Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to give babies the nutrition they need, but you need the right food and drinks, too! Here are some tips to ensure you have the right amount of nutrients for optimal breastfeeding nutrition so you and your baby can stay healthy.
What Are the Best Foods for Breastfeeding Nutrition?
When breastfeeding, always eat a vitamin-rich and balanced diet to stay healthy. That way you’ll be able to produce enough breast milk for feeding your baby. Your body needs about 400 to 500 more calories per day for lactation, but this doesn’t mean 500 calories from added sugar! Make sure to eat whole foods to stay strong and healthy.
Many women naturally lose weight while breastfeeding, and don’t really need to make any major dietary changes or calorie restrictions. If you are not one of the lucky few who bounces back to their pre-pregnancy size really quickly, take heart! It takes most of us more time. Be healthy, take your vitamins, stay active, but we don’t recommend crash diets and ridiculously fast weight loss during this time.
While there’s nothing wrong with losing weight after giving birth, remember: your body was preparing for having a baby for nine months. It will also need nine months to fully recover. So give yourself time to regain your old shape. Cutting out nutrients is not the right thing for breastfeeding nutrition. Your body needs fat, proteins, and carbohydrates for producing breast milk.
Which Foods Should I Avoid While Breastfeeding?
Overall, most foods are fine to eat while you’re breastfeeding, and you might need more calories than usual to keep your supply up.
An old wives tale is that your diet influences the child’s digestion, and many women still believe that certain foods cause flatulence in their baby and therefore refrain from eating them. But breast milk is made from blood, not your stomach contents. So it doesn’t matter if you eat onions or coleslaw. If your baby is really gassy, it’s usually related to something else.
Sometimes your doctor might advise you to avoid certain foods if they suspect your baby might have a specific food intolerance or allergy. You might even have to avoid a few trigger foods like dairy for a few weeks if your baby has colic or acid reflux. To rule out food intolerance or allergies, for example, consult your pediatrician. Do not exclude any items from breastfeeding nutrition on your own.
Some people try to avoid caffeine or alcohol, but in moderate doses, it’s perfectly fine to have morning coffee or a glass of wine. You might feel like you need an extra caffeine boost on a sleepless night!
Is There a Breastfeeding Nutrition Diet I Should Follow?
A balanced diet during breastfeeding isn’t that different than a normal nutritious eating plan. Choose whole-grain products as well as fresh vegetables and fruits. Many mothers get hungry while breastfeeding and always have a sliced apple or a fresh banana within reach. Lactation bites are also a healthy snack for breastfeeding mommies. Ask a friend or family member to prepare them for you.
Here’s a great recipe for them!
Lactation Protein Bites
- 2 cups oats old-fashioned or instant are both fine!
- 3 tbsp brewer's yeast
- 1 cup nut butter peanut, almond, cashew butter are all great
- 1/2 cup honey can sub maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup flaxseeds
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- Add all ingredients (except chocolate chips) together in an electric mixing bowl and combine together.
- Once combined, stir in chocolate chips
- Roll into 2" balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and enjoy!
- Store bites in an airtight container (a large Ziploc bag is great) in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You can also store longer in the freezer.
Also, don’t forget your proteins and healthy fats. Half an avocado with scrambled eggs is a perfect and easy lunch. A handful of almonds or walnuts are a highly recommended topping for your dinner salad.
What Do I Drink for Optimal Breastfeeding Nutrition?
Breastfeeding women also need more fluids. Your body needs to produce a sufficient amount of breast milk, so it’s important to drink enough during the months you’re breastfeeding.
Throughout the day you should drink 2.5-3 liters (around to 100 ounces). If you don’t drink enough, you can significantly impair milk production.
Unsweetened mild fruits and herbal teas are optimal. Many midwives also recommend so-called breastfeeding teas with anise and fennel to stimulate milk production. Peppermint and sage tea, on the other hand, inhibit milk production. Mild juice spritzers are quick thirst quenchers and provide energy. Carbonated water is great, but not as hydrating as still water, so opt for still over sparkling.
You should drink some drinks sparingly when breastfeeding. Caffeinated drinks, black and green tea can make your baby restless if you overdo it. When you’re not used to drinking coffee, it can also affect your blood pressure.
Can I Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?
While breastfeeding, there are a few things you should really do without. These include nicotine and drugs of all kinds. Only consume alcohol in very small quantities, and wait until your child is older and no longer exclusively breastfed. You might want to try some delicious mocktails while you’re breastfeeding!
That means a small glass of wine to toast with at your girlfriend’s wedding is perfectly okay. But you shouldn’t regularly drink alcoholic beverages. If you do choose to have a few drinks, you can use a system like MilkScreen that will measure the alcohol in your breastmilk so you know whether or not it’s safe to feed that to your baby. You can always “pump and dump” if you need to.
In addition, you should wait at least two hours between drinking alcohol and breastfeeding. Many women don’t drink alcohol at all during the months of breastfeeding, as the risk of irreparable damage to the child is simply too great for them. La Leche League, for example, states: “Alcohol abuse (excessive drinking) by the mother can result in slow weight gain or failure to thrive in her baby. The baby may sleep excessively, or may not suck effectively leading to decreased milk intake. The baby may even suffer from delayed motor development.
Can I Still Take My Medication While Breastfeeding?
Just like cigarettes and alcohol, medication can also affect a nursing child. However, Dr. Thomas Hale states in his 2017 book Medications and Mother’s Milk that “most drugs do not enter milk in levels that are hazardous to a breastfed infant”.
So be careful that the medicine that causes no harm to your baby. Unfortunately, many doctors and pharmacists aren’t sure which medications are safe for breastfeeding. They rely on the package insert, which almost always cautions against prescribing the medication to pregnant or lactating mothers. To find medication safe for breastfeeding, it is important to check reliable sources for up-to-date research-based information.
The Infant Risk Center of Texas Tech University has a huge database for medication that is safe to take during pregnancy and lactation. Another great source is LactMed®.
Breastfeeding Diet and Nutrition: You Can Do It!
Figuring out the right breastfeeding diet to boost your milk supply can be challenging at times! Be sure to get advice from family members and friends on FamilyApp who might have fantastic tips and advice.