A healthy breastfeeding diet is crucial in providing your baby the proper nutrients needed for his or her development. While research suggests that breast milk is nutritious regardless of what the mother eats, a good diet for nursing mothers gives you the energy to handle the challenges of being a new mom, while of course providing optimal nutrients to your baby. This way, your body won’t need to draw on its reserves to sustain you and your baby. Here are some tips to ensure you’re getting the essential nutrients to stay in tip-top shape.
9 Breastfeeding Diet Tips to Protect You and Your Baby
1. Know What Nutrients You Need
Some nutrients in breast milk depend on what’s in your diet. This means that you should adjust your meals to get all the nutrients you can. Ultimately, his will trickle down to baby getting more nutrients too! The following are the vitamins and minerals you need to consume while breastfeeding:
- Vitamin A can be found in liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, and dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach.
- Choline mostly comes from liver, eggs, fish, and peanuts.
- Vitamin B1 and B2 are in red meat, fish, seeds and nuts, cheeses, eggs, and almonds.
- Iodine comes mostly from seaweed and cranberries, as well as iodized salt.
- Vitamin B12 can be found in a variety of seafood such as shellfish, salmon, and shrimp.
- Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts, a variety of saltwater fish, and beef.
- Vitamin D comes from oily fish and dairy products. You should also get under the sun more often, as the body naturally produces Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.
There are also nutrients found in breast milk that don’t depend on your dietary habits. This means that eating food rich in these vitamins and minerals is beneficial mostly for you. These nutrients are the following:
- Folate can be found in dark leafy vegetables such as kale. It can also be found in lentils, asparagus, beans, peas, and avocado.
- Calcium comes from dairy products as well as legumes.
- Iron can be found mostly in red meat.
- Copper comes from liver, whole grains, nuts, and shellfish.
- Zinc can be found in beans and nuts, oysters, red meat, and poultry.
Make sure to adjust your diet to get all the nutrients you need. Your baby will grow healthier and faster!
2. Avoid These Foods While Breastfeeding
There are some foods to avoid while breastfeeding because they can affect the quality and quantity of your milk. For example, high-mercury fish–such as tuna, mackerel, and shark—should be consumed sparingly while breastfeeding. Mercury is dangerous to your baby’s developing nervous system. You should also avoid processed foods since they are high in sodium and some labels have harmful additives.
3. No Caffeine, No Alcohol
Just like when you were pregnant, you should keep caffeine and alcohol out of your diet. Studies show that 1% of the caffeine you consume goes to your breastmilk and can affect your baby’s sleep.
While the occasional drink is acceptable, do not breastfeed right after drinking as this will affect your milk. Wait at least two hours before nursing or expressing milk to ensure your body has already metabolized the caffeine or alcohol in your system.
4. Cut Down on Fat
Animal feeds are often exposed to contaminants and other chemicals. Once eaten, these harmful substances are often stored in the fat of cows and pigs. Because of this, you should opt for the leaner cuts of meat at the grocery store. As much as possible, choose organic, low-fat dairy products to avoid other chemicals like pesticides and growth hormones in your food.
5. Keep It Organic
You can never go wrong with organic foods, even though the prices can be a little steep. It’s well worth being able to minimize your exposure to chemicals and contaminants, as these can affect your baby’s development through your breast milk.
6. Stay Hydrated
Milk production requires a lot of water, so you need to keep a glass or large pitcher near you at all times. There’s no fixed amount of daily water intake you need to remember, just make sure to quench your thirst as it arises. If you ever feel more tired than usual, it might be your body telling you it needs more water, so up your intake.
7. Add Variety to Your Meals
— Diana K. Rice, RD (@DianaKRice) December 4, 2017
Variety ensures you get enough of the nutrients you need. Not only that, you’ll be more enthusiastic when meal time comes. Enjoying what you eat makes you feel strong and satisfied. You can even get your partner on board with planning your meals to give you some bonding time.
8. Don’t Mind the Calories
You may be tempted to start losing the extra pounds you gained during pregnancy. Experts agree that this isn’t a problem provided that you lose the weight gradually. Crash diets are the ones you should avoid since they will deplete the reserves of your body. This will be harmful to you and your baby in the long run.
9. Keep Taking Your Supplements
Even though a good breastfeeding diet should cover your basic nutrients, there’s no harm in getting a bit more help using vitamin supplements. Some lactation supplements help increase milk production, while others make up for any nutrient deficiencies you have. Keep taking your supplements until you’ve weaned your baby.
Check with your doctor before taking any supplements to make sure you’re getting exactly what you need. Not only that, your doctor can help you avoid any unsafe supplements on the market.
Pair your breastfeeding diet with regular exercise to strengthen your muscles and prepare for all the baby-lifting ahead of you. What’s Up Moms shares an effective 20-minute workout you can try at home:
A good breastfeeding diet prevents complications from developing in your baby. It also safeguards you from illness and fatigue. Indulging in certain food from time to time isn’t bad. Just remember to first consult your doctor before trying anything new, to make sure it won’t harm you or affect your milk supply supply.
Do you have other breastfeeding diet tips we missed? Let us know in the comments section below!