Breastfeeding Diet

Breastfeeding DietEating a wholesome, well-balanced breastfeeding diet is important for two reasons: First, what you eat goes into your blood stream and anything in your bloodstream enters your breast milk. That means, for better or for worse, your baby eats what you eat, just like when she was in the womb. Secondly, as a new mom you need a lot of energy. We mean A LOT OF ENERGY! You’ll be breastfeeding around the clock, up at all hours and navigating an entirely new life with a baby. You need your strength and that, in large part, comes from nutritious food.

Breastfeeding itself takes a lot of energy and can burn up to 500 calories a day! That’s a pretty fantastic workout all from the comfort of your rocker while cuddling your precious baby. (Sorry, this type of workout won’t last long so enjoy it while you can!) In order to not deplete your body of all of its nutrients, you may need to eat a little extra while breastfeeding to sustain both milk production and your own energy.

So what exactly should you eat as part of your breastfeeding diet? It’s not all that different from a normal wholesome, well-balanced diet but it’s more critical than ever that you make sure you hit all of the essential food groups and nutrients:

Protein: 3 servings of lean protein daily – at least 15 grams.

Complex Carbohydrates: at least 3 servings daily – around 260 grams (60% more than pre-pregnancy!). Save low-carb dieting until after weaning.

Fruits and Vegetables: 3-5 servings daily – aim for at least 3 dark leafy green (with powerful folic acid) or yellow varieties.

Calcium: Breastfeeding depletes calcium from your bones temporarily so try for 5 servings daily from low-fat dairy products, legumes or vegetables.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 2-3 servings weekly to support your baby’s brain development. Limit fish to 2 servings weekly to avoid mercury overload.

Iron: at least 1 serving daily through red meat, legumes or vegetables

Water: hydration is crucial during breastfeeding since your breast milk is made mostly of water. Drink until you feel satisfied, which will probably be more than usual while nursing.

It’s also a great idea to continue taking your prenatal vitamins throughout breastfeeding. Those same great nutrients your baby needed in utero will benefit her in your breast milk as well.

Limit high-fat foods, alcohol, caffeine and some herbs like peppermint and sage that may decrease your milk supply. Also avoid any foods that may cause your baby distress. Sometimes certain foods can cause gassiness, acid reflux or other irritations in babies. If your baby is allergic to a certain food – the most common of which are nuts, eggs and shellfish – she may show extreme symptoms. Stay on top of your baby’s reaction as you may discover an early food allergy.

These are some of our favorite breastfeeding friendly foods:

Salmon: Just two servings a week can give your baby a dose of all-powerful omega-3 fatty acids for incredible brain development.

Oatmeal: A known galactogogue, this is a hearty whole-grain that will sustain you for hours.

Beans: Dark beans like black beans and kidney beans are excellent vegetarian sources of protein and iron.

Green Leafy Vegetables: Kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts and more can provide you and your baby with tons of Vitamin A and C, as well as folic acid, calcium and other fabulous nutrients.

Berries: Many types of berries, especially blueberries, are chock full of vitamins and antioxidants to help boost your energy.

Whole Wheat Breads: The perfect carb, whole wheat bread contains satisfying fiber as well as many more vitamins and minerals than its plain white counterpart.

Avocado: With healthy fats and a good deal of fiber, this creamy fruit is perfect for salads, spreading on toast or eating straight up.

Sources: What to Expect, WebMD, BabyCenter and The Bump

 

Loving Moments believes moms should have the knowledge, resources and power to make the healthiest choices for their babies, starting with breastfeeding. In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month in August, we are sharing Breastfeeding Basics, our educational blog series that we hope will empower you with information, encouragement and inspiration to meet your breastfeeding goals.