Breast milk contains everything a baby needs for the first 6 months of life. Additionally, the fat and calorie content of breast milk changes both during a feeding and over time to accommodate your baby’s needs
Did you know that breast milk is chock-full of nourishing nutrients and protective compounds that are essential for your baby’s development. This is why breast milk is known as the “gold standard” for infant nutrition and is often referred to as liquid gold.”
Not surprisingly, it takes a lot of energy to produce this liquid gold and your needs for many nutrients increase to meet these demands.
It’s so, so important to choose nutrient-dense, nourishing foods to support your breast milk production. Plus, eating healthy foods postpartum can help you feel better both mentally and physically — and who doesn’t want that?–
This article explains everything you need to know about eating a healthy diet while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding may help reduceTrusted Source your risk of developing certain medical conditions later in life, including heart disease and diabetes. It may also relieve stress and help you feel more connected to your new baby.
Learn the good benefits of breastmilk
Mama you may be wondering why it’s so important that you follow a heathy, nutrient-dense diet while breastfeeding.
In addition to promoting your overall health, a healthy diet is essential for ensuring that your baby is getting all the nutrients they need to develop.
With the exception of vitamin D, breast milk contains everything your baby needs for proper development during the first 6 months.
Vitamin D is key. It’s essential for healthy bones, for both you and your baby, and we get most of it from sun exposure. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of sunshine, especially during winter, your body may struggle to make enough vitamin D so supplements are recommended2 – your healthcare professional can advise you.
What foods should You avoid while breastfeeding?
Mamas there is good news, apart from limiting how much oily fish you eat, there aren’t any specific foods to avoid when breastfeeding your baby. Caffeine and alcohol are also fine, within sensible limits .–
And unless you are allergic to peanuts yourself, there is no reason to avoid peanut-based foods while breastfeeding. In fact, the latest research suggests that if you eat peanuts while breastfeeding and introduce them to your infant’s diet within his first year, he is less likely to develop a sensitivity to them.4
Group 1 nutrients
Here are the group 1 nutrients and how to find them in some common food sources:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): fish, pork, seeds, nuts, beans
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): cheese, almonds, nuts, red meat, oily fish, eggs
- Vitamin B6: chickpeas, nuts, fish, poultry, potatoes, bananas, dried fruit
- Vitamin B12: shellfish, liver, yogurt, oily fish, nutritional yeast, eggs, crab, shrimp
- Choline: eggs, beef liver, chicken liver, fish, peanuts
- Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, organ meats, eggs
- Vitamin D: cod liver oil, oily fish, some mushrooms, fortified foods
- Selenium: Brazil nuts, seafood, turkey, whole wheat, seeds
- Iodine: dried seaweed, cod, milk, iodized salt
Group 2 nutrients
Here are the group 2 nutrients and some common food sources:
- Folate: beans, lentils, leafy greens, asparagus, avocados
- Calcium: You should also ensure you’re getting enough calcium, as this is depleted when breastfeeding.3 Aim for four servings a day from dairy foods, such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, or non-dairy sources, including nuts, tofu, sesame seeds and leafy green vegetables. A serving could be half a cup of green veggies or a small 50 g (1.5 oz) piece of cheese. milk, yogurt, cheese, leafy greens, legumes
- Iron: red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, green vegetables, dried fruit
- Copper: shellfish, whole grains, nuts, beans, organ meats, potatoes
- Zinc: oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, dairy
But if your overall diet does not provide sufficient nutrients, it can affect both the quality of your breast milk and your own health. I really want you to have a good quality breast milk. This is what is going to give your baby the best in his developing stages.
ResearchTrusted Source shows that breast milk is made up of 87 percent water, 3.8 percent fat, 1.0 percent protein, and 7 percent carbohydrate and provides 60 to 75 kcal/100ml.
Unlike baby formula, the calorie content and composition of breast milk varies. Breast milk changes during each feeding and throughout your lactation period, in order to meet the needs of your baby.
At the beginning of a feeding, the milk is more watery and usually quenches the baby’s thirst. The milk that comes later (hindmilk) is thicker, higher in fat and more nutritious.
In fact according to an older 2005 studyTrusted Source, this milk may contain 2 to 3 times as much fat as milk from the beginning of a feeding, and 7 to 11 more calories per ounce. Therefore, to get to the most nutritious milk, it’s important that your baby empties one breast before switching to the other.
Supplements can add to your quality of nutrition
Taking certain supplements can help replenish your stores of certain vitamins and minerals.
