It is important for mothers to continue their healthy eating habits even after their baby is born – particularly those who plan on breastfeeding.
After childbirth, a lot of the nutrients a mother consumes go straight to producing breast milk. Breast milk is designed to provide the right nutrition and protection for your baby even in times of hardship and famine. This means that the mother’s health may suffer if she is not eating enough nutrients for both her and her baby.
Here are nine tips for keeping a diet for breastfeeding mothers full of the right nutrition.
- Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
The recommendations for nursing mums are pretty much the same as anyone trying to eat healthily. You should choose whole foods with a balance of protein, vegetables, fruits and grains. Typically, nursing mothers need more calories than non-breastfeeding women. You should eat normal-size meals until you’re satisfied and choose healthy snacks whenever possible.
- Choose Quality Protein
Make sure you eat a good, balanced diet with quality protein. On average, breastfeeding mums need about 185g of protein each day. Always choose nutritious options like grass-fed beef, wild salmon, nuts and seeds.
- Grab Fresh Fruits and Veggies
Try to eat at least 2 portions of fruit and 3 portions of vegetables every day. Make sure you’re eating a mix of different fruit and vegetables — a good way to diversify is to eat produce in a variety of colours. One mix could include spinach or kale, bananas, blueberries, oranges and apples.
- Go for Whole Grains
Breastfeeding mums should try to eat around 230g of grains per day. Try to choose as many whole grains as possible, such as whole-wheat bread, quinoa and brown rice.
- Avoid Processed Foods
Nursing mums should try to stay away from processed foods altogether. Fizzy drinks, junk food and sweets may taste great, but they’re just empty calories. Don’t worry if you slip up, though. If a mum has some junk food it is no reason to wean or skip a feeding. In fact, your body is pretty adept at producing breast milk that meets your baby’s needs.
- Choose Organic
You should also minimise your exposure to contaminants in your food while you’re nursing. Pesticides and chemicals make their way into your breast milk. To avoid this, choose organic foods whenever possible.
- Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration is vital to nursing mums. In fact, your ability to supply milk can be impaired if you’re dehydrated. Try to drink at least 2.3 to 3 litres of fluids daily. Be wary of consuming too much fruit juice because these can contain added sugar. Instead, stick to water whenever possible.
- Cut Down on Alcohol and Caffeine
Nursing mums can drink on average the equivalent of two cups of coffee (or other caffeinated beverage) per day. Any more than that can cause your baby to become irritable and contribute to sleep problems. A diet for breastfeeding mothers can occasionally include an alcoholic drink, but mums should wait at least four hours before breastfeeding again, just to be safe. When you do indulge in the bubbly, remember to stay hydrated and never drink on an empty stomach.
- Keep Taking Your Prenatal Vitamins
Nursing mums should take a multivitamin. You can even find some great ones on the market specifically made for lactating women. Mums should try to look for a brand that includes vitamin D because many women are deficient.
While nursing, be sure to keep an eye on your baby because foods such as dairy, wheat, corn and soy can cause gas and bloating. If your baby shows these symptoms, keep a food diary to see if you can find the culprit.
* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.