If you are breastfeeding, you’re giving your baby nutrients that will help his or her growth and health. But what foods are best for you? How might your diet change your breast milk and affect your baby? Is there a special breastfeeding diet I should follow?
You don’t need to go on a special or strict diet while you’re breastfeeding, it is important to focus on making healthy choices. Research shows that the higher the nutritional quality of the mom’s diet, the higher the nutritional quality of the milk. So, as you make healthy eating choices, you and your baby will reap the rewards.
How many more calories do I need when breastfeeding?
When breastfeeding, you need to eat 300 to 400 extra calories a day to sustain your energy.
It doesn’t take much food to get those extra calories. It’s important that breastfeeding mamas choose nutrient-rich choices. A medium-sized apple, cooked greens, a slice of whole-grain bread with a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter, or a cup of yogurt are great choices.
What foods should I eat while breastfeeding?
You do not need to maintain a perfect diet to provide quality milk for your baby; however, you will be healthier and feel better if you eat well. Choose whole grains rather than white bread. Eggs and lean meat over fatty cuts. Beans and lentils over chips and crackers. Wash your fruits and vegetables to lower your exposure to pesticide residue.
When you eat a variety of different, nutritious foods while breastfeeding, your baby experiences different flavors. These variances might help him, or her, more easily accept solid foods later.
Your doctor may recommend continuing to take a daily prenatal vitamin until your baby is weaned to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals.
Choose my Plate has excellent recommendations for healthy food choices for breastfeeding moms.
What about a vegetarian diet and breastfeeding?
If you are eating a vegetarian diet, be intentional about eating foods that’ll give you high amounts of quality nutrients. Choose foods rich in iron, protein, and calcium.
To get enough iron, make sure you choose iron-rich foods such as dark leafy green vegetables, peas, lentils, whole grains, and dried fruit. To help your body absorb iron, eat iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits.
Eggs and dairy products or plants can be great sources of protein. Consider lentils, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy products, meat substitutes, and whole grains.
Good sources of calcium include dairy products and dark green vegetables. Other options include cereals, soy milk, soy yogurt, and tofu.
What foods should I limit or avoid while breastfeeding?
Seafood can be a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help your baby’s development. But to limit your baby’s exposure to mercury, avoid swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. If you eat fish from local waters, pay attention to local fish advisories or limit fish from local waters to 6 ounces a week.
Could my diet cause my baby to have an allergic reaction?
Certain foods or drinks in your diet could cause your baby to have gas or have an allergic reaction. If your baby becomes irritable or develops diarrhea or a rash after nursing, talk to your baby’s doctor. It’s helpful to keep a food diary to see what foods your child might be reacting to.
Breastfeeding Diet Help
Do you have other questions about your breastfeeding diet or breastfeeding in general? Call us at Creekside Center for Women at 479.582.9268 to set-up an appointment with one of our lactation consultants.