There are a number of reasons why new moms may be low in certain nutrients, including not eating the right foods and the increased energy demands of breast milk production, along with looking after your baby.
Taking supplements can help boost your intake of important nutrients. But it’s important to be weary when choosing supplements, since many contain herbs and other additives that aren’t safe for breastfeeding moms.
A multivitamin can be a great choice for increasing your intake of important vitamins and minerals.
It’s common for women to be deficient in vitamins and minerals after delivery and researchTrusted Source shows that deficiencies don’t discriminate, affecting moms in both high- and low-income settings.
Vitamin B-12 is a super important water-soluble vitamin that is essential for your baby’s health, as well as your own health, during breastfeeding.
Plus, many women — especially those following mostly plant-based dietsTrusted Source, those who’ve had gastric bypass surgeryTrusted Source, and women who are on certain medications (such as acid reflux drugs) — are already at an increased risk of having low B-12 levels.
If you fit into one of these categories, or if you feel that you don’t eat enough B-12 rich foods like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and fortified foods, then taking a B-complex or B-12 supplement is a good idea.
Keep in mind that a most high-quality multivitamin and prenatal vitamins contain enough B-12 to cover your needs.
Omega-3 fats are all the rage nowadays, and for good reason. These fats, naturally found in fatty fish and algae, play essential roles in both maternal and fetal health.
For example, the omega-3 fat DHA is critical for the development of your baby’s nervous system, skin, and eyes. Plus, concentration of this important fat in breast milk largely depends on your intake levels.
What’s more, researchTrusted Source shows that babies who are fed breast milk with high levels of DHA have better vision and neurodevelopment outcomes.
Because breast milk concentrations of omega-3s reflect your intake of these important fats, it’s essential that you get enough. We recommend that nursing mothers take in 250 to 375 mg daily of DHA plus EPA, another important omega-3 fat.
Although eating 8 to 12 ounces of fish, especially fatty fish like salmon and sardines, can help you reach the recommended intake levelsTrusted Source, taking a fish oil or krill oil supplement is a convenient way to cover your daily needs.
Vitamin D is only found in a few foods, like fatty fish, fish liver oils, and fortified products. Your body can also produce it from sunlight exposure, though it depends on many factors, like skin color and where you live.
ResearchTrusted Source shows that it plays many important roles in your body and is essential for immune function and bone health.
Vitamin D is usually only present in low amounts in breast milk, especially when sun exposure is limited.
Therefore, supplementing with 400 IU of vitamin D per day is recommended for breast-fed babies and babies consuming less than 1 liter of formula per day, starting during the first few days of life and continuing until they are 12 months of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
According to researchTrusted Source, supplementing with 6,400 IU daily can help supply your baby with adequate amounts of vitamin D through breast milk alone. Interestingly, this amount is much higher than the current recommended vitamin D intake of 600 IU for breastfeeding moms.
Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common amongst breastfeeding women. And deficiency can lead to negative health outcomes, including an increased riskTrusted Source of postpartum depression. That’s why supplementing with this vitamin is recommended.
Ask your healthcare provider for specific dosing recommendations based on your current vitamin D levels.–
Drink plenty of water
In addition to being hungrier than usual while breastfeeding, you may feel thirstier as well.
When your baby latches onto your breast, your oxytocin levels increase. This causes your milk to start flowing. This also stimulates thirst and helps ensure that you stay properly hydrated while feeding your baby.
It’s important to note that your hydration needs will vary depending on factors like activity levels and dietary intake. There’s no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to how much fluid you need during breastfeeding.
As a rule of thumb, you should always drink when you are thirsty and until you have quenched your thirst.
But if you feel very tired, faint, or as if your milk production is decreasing, you may need to drink more water. The best way to tell if you are drinking enough water is the color and smell of your urine.
If it is dark yellow and has a strong smell, that’s a sign that you’re dehydrated and need to<a href=”http://- <a href=”https://www.tkqlhce.com/click-100174660-14068999″> <img src=”https://www.lduhtrp.net/image-100174660-14068999″ width=”468″ height=”60″ alt=”” border=”0″/> drink more water.
Foods and drinks to avoid while breastfeeding
Although you may have heard otherwise, it’s safe to eat just about any food while breastfeeding, unless you have an allergy to a specific food.
And, although some flavors from food, spices or beverages may change the taste of your breast milk, researchTrusted Source shows it’s unlikely that this will impact your baby’s feeding time or make them fussy.
Another common misconception is that “gassy” foods like cauliflower and cabbage will cause gassiness in your baby, too. Although these foods may make you gassy, the gas-promoting compounds do not transfer to breast milk, per this 2017 researchTrusted Source.
