Published on May 25, 2022 and last reviewed on Feb 06, 2023 - 4 min read
A nutritious and balanced diet for breastfeeding mothers is essential for newborns. Read the article below to understand the basics of breastfeeding nutrition.
A nutritious and balanced diet keeps you energetic and helps you make an ample amount of milk for your baby. Nutrition while breastfeeding is as important as during pregnancy. The phase of breastfeeding is a difficult period for all breastfeeding mothers. There are many things that a mother needs to plan. It is necessary to avoid certain foods as they may lead to some allergic reactions in your baby. On the other hand, supplements are essential for mothers while breastfeeding.
A breastfeeding mother needs adequate nutrition to promote milk supply for her newborn's growth and development. A mother needs to make healthy food choices and regular physical activity to keep herself healthy while breastfeeding. You should choose food from all groups, like fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein.
You may try the following diet or could make a dietary plan that best suits your choice:
You can make half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
You should take at least half your plate of whole grains.
You should include low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, or cheese.
You must have an adequate intake of proteins and may try to vary your protein intake.
Good drinking water is essential for everyone, but it becomes crucial during pregnancy and breastfeeding. You need more fluids while breastfeeding, so make sure you are drinking enough water to support your baby's needs.
If you are breastfeeding, you supply nutrients to your baby through breast milk to support their growth. It is worrisome for all mothers to plan a diet that could meet their needs appropriately.
You must seek a nutritious, balanced meal plan that includes protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. You should take a protein diet at least two to three times a day. Drinking plenty of water is beneficial for all mothers.
You also need to include an adequate amount of iron and calcium in your diet. Some good sources of iron include lentils, enriched cereals, leafy green vegetables, peas, and dried fruit, such as raisins. Iron-rich foods and foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, are also needed for a breastfeeding mother.
A mother needs extra iodine, and choline increases during the lactation period.
If you are not used to non-vegetarian food, you shall intake other sources of iron and zinc, like dried beans, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and dairy, in your diet. Additionally, you need a Vitamin B12 supplement to ensure your baby does not develop a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
It would be better to try eating a variety of foods while breastfeeding, as it will change the flavor of your breast milk for your baby. It would be helpful for you as well. You will expose your baby to a variety of tastes, which might help them to accept solid foods more quickly when they are introduced to them while weaning (introduction of the baby to solid foods).
Similar to pregnancy, you need to be careful while eating or drinking as you need to avoid the intake of certain foods to keep your baby happy and healthy.
You need to limit caffeine intake while you are breastfeeding. If you like drinking tea or coffee, you should take up to two cups a day as taking lots of caffeine can make your baby fussy or keep the baby awake.
Seafood for a breastfeeding mother is filled with proteins, vitamins, and minerals. However, it is best advised to carefully decide the amount and the type of seafood to consume as a breastfeeding mother. As it has been found that most fishes contain mercury (fish flesh), and there are chances that it can pass to the infant through breastfeeding. Mercury can have unfavorable effects on a breastfed infant’s brain and nervous system. It is best to keep the intake of seafood in balance.
Avoid Intake of Alcohol: It is best to avoid drinking alcohol when you are a breastfeeding mother. However, if you choose to drink alcohol, you may have a single alcoholic drink once in a while when your baby is at least three months old. Then, you should wait for at least four hours after having a drink before breastfeeding your baby.
While breastfeeding, it is best to cut down the intake of medications as much as you can. If you have certain conditions that need the daily requirement of prescribed medications, do consult your physician before beginning your breastfeeding. As simple as that, what you consume passes onto the infant through breastfeeding. Hence, it is a must to keep notes of each and every intake, from food to medications, as a mother, in order to prevent the baby’s health.
Avoid smoking and drugs.
It is best to avoid intake of high sugar foods like candies and cookies as they are empty calories, which could possibly lead to weight gain.
Yes, you may affect your baby with the food you choose to eat for yourself. Babies get the different flavors in the milk from the food you eat, and usually, they love the flavors of foods that come through your milk. However, sometimes, a baby may be sensitive to something you eat, like eggs or dairy products such as milk and cheese. It indicates that your baby has an allergy or sensitivity to something you ate. In such a case, you can watch your baby for the following symptoms:
Green stools with mucus or blood.
Rash, eczema, dermatitis, or dry skin.
Wheezing or coughing.
If you are experiencing any of these signs, it does not mean your baby is allergic to your milk but to only something you ate. You may need to stop eating that food or eat in less quantity for some time. You might be able to continue eating it after a few months with better results.
Like your pregnancy, while breastfeeding, you also need a healthy diet and regular exercise, and certain precautions to support your baby’s nutritional needs for their growth. Your doctor may recommend some multivitamins and mineral supplements in your routine as it is beneficial to include all the essential nutrients in your diet.
Last reviewed at:
06 Feb 2023 - 4 min read
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