Diet for breastfeeding moms – Find out what to eat and avoid, and healthy tips while breastfeeding and nursing your baby.
As a breastfeeding mother, what you eat affects your health and the breast milk you produce. It is important that you eat a healthy well-balanced diet just like you did when you were pregnant because of almost everything you eat will come through in your breast milk. That means your baby is eating exactly what you eat. You have to be careful on the kind of food you take because sometimes babies react to some kind of food.
Some women after birth have an increased appetite and thirst, but take note not to eat anything available. Always take food and drinks that are nourishing, enough liquids to support your health and your body’s production of breast milk. A mother who breastfeeds her baby exclusively needs to take 300-500 calories a day in order to produce and maintain an adequate milk supply. But note that the number of additional calories needed for nursing mothers depends on the extent of breastfeeding and how fat you are.
Breastfeeding Mothers must follow a certain healthy diet to maintain and increase lactation. Every nursing mother should be encouraged and supported because breastfeeding and nursing a baby can be very challenging. One of the wonders of breast milk is that it can meet your baby’s nutritional needs even when you are not eating perfectly.
Diet for breastfeeding moms
Diet for breastfeeding mothers include:
- Eat almonds
- Eat legumes
- Whole grains such as wheat, brown rice, wheat bread, oats, etc
- Fruits and vegetables
- Eat spinach
- Drink carrot juice
- Drink at least 2-3 cups of milk a day
- Proteins such as beans, eggs, poultry, and fish
- Drink enough water
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Foods to avoid
- Caffeine (coffee, soda, or tea)
- Unprescribed medications
- Foods that your baby react to
- High mercury fish such as shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel
Healthy tips for nursing mothers
- Always eat healthily: All nursing mothers should eat healthy to get enough nutrients and calories. This is because the period of nursing a baby can be very demanding. The body tries to recover from the stress of pregnancy and delivery, and it also tries to adjust to meet the baby’s need. Your food must be a good mix of fruits, vegetables, carbohydrate, and protein
- Get enough water for hydration: Adequate hydration ensures that the mother makes adequate breast milk for the baby. It helps in the excretion of toxins and by-products of metabolism thus keeping the cells and tissues healthy.
- No better substitute for breast milk: Nursing Mothers should make sure they feed their baby with breast milk exclusively except where it is medically contraindicated. Breast milk alone should be given in the first 6 months of life after which semi-solid foods can be introduced alongside with breast milk till 2 years of age.
- Commence breast milk early: Breast milk should be commenced within 30 mins after childbirth. This promotes bonding, reduces the incidence of neonatal hypoglycemia, and it ensures that the baby gets the first milk which is termed as colostrum which is rich in vitamins, proteins, fats, and immune cells.
- Take care of your breast and nipples: Nursing mothers should always take good care of their breast and nipples. The breasts and nipples should be washed with mild soap and water before breastfeeding. Make sure the baby’s mouth entirely cover the areola region to prevent the baby from biting on the nipples. Ths causes nipple pain and cracks which acts as a passage for bacteria from the skin to gain access to the breast tissue causing infection.
- Avoid Over the Counter (OTC) and unprescribed drugs: Most drugs taken by nursing mothers are found in breast milk and this can cause considerable harm to the baby feeding on breast milk. All nursing mothers should avoid OTC drugs and should only take drugs prescribed by a doctor.
- Find time to exercise: Nursing mothers should find time to exercise even in their busy schedule. Exercise helps in shedding fat accumulated during pregnancy, promotes strong and healthy bones, prevents hypertension, diabetes and stroke. It also helps in the production of breast milk.
- Always ask for help: Always ask for help from an experienced nurse, midwives, doctor, or lactation experts. It doesn’t mean you are weak but shows you are courageous. All fears and worries should be addressed to make sure that you and your baby have a successful nursing and breastfeeding period.
While this guide helps keep you and your baby healthy, it does not the need to visit your doctor.