The benefits of breastfeeding have been proven by numerous studies, as you can see in The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. Nursing your baby is good for both of you, so if you can do it, you definitely should. However, to ensure that both of you stay healthy and happy, you’ll need to adopt a diet filled with specific nutrients.
Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers: What to Eat?
Your diet while breastfeeding should contain about 500 calories more than your average healthy meal plan. This is necessary as your body will expend more energy to produce milk.
In a day you should consume:
- No less than 3 servings of fruit (1 serving is ½ cup cut fruit)
- No less than 4 servings of veggies (same)
- About 3 servings of dairy (1 serving is a cup of milk or 1 ½ ounces cheese)
- 3 servings of lean protein (1 serving is 4 ounces of meat/fish, or 2 tablespoons nut butter, or 1 ounce of nuts, or ½ cup beans)
You also can and definitely should allow yourself an occasional treat. Indulge yourself with a favorite treat once every 2-3 days. However, keep your dietary requirements and the baby’s health in mind. For example, nursing women are advised to abstain from Coke as caffeine in it affects the nutritional value of milk.
If you are trying to lose weight while breastfeeding, you’ll need to develop your diet with the help of your doctor. However, it’s very important to be realistic about your expectations. You also need to understand that shedding those pounds you gained while carrying your precious baby will be a slow and gradual process. Losing them too fast can be extremely harmful to both yourself and your child.
Therefore, go slow and steady while focusing on the health and happiness of your little one. You’ll also need to be very careful about using supplements to aid with weight loss after pregnancy. Consult your doctor about any pills and even superfoods you plan adding to your diet. It might be best to postpone taking them while breastfeeding. Instead, you can use these aids to boost your post-partum weight loss program when you are able to become a bit stricter with your diet.
Healthy Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers: Foods to Avoid
While there are some arguments about caffeine, spicy foods, and some other products, none of them have shown to be actively dangerous for babies. Therefore, you should be safe when eating them in moderation and as a part of a well-balanced breastfeeding diet.
However, some products you definitely need to avoid. These include:
It gets into your breast milk immediately, so abstain unless you want your baby to have their first shot while still in nappies.
- Shark, king mackerel, tilefish, and swordfish.
Fish and seafood, in general, are very good for both pregnant and nursing women. These products provide you with omega 3 essential fatty acids that are extremely beneficial for the baby’s brain development. However, those particular types of fish have a very high risk of being contaminated with mercury. Avoid them and any seafood that you aren’t 100% sure in the safety of.
- The ‘dirty dozen’ among fruits and veggies.
The term ‘dirty dozen’ means that these particular common products have a high risk of contamination with pesticides, insecticides, and other nasties you and your baby should stay away from. The fruits and veggies themselves are safe and very nutritious. However, you’ll need to buy them organic or only from the brands you are completely sure of. Local farmers markets are a good source of safe produce if you are confident in the farmers’ honesty.
Like any other healthy meal plan, your diet for breastfeeding also shouldn’t contain any junk food. Even if those products aren’t outright dangerous, they don’t offer any benefits to you and your baby.