breastfeeding diet
Image source - Mother's Insights

Diet Guide For Breastfeeding Mothers

 

As momentous the occasion of arrival of a new member in the family is, it is also a difficult time for the mother. Breastfeeding is very crucial but many new mothers struggle with breastfeeding.

Breast feeding helps build the baby’s immune system, provides critical nutrients and promotes development. Breast milk is very nutritious and contains most of the nutrients your baby needs especially for the first 6 months after their arrival. Consequently, your needs for most nutrients are also increased in order to meet this demand. This sort of a healthy diet will also provide you with the energy that you’d need in order to take care of both, your baby and yourself.

It is quite common to be tempted to lose weight quickly right after the delivery, but you have to remember to be more patient. It is completely normal to not lose any weight and even to gain some extra, especially during the first months of the breastfeeding. You may even experience an increase in your appetite due to the hormonal changes in your body. Although, restricting calories too much during this crucial initial stage of the baby may result in a decrease in the milk supply. You will feel a huge downfall in your energy level as well.

 

What to include?

 

Image source – NYT Cooking – The New York Times

 

You must know that the phase of lactation demands an additional 500kcal in the diet of a breastfeeding mother. Therefore, breast feeding mothers are advised to consume a healthy diet with good proportions of proteins, vitamins, iron and calcium.

 

  • Include protein foods 2-3 times per day. For this you can include – meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, dark green vegetables, cereals, pulses, dried fruits, whole grain bread, nuts and seeds.

 

  • You must eat at least two servings of fruit per day.

 

  • Try to include whole grains such as whole wheat breads, pasta, cereal and oatmeal in your daily diet which will keep you full longer.

 

  • B12 is a vitamin that can only be found in animal products. To prevent any deficiency of it is also of utmost importance. Although supplements are the best way to meet your body’s requirement but you must make sure your doctor approves of it as well.

 

  • You can meet your iron requirements from mushrooms, tofu, nuts, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, iron-fortified bread, and cereal. To make them even more effective, your diet plan should have a mix of foods containing high Vitamin C.

 

  • Fish is a very good source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an Omega-3 essential fatty acid, which is an essential nutrient for your baby’s brain and eye development. However, it definitely can’t be part of a vegan breastfeeding diet plan. But flax-seed, hemp-seed, and walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which your body can transform into DHA, although the amount may be too less.

 

  • Flax-seeds are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Make sure they are well grounded as they can’t be digested as a whole and also are excreted unchanged.

 

  • Also, Flax oil is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. It has a sweet and light taste. You can pair it well with veggies and smoothies.

 

  • Avocados are nearly 80% fat and helps maintain a feeling of fullness. It also provides your body with heart-healthy fats. They are also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin K, folate, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

 

  • Sweet potato is that one medium that meets a lot of the daily recommendation of vitamin A for breast feeding mothers. Vitamin A is very crucial for good vision, bone growth, cell specialization and immune function.

 

  • You can find Vitamin D mainly in fatty fish, fish liver oils and fortified foods – something of paramount importance for health in total but especially for bone health and immune function.

 

  • It is often advised to lactating mothers to have oats as a part of their diet because it helps to reduce cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. It has also seen to increase the milk supply.

 

  • Adding garlic surely increases the deliciousness of your dish but you should know that it also increases the milk supply.

 

  • Carrots contain beta-carotene and it is great for lactating mothers.

 

  • Moderate amounts of coffee and caffeinated beverages have not been shown to cause harm, but they may affect the baby’s  Therefore, it is recommended that breastfeeding women limit their coffee intake.

 

  • It is a known fact about alcohol consumption during breastfeeding. But you must know that, on average, it takes your body about 1–2 hours to clear each unit of alcohol. Therefore, you’ll want to wait a few hours for each drink you’ve consumed before breastfeeding your baby.

 

  • A given fact is that breastfeeding mothers will feel dehydrated. You will have to keep your energy levels and milk production up by making sure you stay well-hydrated. Keep a bottle of water with you all times of the day and night. You can also vary your options and meet some of your fluid requirements by drinking juice and milk.

Remember: Variety is definitely the spice of life. So, you can enjoy the vast array of dietary options but you also have to make sure to maintain a healthy diet. Although, vitamins and supplements always come in handy but try to have nutrients from healthy foods than depending on supplements for your nutritional needs.

 

Also read: Why is breastfeeding important?

 Breast milk bath for babies: Procedure and Benefits