In summary, most foods and drinks are safe during breastfeeding, but there are a few that should be limited or avoided. If you think something may be impacting your baby negatively, ask your healthcare provider for advice.
About 1 percentTrusted Source of the caffeine you consume is transferred to breast milk, and research says it takes babies much longer to metabolize caffeine. Drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee have not been shown to cause harm, but they may affect the baby’s sleep.
Therefore, it’s recommended that breastfeeding women limit their coffee intake to about 2 to 3 cups per day. It’s a bummer, we know, but at least some coffee is allowed, right?(Paid link)
The AAP suggests no more than 0.5 grams of alcohol per kilogram of body weight, which for a 60-kilogram (132-pound) mother, equals 2 ounces of liquor, 8 ounces of wine, or 2 beers.
Many breastfeeding mums choose to stop drinking alcohol. However, occasional light drinking while breastfeeding has not been shown to have any adverse effects on babies.8 Alcohol is best avoided until your baby is over three months old, though, and then enjoyed as an occasional treat, such as a small (125 ml/4.2 fl oz) glass of wine.
If you do have an alcoholic drink, make sure you allow at least a couple of hours (2) for the alcohol to go through your system before your next breastfeed.9 Alternatively, you could have a small drink while you’re actually breastfeeding your baby, as by the time the alcohol is in your system, he will have finished feeding. Or for total peace of mind, if you’re planning to have an alcoholic drink you could express and store milk beforehand and give that to your baby for his next feed.
Bear in mind that alcohol can temporarily reduce your milk yield,8 so if you do have a drink your baby may seem hungrier and want to feed more.
Although it’s perfectly find to enjoy an alcoholic beverage as a breastfeeding mom, it’s best to wait at least 2 hours after drinking to breastfeed your baby.
Although uncommon. Some babies may be allergic to cow’s milk. And if your baby has a cow’s milk allergy, it’s important that you exclude all dairy products from your diet.
Up to 1 percentTrusted Source of breastfed infants are allergic to cow’s milk protein from their mother’s diet, and may develop rashes, eczema, diarrhea, bloody stools, vomiting or baby colic.
Your healthcare provider can give you advice on how long to exclude dairy from your diet for, and when it’s safe to reintroduce dairy.
Breastfeeding and weight loss: Lets learn the facts
You might be tempted to lose weight quickly after delivery, but weight loss takes time and it’s important to be kind to your body during this transition. After having my babies, I hated to look at myself in the mirror. I wanted to loose my weight right away.As time went by I realize that the weight did not come one time therefore loosing it would not be that simple.
With the many hormonal changes that take place during breastfeeding and the calorie demands of making breast milk, you may have a bigger appetite during breastfeeding.
Restricting calories too much, especially during the first few months of breastfeeding, may decrease your milk supply and much-needed energy<a href=”http://- <a href=”https://www.tkqlhce.com/click-100174660-14068999″> <img src=”https://www.lduhtrp.net/image-100174660-14068999″ width=”468″ height=”60″ alt=”” border=”0″/> levels.(Paid link)
Fortunately, breastfeeding alone has been shownTrusted Source to promote weight loss, especially when continued for 6 months or longer. (That said, losing weight during breastfeeding doesn’t happen for everyone!)
Losing approximately 1.1 pounds (0.5 kilograms) per weekTrusted Source through a combination of a healthy diet and exercise should not affect your milk supply or milk composition, assuming that you are not undernourished to begin with.
All breastfeeding women, no matter their weight, should consume adequate calories. But if you’re underweight, it’s likely that you’ll be more sensitive to calorie restriction.
For this reason, it’s essential that women with less body weight consume more calories to avoid a reduction in milk supply.
All in all, remember that losing weight after delivery is a marathon, not a sprint. It took months to put on the weight for a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby, and it may take you months to lose it — and that’s okay.
The most important thing to remember when trying to lose pregnancy weight is that restrictive diets are not good for overall health and don’t work for long-term weight loss.
Breastfeeding is no doubt hard work! Your body requires more calories and nutrients to keep you and your baby nourished and healthy.
If you’re not eating enough calories or nutrient-rich foods, this can negatively affect the quality of your breast milk. It can also be detrimental for your own health.
It’s more important than ever to eat a variety of healthy, nutritious foods and limit processed foods. Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol consumption, and stick to the recommended intakes to keep your baby healthy. Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you are getting the results you need for your breastfeeding journey. I wish you every success. If you are a male I encourage you to support the woman in your life who is breastfeeding.
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