What Should You Eat While Breastfeeding
You’ve probably received a ton of advice on the do’s and don’ts ever since you announced your pregnancy. And now that you finally have your newborn in your arms, you’re likely to get a load of advice as well.
While you might get tips on getting adequate sleep and checking to see if your baby needs to be changed, there’s no doubt you’ll appreciate any advice on breastfeeding. After all, it’s not just about feeding your baby, what you eat matters as well.
The Importance of Eating Healthy While Breastfeeding
You’ve most likely heard the term “balanced diet” thrown about. But what exactly constitutes a balanced diet when it concerns breastfeeding?
You probably stuck to a select group of foods while you were pregnant, but do those remain the same once the baby is out?
Your baby will rely on your breast milk for the first six months of its life. As such, it’s important to eat healthy to make sure they get all the right nutrients.
Eating healthy isn’t just beneficial for baby; it helps you as well. Breastfeeding demands so much of you so you need all the energy you can get.
Plus, eating all the right foods can help you lose pregnancy weight faster.
The Breastfeeding Diet
What constitutes a breastfeeding diet?
The process of milk production demands so much from your body. And the act of breastfeeding itself requires an about 500 calories a day.
Apart from the energy demands, hormonal changes might increase your appetite. This might tempt you to lower your calorie intake but doing so might decrease milk production and energy levels.
Although you need more calories, it’s not recommended you get them from processed foods. Apart from being rich in calories, they also contain added sugars and unhealthy fats.
You will need more nutrients while breastfeeding to fulfill both your needs and that of your baby. And since nutrients are transferred into breast milk, it’s important to vary your diet.
Here are some suggestions:
fruits and vegetables – berries, broccoli, cabbage, kale, tomatoes
fish and seafood – salmon, sardines, seaweed, shellfish
meat – beef, lamb, pork, and organ meats like liver
nuts and seeds – almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts
others – dark chocolate, eggs, potatoes, oats, quinoa
You will feel a lot thirstier than usual when breastfeeding because of the increased production of the hormone oxytocin. It then follows that you should drink enough water to meet the requirements.
Since there is no set required daily intake of water, drink when you are thirsty and until that thirst is quenched.
It’s also best to increase your water intake if you feel tired or find that your milk production has decreased.
You can also tell if you’ve drank too much or too little water by the color and smell of your urine. If it’s dark yellow in color with a strong smell, you didn’t drink enough and need to drink more.
Being a mother is about making sacrifices for the health of your child. However, this doesn’t mean complete abandonment of foods you loved to eat prior to getting pregnant.
You can still enjoy them but in moderation. More focus should be put on eating healthy while breastfeeding.
It’s also good to keep in mind that what you put in your mouth affects the quality of your breast milk. For instance, spices or flavors can be reflected in breast milk.
There are a few things you should consume with caution while breastfeeding, and these include:
coffee – about 1% of the caffeine you consume is transferred to breast milk and it may affect your baby’s sleep, plus babies take longer to metabolize caffeine
alcohol – like caffeine, alcohol can get into breast milk and since it takes about one to two hours to clear each unit of alcohol, you might have to wait a few hours before breastfeeding your baby.
What you eat affects both you and your baby. So make sure to eat healthy and nutritious foods.