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You are here: Home > Baby > Breastfeeding - What Is The Best Diet For A Breastfeeding Mom?

What Is The Best Diet For A Breastfeeding Mom?

by Robin OBrien
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During pregnancy many women eat much more than usual sometimes eating a bizarre mixture of foodstuffs at the one time. This is just your body's way of storing up the nutrition you need so your baby can grow strong inside you as well to begin to produce the breast milk your baby will later need. But after the birth what you eat is even more important for your baby's health.

After you give birth, good nutrition is even more vital than during your pregnancy. The quality of your breast milk depends on your diet and your diet also affects how quickly your body rebounds from childbirth. Medical experts recommend that a breastfeeding mother requires an additional 500 calories per day. Recently that recommendation has been amended; what you eat is far more important than your caloric intake.

So what foods should you be eating?

Only one vitamin is manufactured inside our body; vitamin 5. All other vitamins must be obtained from food. Vitamins are found in many foods—interestingly only one food contains all the vitamins necessary for healthy development: breast milk. No other food contains all the vitamins a person requires. Therefore the secret for a breastfeeding mother is to have a well balanced diet. Fruit and vegetables are the best source for vitamins. Eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day will give you just about all the vitamins you need - you will get all the vitamin C you need, and one more portion will help provide the extra vitamin A and B you need when breastfeeding. Broccoli is a particularly good source of both vitamin C and A. Eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day will also give your body most of the minerals and fiber it needs.

As stated above, vitamin D can be made in the body but our bodies need the sun to do this. In winter it is nearly impossible to manufacture vitamin D, therefore we need to get our vitamin from what we eat. Oily fish, margarine and dairy products are good sources of vitamin. Many health professionals recommend that breastfeeding women take a supplement of 10 microgram of vitamin D, especially if the mother rarely exposes her skin to the sun or if she doesn't like foods rich in vitamin D.

As well as minerals it is important that a breastfeeding mother get her RDA of minerals such as Calcium, Zinc and Selenium. Calcium is well known as being important for the development of healthy bones—a lack of calcium can lead to osteoporosis in later life. Milk and other dairy products are a great source of calcium so try to drink milk every day. Milk is also a good source of vitamins B2 and B12. If you don't like milk or are a vegan you can get calcium in other foods like sardines, calcium enriched soya milk, dried figs, tofu, white bread, almonds, spinach and tahini.

The following foods are rich in zinc: red meat, sardines, baked potatoes, cashew nuts, whole meal bread, lentils, hard cheese, peanuts and other fish like mackerel and prawns.

Free radicals are bad for our body. Reports suggest that free radicals are on the increase because of things like cigarette smock and car exhaust fumes. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect our cells from the action of free radicals. Fish, cheese and lentils are good sources of Selenium.

No special diet is really needed for a breastfeeding mother. All that is required is a well-balanced diet contain plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, some dairy products and a little red meat. If you're a vegan or vegetarian you can easily replace dairy products or meat with many fruit and vegetables. If you are in any doubt as to whether you are eating a healthy diet your first point of contact should be your doctor.

Robin O'Brien is founder of Breastfeeding Information.com.

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