Breastfeeding is one of the most precious and natural ways to nourish your little one. You can provide essential nutrients to your baby for his or her optimal development and growth. Besides your baby’s health, you will take care of yourself. Because diet for breastfeeding mothers fuels their bodies, the nutritional needs you receive from food will help you produce breast milk for your baby.
Most of the time, mothers are looking for diet lists for both losing weight and staying healthy. In this guide, we will try to help you find the nourishment you need during your most special time.
Balanced Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers
We listed nine suggestions so that you can have a balanced diet while breastfeeding. Follow the instructions and support both yourself and your baby!
Meet your increased energy demands with calories.
Did you know that breastfeeding requires extra energy because you feed both yourself and your little one within the same body with the same food? For instance, you need an additional 500–700 calories compared to your pre-pregnancy calorie needs. This additional energy, or calories, is important for you to support your body and health. In addition, these calories will help you provide milk to your baby.
But it is important to keep a balance so that you can avoid excessive calorie consumption. Because, as you may guess, you may have a chance to gain unwanted weight. Therefore, to meet your energy needs during the day, you should focus on nutrient-dense foods.
Choose nutrient-dense foods.
It is essential to choose nutrient-dense foods in breastfeeding It is essential to choose nutrient-dense foods in breastfeeding mothers’ diets. For example, you should choose unprocessed foods rich in minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. You should include several kinds of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Your body will get the necessary nutrients from these foods. And you will be sure that your breast milk is packed with essential nutrients for your baby.
Some of the nutrient-dense foods you can consume are meat, fish, poultry, beans, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. If you are looking for a list, you can ask your doctor.
A breastfeeding diet includes drinking water, of course. Because not only for mothers but also for all individuals, staying hydrated is essential for a healthy lifestyle. To maintain your body’s needs, you should try to drink 8 to 10 cups of water during the day.
Hydration also helps you maintain your milk supply. Moreover, drinking water prevents dehydration, which can cause severe symptoms such as feeling dizzy, tired, or sunken eyes. If you cannot drink enough water during the day, you may try herbal teas, and soups, or give your water an aroma with vegetables or fruits you like.
Proteins build blocks of cells for tissue growth and repair. And therefore, a diet during breastfeeding essentially contains protein. And thus, you should consume sufficient amounts of protein in order to support your health. Besides, consuming foods containing proteins will help you with breast milk production. You can include lean sources of protein like fish, eggs, poultry, nuts, seeds, or legumes in your meals. These foods are also rich in nutrients such as iron and zinc, which support immune systems.
Consume healthy fats.
Healthy fats are always included in the diet of breastfeeding mothers. Because these fats are essential both for you and your baby, For example, Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in brain development. So, you can include fish like salmon, trout, and sardines in your meals. On the other hand, you may be a vegetarian. In this case, you can consume foods that are rich in Omega-3s. These foods can be chia seeds, walnuts, avocados, and flaxseeds.
Other than fish and vegetarian foods, you can try consuming dark chocolate, cheese, eggs, virgin olive oil, yogurt, canola, peanuts, sunflower seeds, soybean and soymilk, tofu, etc. For a more detailed list, you can ask your doctor.
Focus on calcium-rich foods.
You need to consume calcium-rich foods to maintain strong bones and teeth. And it is not just for you; it is for your baby as well. You can include foods like dairy products, tofu, leafy greens, almonds, plant-based milk, bread with fortified flour, fish like sardines, and pilchards.
In addition to maintaining bone and tooth strength, calcium makes blood clot normally and regulates muscle contractions. Helping muscles include your heartbeat. If you are a vegan and cannot eat some of the foods we listed above, you should ask your doctor to give you the necessary amount of calcium per day.
Do not neglect iron.
Our body needs iron for its development and growth. The main reason your body needs iron is to create hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of your body. In addition to hemoglobin, iron creates myoglobin, which provides oxygen to muscles. Last but not least, iron is a great help for your body to make some hormones.
As you can understand, iron is essential for our bodies. And as a breastfeeding mom, you will need more iron to fulfill your stores during both pregnancy and childbirth. So, a diet for breastfeeding mothers includes iron-rich foods. There are foods like poultry, fish, lean red meat, fortified cereals, and dark leafy greens. You should consume vitamin C sources together with iron to enhance iron absorption.
Take Vitamin D.
To build and maintain healthy bones, your body needs vitamin D. You may wonder why we already have calcium in our diet and why we need vitamin D for our bones. Here is the answer: if your body does not have a sufficient amount of vitamin D, it cannot absorb calcium properly. In addition, vitamin D supports your immune health, brain cell activity, and muscle functions. In your breastfeeding diet plan, you should include vitamin D so that your baby gets enough vitamin D from your breast milk.
Unfortunately, this vitamin is not found naturally in many kinds of foods. However, you can consume some vitamin D-rich foods, such as fortified milk, fatty fish, or fortified cereal. In addition, direct sunlight is highly effective in providing vitamin D to your body. Lastly, you can ask your doctor to recommend a vitamin D supplement.
The diet for breastfeeding mothers is not hard if you are careful about what you eat. But at some points, bowel movements can be affected. To support your digestive system, you should include fiber-rich foods in your diet. During your diet, you should include grains, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. You can increase your fiber intake gradually to avoid digestive discomfort.
Special considerations for breastfeeding diet plans
Although we shared what your body will need during your diet, you should consider whether both your and your baby’s bodies are sensitive to certain foods. Here is a list of what you need to be careful of:
Food allergies and sensitivities
During your breastfeeding journey, your baby or your body may develop allergies or sensitivities to certain foods. The most common allergens for babies can be eggs, peanuts, soy, finned fish, wheat, cow’s milk, tree nuts, or shellfish. Therefore, try to be cautious while consuming these foods and watch the reactions of your little one’s body.
Maternal health conditions
You may have specific health conditions, such as celiac disease or diabetes. In this case, you should ask a professional about your diet while breastfeeding.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Whatever you consume affects your baby’s health, sleep patterns, and behavior. Therefore, you should limit your caffeine intake. Some sources of caffeine are tea, coffee, energy drinks, and chocolate. On the other hand, you may like to drink a couple of glasses of alcohol at certain times. In this case, try to moderate your breastfeeding sessions so that your baby is less affected.
Breastfeeding is the most beautiful way to nourish your baby while creating a bond between you and your little one. After giving birth, you may want to learn about diet and breastfeeding relationships. Whatever you eat will affect your baby’s health, sleep, or behavior. Therefore, you should have a balanced diet while avoiding certain foods. In this content, we tried to enlighten you on what kind of breastfeeding diet plan you should have.
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What foods should I avoid while breastfeeding?
You should be careful about consuming certain foods in your diet while breastfeeding. These foods can be listed as coffee, tea, garlic, alcohol, gassy foods such as broccoli and cabbage, parsley, and sage. For a detailed list, you should ask your healthcare provider so that you can create a detailed avoidance list.
What foods increase milk production during breastfeeding?
Some of the foods that are rich in nutrients and promote a healthy milk supply are:
- Fenugreek seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Ginger root