You just spent the last nine months taking care with the foods and drinks that you did (and didn’t) put into your body. Now that you’re breastfeeding, you will have a lot more freedom with what you eat and drink, but it’s important to continue to eat a healthy diet. Eating the right foods will provide you and your little one a nutritious diet while avoiding foods that can potentially cause problems will keep your baby’s tummy happy.
Dietary Recommendations for Nursing Moms
Your body will make breastmilk for your new little one based on “supply and demand.” The more milk your baby drinks, the more milk your body will make. It makes this milk regardless of what you eat or drink. Moms all around the world, who eat differing cultural foods, successfully breastfeed. Because your body is taking nutrients from your body for the milk, if you don’t eat a healthy diet that replaces these nutrients, your health may suffer.
Experts recommend eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein. Continue to take your prenatal vitamins to ensure that you and your baby get the necessary nutrients you both need. Studies show that the taste of breastmilk varies based on the mom’s diet. So, eating a wide variety of different foods will help expose your baby to new and different tastes.
Caloric Intake Needs for Breastfeeding
Your body will burn about 500 calories a day during breastfeeding. The American Dietetic Association recommends that if you’re exclusively breastfeeding or pumping, that you increase your pre-pregnancy calories by this amount to ensure your body has enough fuel to keep up your milk supply and increase your energy. Ideas include snacking on whole wheat crackers with cheese, apples with peanut butter or hard-boiled eggs with carrots and hummus.
How to Eat and Drink the Right Amounts for Successful Breastfeeding
Your life probably revolves around caring for your new little one, which leaves you with little time to care for your own needs in the early newborn days. Because you are probably so focused on feeding your baby, it can be easy to neglect feeding yourself. Set up a breastfeeding area that is stocked with healthy snacks and water bottles to keep yourself well-fed and hydrated. At mealtime, eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed, to stay within a healthy calorie range. Aim to drink at least 12 eight-ounce glasses of water a day to keep up your milk supply and keep yourself hydrated.
Avoid These Foods That Can Cause Problems While Breastfeeding
While you can definitely relax your “no food” list that you kept while you were pregnant, which means that you can enjoy sushi once more, there are some foods that can irritate your little one. Some of these foods include:
- Chocolate, which can cause your little one to have runny stool
- Dairy, which can cause fussiness after nursing, sleep issues and/or eczema
- Garlic, which can give your milk an unpleasant taste
- Citrus, which can cause diaper rashes, spitting up and fussiness due to its high acidity levels
- Peanuts, which can cause an allergic reaction if you have a family history of severe peanut allergies
Experts recommend not regularly drinking alcohol while you are nursing, but it’s okay to indulge in the occasional glass of wine. Try to time your drinking soon after you finish breastfeeding to give it time to leave your system before your little one wants to nurse again.
Foods That Can Help Increase Your Milk Supply
If you are suffering from a low milk supply, the most important thing to do is to figure out why. Improper latch, a severe tongue tie in your baby or some medications that you take can decrease your milk supply. Resolve the problem and pump after each feeding with a high-quality breast pump to help build up your supply. Most insurance providers will cover the cost of a breast pump at no out-of-pocket cost for you.
In addition to correcting the problem, regularly nursing and pumping, there are several foods that you can eat that can help increase your milk supply. These foods include:
- Oatmeal, which naturally contains saponins that can stimulate milk-producing hormones
- Fenugreek, available in a capsule or tea, has been used to increase milk production for hundreds of years
- Brewer’s or nutritional yeast, which contains phytoestrogens that stimulate milk production
- Alfalfa, available in pill form, which naturally stimulates the pituitary glands responsible for the hormones that create breastmilk
You don’t need to worry about every morsel that passes your lips now that your little one is born. By eating well-balanced meals (with an occasional treat), drinking plenty of water and taking your prenatal vitamins, you will provide your little one with everything that he or she nutritionally needs while preventing your own health from suffering.