Your Diet while Breastfeeding
Always bear in mind that whatever you eat turns up in your breast milk. This means that what you eat while breastfeeding is not only important to you, but to your baby as well.
Your diet may be similar to that of the pregnancy period only that this has more relaxed rules. While what you eat forms your breast milk it is not the whole of it. The fat-protein-carbohydrate combination isn’t entirely dependent on what you eat. In case your diet lacks this basic combination, the body falls back on what is stored in its cells to produce balanced diet breast milk. Although this is the case, you still need to eat well-balanced diet foods to remain healthy.
You need to consume a reasonable amount of calories per day because milk production burns about 500 calories per day. Unless recommended otherwise, you may need uptake of 500 calories per day to match what you are burning already. This will help you against depleting your body reserves, which can have adverse effects on your short and long-term health.
When breastfeeding, you need to have a nutritious diet that will also positively impact on your child’s pickiness when you begin weaning. Your diet should, therefore, contain the following foods:
- Small amounts of high-fat foods
- 1 or more servings of foods rich in Iron
- 2 servings of vitamin C
- 2-3 servings per week of Omega 3s (like fish and eggs)
- 3-4 servings of green and yellow leafy vegetables or fruits
- 3 or more servings of whole grain and carbohydrates
- 5 servings of Calcium
- 3 servings of proteins
- Daily prenatal vitamins
This should be taken daily, approximately 8 cups per day. Water helps in the recovery after birth and should be taken in plenty. Aim at taking a cup before every nursing session. Failing to take enough water can cause UTIs, fatigue, and constipation.
While breastfeeding, avoid the following foods:
High-mercury fish: These fish include shark, mackerel, tilefish and even tuna.
High-fat dairy and meat: opt for lower fat content animal products because chemicals used such as pesticides are stored in animal fat. You can also choose organic ones in case you need high-fat animal products since producers are known not to use antibiotics, growth hormones or other chemicals.
Processed foods: avoid processed foods that have an almost endless list of additives. Check the labels well before deciding on which food to take.
Excessive caffeine: this causes jitters, sleeplessness, and irritation. Less quantity of caffeine can help you, especially in those sleepless months.
While avoiding the above foods, you may now consider eating raw fish, unpasteurized soft cheese, and red meat.
You love alcohol?
This is the moment you may be missing that wine you love. Don’t hold back because alcohol and beer are safe while nursing. However, a few tips for going ahead to take.
- Drink only after nursing the baby to allow alcohol metabolism.
- Reduce the drink to the bare minimum per week. Avoid heavy drinking as this distorts your sense of judgment as well as affecting the baby’s responsiveness and sucking ability.
- Test the milk using the milkscreen and if it is positive, don’t breastfeed, rather use the frozen breastmilk you have stored.
Watch out for the following foods
When nursing, tread carefully on the following foods:
- Sugar substitutes: some sugar substitutes such as Sweet n’ Low (saccharine) should be avoided. There are safe choices like Stevia, Nuctresses, Sunett, and Splenda.
- Certain herbs: ask your doctor before using herbal medications or supplements. This is because there is little research on how these affect you during the lactation period. Adhere to the known varieties, avoiding herbals such as herbal tea or breastmilk brew.
- Non-organic foods: these minimize the amount of chemicals that may find their way to the baby through breast milk. Organic foods such as fruits, veggies, meat, and eggs are very useful during breastfeeding.
Watch your baby out for
Modify your diet in case your baby rejects certain flavors such garlic or strong spices. There is also talk of cabbages, broccoli, beans, onions or cauliflower causing discomfort for the baby. However, you should check and find out as the reactions could be the usual baby reactions.
Allergies in breastfed babies
Few babies, like 3 out of 100, become allergic to their mother’s diets. The allergies could be in the form of vomiting, watery stools, lack of weight gain, wheezing or stuffiness. If you suspect any food allergies, especially if they are in your family, seek medical advice from your pediatrician.