Mothers focus on nutrition during pregnancy but the baby is still reliant on the lactating mother for nutrition while breastfeeding. There are increased nutrition requirements for breastfeeding mothers.
While breastfeeding it is important to get about 500 additional calories per day. Although there is no need to count calories, the mother may be extra hungry during this time. A breastfeeding diet should not include strict weight loss diets or restricting calories, even if the mother is anxious to loose the extra pregnancy weight. Don’t worry, breastfeeding naturally helps with weight loss.
The nutrition of breast milk will be regulated by the body but a lactating mothers diet should be a balanced to help the mother feel her best, giving her energy, increased milk supply, and keep her healthy.
Foods to Increase Milk
It is important to eat a variety of nutrient dense foods when you are breastfeeding as this will help increase milk supply. Some foods that are especially important and nutrient dense include:
- Protein - lean meats, eggs, beans, tofu, nuts and seeds
- Healthy Fats - fish, walnuts, olive oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds
- Water - Fluid requirements increase as your body is producing milk. It is important to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
Best Vegetables for Breastfeeding Mothers
A healthy diet always consists of plenty of fruit and vegetables but some are even better and some may give your baby gas or bloating.
The lactating mother diet changes the taste of the mothers milk. Eating a healthy diet now, will help the baby to accept healthy foods later in life. Studies show, when the breastfeeding mother’s diet is high in vegetables the child is more likely to have a diet high in vegetables later in life!
Orange root vegetables like sweet potatoes, winter squash, and carrots are high in vitamin A. The more vitamin A in the lactating mothers diet the more that will be present in the milk supply. It is an important nutrient for growth, development and immunity.
Leafy Greens are some of the most nutrient dense foods available. They are an excellent source of many important vitamin including, fiber, vitamin A, C, and K, iron and calcium. You don’t have to stick to salads to get your fill- try adding greens to pasta, soups, stir-fry, or sandwiches!
Nutrition Requirements for Breastfeeding Mothers
- Be cautious about supplements - some supplements contain stimulants or other additives that can be transferred to breastmilk. Always talk to you doctor before adding a new supplement to your routine.
- Multivitamins may be a good idea if you struggle to get a variety in your diet. You can continue taking your prenatal vitamin that will help supply the lactating mother with essential nutrients.
- If you are not taking a multivitamin, you can consider taking B vitamins. Vitamin B12 is especially important if the breastfeeding mother follows a vegetarian or vegan diet.
- Omega-3 (DHA) is found in fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, and algae. It is an important component to healthy brain development. Supplementing with an Omega-3 supplement is important if the mother does not consume enough of these foods in the diet.
Beware of how your baby reacts after you eat certain foods. What you eat affects what goes into your breast milk. If your baby is fussy or having digestion issues they could be sensitive to something you are eating.
Food allergies can sometimes be detected while the baby is still breastfeeding. Some of the most common foods that can cause distress include dairy, nuts, eggs, fish, caffeine, and spicy foods.
This article was written by Amanda Barnes, RDN.
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