If you’ve ever breastfed, you know the experience can be a surprising combination of delightful, difficult, awkward, pleasant, painful, exhausting, terrible, or all of the above. But no matter what, it’s likely to make you hungry — and for good reason. Your body burns 300 to 500 calories per day producing milk. Then there’s the fact that feeding yourself and your baby can be quite the challenge, especially in the early days when nursing sessions are nonstop (and therefore, having a free hand or two to whip up a snack can feel pretty impossible).
But fear not, mama: There is hope. These breastfeeding snacks are nutritious, delicious and filling. The best part? Most of them can be stashed in/on/around your nightstand, for the easiest of access.
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Dehydrated cheese (yes, really)
If you find yourself craving potato chips or Doritos but don’t want to fill your baby’s breastmilk with, well, Doritos — Whisps are the answer. In fact, you may never go back to the unhealthy stuff again, since these snacks pack even more flavor, plus protein, thanks to being made with 100% cheese. Yep, that’s it! They’re gluten-free and low-carb to boot.
There’s regular-old granola, and then there’s Supernola. These yummy pouches are packed with superfoods like goji berries, plus nuts and seeds for long-lasting protein power.
Crunchy and salty, pretzels are the perfect low-calorie treat. And these grain-free versions (made with cassava flour) from FitJoy are ideal for the gluten-free, dairy-free, or just plain hungry and healthy breastfeeders out there.
While any granola bar will do the trick, we’re particularly fond of KIND bars, which are sweet, salty and a good source of protein and fiber. Plus, most KIND bars contain almonds — which support lactation and increase milk production.
While roasted chickpeas may sound strange, don’t be fooled: This crunchy snack is salty, savory and full of protein and fiber. Bonus: From chocolate to chili lime, these bad boys come in a wide variety of flavors.
Portable, bite-sized snacks are best when breastfeeding. After all, it’s hard to cook with a newborn on your nipple. So keep a big bag of trail mix on your coffee table, end table or in your diaper bag. The heart-healthy fats will quell your morning hunger or late-night cravings.
Popcorn is high in fiber and will help you feel full.
Unlike some of the other snacks on this list, pre-made smoothies do need to be stored in your freezer or fridge, but if you keep them in single-serve containers, you can grab a cup or bottle before snuggling up with your wee one.
Apples & string cheese
Fruit and cheese pairings are common, but apples and string cheese are a particularly good choice because they’re portable (and neither requires any prep). They also give you that perfect fiber-protein punch.
Speaking of portable, bananas are the ultimate single-handed snack. They are hearty, healthy and will quell any sweet craving. A real win-win.
Berries & yogurt
In case you haven’t noticed a pattern yet: High protein — and high fiber — snacks are a breastfeeding mama’s best friend. So grab a cup of yogurt and a handful of berries, why don’t you?
Made with brewers’ yeast, wheat germ, flaxseed, and whole oats, these lactation cookies reportedly help increase breastmilk production. But, if we’re being honest, we eat them en masse because they’re just plain good.
These are way better than those neon orange crackers you ate in elementary school. Simple Mills’ cheese crackers are made with a nut and seed flour blend for a protein punch, plus real organic cheddar cheese. Pop some of these in your nightstand drawer: Midnight You will be thankful.
Hard boiled eggs
Whether store-bought pre-packaged or boiled at home, eggs are the perfect mini-meal. They’re a low-fat, inexpensive protein choice, and since eggs contain choline, which helps with infant brain development, they’re great for pregnant and nursing moms.
Although, you can also feel free to keep some candy on hand to satiate that inevitable sweet tooth; you deserve it.
A version of this story was originally published in July 2019.
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