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You are here: Home > Baby > Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Diet for Mom

by Katlyn Joy | October 30, 2012 3:58 PM
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Don't throw away those prenatal vitamins or start with the cocktails and Cheetos just yet. If you are a breastfeeding mother, you will likely follow a diet of do's and don'ts not too unlike your pregnancy diet.

While breastfeeding, aim for about 400-500 extra calories beyond your pre-pregnancy calorie needs. You'll want to focus on iron and protein-rich foods, calcium, whole grains and a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables. Also be sure to get plenty of the right beverages to aid in milk production and avoid dehydration.

1. Protein. A simple rule is to get 1 gram of protein per pound of mother's weight. Good sources include lean cuts of meat, and seafood which is low in mercury. Options for vegetarians include legumes/beans, eggs, cheese, peanut butter and nuts and seeds.

2. Iron rich foods. Go for the green leafy vegetables, whole grain cereals, beans and peas. To aid absorption, eat iron rich foods with foods or drinks high in vitamin C. These include bell peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits (if they don't irritate baby's tummy) and strawberries.

3. Calcium. Probably the most obvious nutritional need for breastfeeding moms is milk and dairy foods and drinks. Even if you're lactose intolerant, you can find lactose free dairy products that will fill your nutritional needs while nursing a baby. Consider milk, yogurt, cheese and low fat ice cream.

4. Prenatal vitamins. Most doctors recommend nursing moms continue taking their regular prenatal vitamin as long as they are breastfeeding. If your's does not bring it up with you, go ahead and ask. While it's best to get your nutrients from your diet rather than a pill, prenatal vitamins can boost your nutrition in areas where you may be a bit light.

5. A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. By varying your diet you can ensure you are getting the nutritional bases covered. Additionally, it is now believed that what we feed our infants early will affect their taste buds permanently. By eating from a wide array of tastes, your baby will become accustomed to a large assortment of foods.

6. Vegetarians may need supplements. If you are a vegetarian, you may need to add vitamin B-12 supplements and possibly vitamin D as well. Vitamin B-12 comes from animal sources and vitamin D will come mainly from milk so if you are vegan and are not in the sun much, a supplement should be considered. Discuss it with your doctor.

7. Iron may cause constipation. If you are pushing the iron-rich foods or your prenatal vitamin contains iron, you may have some difficulty with constipation. If you do, add more water and some juice to your daily diet, and add fiber. If that doesn't do the trick, talk to your physician about safe remedies. Any old over the counter laxative could have a negative effect on your nursling, so check first with your doctor.

8. Drink plenty of water and other beverages to avoid dehydration and increase your milk supply. While in general you should get at least 8 glasses of water a day, you can count your milk towards the water intake. Juice counts too but watch how much of your liquid diet contains such high sugar amounts. Avoid soft drinks which may contain too much sodium, caffeine and sugar. Soda may also rob you of your calcium.

9. Avoid or eliminate caffeine altogether. The best option is to cut out all caffeine, but if you must indulge, limit yourself to no more than 3 drinks containing caffeine. It can make your baby irritable or jittery. It may also cause baby to have a stomach ache. Don't forget that most chocolates contain caffeine too.

10. Cigarettes have no place in a nursing mom's mouth. While cigarettes are clearly off limits while pregnant, smoking while breastfeeding is also dangerous. Babies from smokers are more likely to suffer respiratory problems, diarrhea, restlessness or sleep problems, boost heart rate in baby and lower milk production in baby. Perhaps most importantly, SIDS and smoking in mothers is linked.

11. Alcohol and the nursing mom is a tricky proposition at best. If you want an occasional beer or drink, then you must avoid nursing once the alcohol hits your system until it clears. If you miss a feeding, you should consider pumping and dumping in order to keep your milk supply on track. Of course the safest option is not to drink at all. Remember alcohol will dehydrate you too, so if you have a drink swig some H2o as well.

12. Avoid other herbal products even teas or supplements unless you get a physician's OK. Herbs while natural are not necessary safe especially for a baby. What you take in is almost always going to cross over into your milk so never take any substance without checking it out with your doctor first.

Sometimes items in a mother's diet can lead to colicky symptoms, tummy aches or gassiness in baby. To determine whether a suspected food is to blame, eliminate from your diet for a few days and note how you and baby feel. Add the food and see what happens over a few days. Some likely culprits include: spicy foods, onions, garlic, citrus drinks and fruits, chocolate, dairy products, eggs, peanuts, wheat products, soy, fish, or gas-inducing veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and beans.


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