Breastfeeding Diet


Motherhood brings innumerable changes in your life. Your newborn is solely dependent on your breast milk for the first few months. It is highly important that you eat nutritious food not only to maintain your energy levels but also to have a consistent and good production of breast milk for the healthy growth of your newborn.


Eat Healthy

Breastfeeding has immense benefits not only to your baby but also to the mother. It is of immense importance that a mother consumes nutrient rich food so that she can provide her baby breast milk that is loaded with immune rich components. Eating healthy foods helps in losing your pregnancy weight and aids you in taking care of your baby. If your overall diet is depleted in nutrients, the quality of your breast milk and your health gets affected.  

Breastfeeding

You require more energy to make quality breast milk. It is estimated that approximately 500 calories per day is required for a nursing mom. During the initial few months, you should not concentrate on losing your weight as your body is prone to hormonal changes and you have more appetite.

A healthy breastfeeding diet

Here is a list of nutritious food that a nursing mom must consume.

  • Fish and seafood: Salmon, seaweed, tuna, shellfish and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for development of the infant’s eyes and brain.
  • Meat: Beef, lamb, pork and organ meats, such as liver.
  • Vegetables: 3 or serves a day
  • Fruits: 2 serves a day
  • Whole grains ( 9 serves a day): Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat breads and pasta
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseeds.
  • Protein – 3 serves a day
  • Dairy or calcium-enriched products – 2½ serves a day.
  • Prenatal vitamins: Daily
  • Use sweets and oils sparingly
  • Drinking 8 cups of water is essential during breastfeeding. If your water consumption is low, it can make you dehydrated, cause fatigue and constipation and can even put you at risk of urinary tract infections.
  • It is ideal to avoid processed foods as they are rich in calories, added sugars and contain unhealthy fats. Also limit the intake of spicy and gas producing foods as it can cause discomfort to your baby.

Intake of caffeine and alcohol during breastfeeding

During breastfeeding, only moderate amounts of caffeine (300 milligrams or less) and caffeinated beverages are recommended. It is estimated that 1% of caffeine is transferred to breast milk and it takes a longer time to metabolize and can disrupt baby’s sleep. Similarly alcohol consumption is allowed only in small quantities.

Cow’s milk

It is estimated that 2 to 6% of children are allergic to cow’s milk proteins that are transferred from their mother’s milk. In such cases, you have to exclude cow’s milk from your diet for a few weeks. After a few weeks, you can resume the intake of cow’s milk and if you still notice the symptoms (abdominal pain, hives and rashes in babies), you must stop cow’s milk till your baby turns 1 year.

Nutrients in breast milk

The nutrients in breast milk can be categorized into group 1 and group 2 nutrients. The amount of group1 nutrients depends on your nutrition intake whereas the amount of group 2 nutrients secreted into breast milk is regardless of the nutrient intake or health status. The group 1 nutrients are important to you and your baby and group 2 nutrients are important for you. Though the amount of group 2 nutrients is unaffected by diet, if you don’t consume the required sources, your body gets depleted and it starts consuming from bones and tissue stores.

The following table provides a list of group 1 and group 2 nutrients and the common food sources of it.

S.No

Group 1 Nutrients

Food sources

1

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Fish, pork, seeds, nuts and bread.

2

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Cheese, almonds, nuts, red meat, oily fish and eggs

3

Vitamin B6 

Seeds, nuts, fish, poultry, pork, bananas and dried fruit.

4

Vitamin B12

Shellfish, liver, oily fish, crab and shrimp

5

Choline

Eggs, beef liver, chicken liver, fish and peanuts

6

Vitamin A

Sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, organ meats and eggs.

7

Vitamin D

Cod liver oil, oily fish, some mushrooms and fortified foods

8

Selenium

Brazil nuts, seafood, fish, whole wheat and seeds

9

Iodine

Dried seaweed, cod, milk and iodized salt

S.No

Group 2 Nutrients

Food sources

1

Folate

Beans, lentils, leafy greens, asparagus and avocados.

2

Calcium

Milk, yogurt, cheese, leafy greens and legumes

3

Iron

Red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, green vegetables and dried fruit

4

Copper

Shellfish, whole grains, nuts, beans, organ meats and potatoes

5

Zinc

Oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts and dairy

 

A healthy and nutritious food keeps you healthy and can provide your baby the right quality of breast milk that she deserves.


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