursing moms!  My daughter is almost 4 1/2 mo's old and I am on my 2nd day of Whole 30...glad to read that snacking is encouraged as I've been so HUNGRY!  Having a hard time increasing portions so far and maybe that's why.  Had a handful of cashews @ 2am after a nursing session when I couldn't get back to sleep!  Hoping to learn some easy/quick mini meals...also anyone have any favorite bfasts?  Eggs everyday seems overwhelming & i'm not used to eating meat in the am.  Thanks!!

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