We all know that breast milk is best for an infant’s development.
Study after study has shown that breastfeeding can help your baby develop their immunity and may also improve intellectual and physical development for years to come. However, despite the attention that breastfeeding has received by scientists and in the media, not nearly enough attention is paid to helping breastfeeding mother make dietary choices that will optimize the nutrition and benefits their breast milk provides.
The Basic Facts About Breastfeeding And Your Diet
Most women who are breastfeeding produce between 25 and 35 ounces of breast milk each day. To produce this milk, your body will need at least an additional 500 calories a day than you would normally consume. If you fail to get enough calories in your diet while breastfeeding, the amount of milk you will be able to produce for your child will be reduced. In addition, if your diet is deficient in important nutrients, your breast milk quality will be reduced as well.
Not only do you need to make sure your caloric intake is adequate and healthy, you also need to make sure you are properly hydrated during breastfeeding. If you are breastfeeding mom, you may have already noticed how thirsty you can get while breastfeeding. Immediately after childbirth, your liquid intake needs to increase dramatically if you are breastfeeding. One good habit to get into when you are breastfeeding is to make sure you always have a glass of water nearby whenever you sit down to nurse your baby.
Having The Best Breastfeeding Diet
Fortunately most new mothers have already been improving their diets while pregnant. Much of what you need to do to ensure you have the best breastfeeding diet possible is a continuation of practices recommended for women who are pregnant. Obviously, you will want to continue abstaining from tobacco and alcohol while breastfeeding, and exercise caution regarding any medications you are prescribed. You will also want to limit your intake of caffeine and artificial sweeteners.
However, while breastfeeding there are also some additional nutritional requirements you need to meet. To start, there are certain foods you may want to avoid eating that may irritate some newborns digestive systems, such as beans and cabbage. Not all infants are sensitive to these foods, but if you notice that your baby is fussy shortly after a nursing session, try removing certain foods from your diet temporarily to see if this helps ease your baby’s digestive problems. You can then try reintroducing the food a few months later, to see if your baby still shows any sensitivity to the food.
Breastfeeding mothers should also make sure they receive enough protein in their diet. For the first six months, a breastfeeding mother should be getting at least 70 grams of protein daily in her diet.
Special attention should also be paid to the amount of calcium, iron and vitamin D is in your diet. Supplements may not be necessary, as long as you make sure your diet is healthy and varied. Mothers who are vegetarian or vegan should also make sure they are receiving adequate amounts of the B12 vitamin in their diet (nutritional yeast, fortified soymilk or vitamin supplements can help).
Here is a summary of many of the dietary recommendations advocated for breastfeeding mothers:
* Add more protein to your diet. Ideally, you will consume between 70 and 100 grams of protein daily from a variety of sources, such as meat and fish, beans, eggs, dairy, tofu and nut sources. However, certain fishes, such as swordfish and shark should be avoided because of a potentially high mercury content.
* Try to make sure you are consuming at least 1,300 milligrams of Calcium a day. In general, one cup of milk contains about 300 milligrams of calcium. Other important sources of calcium include other dairy foods, including yogurt ad cottage cheese, but you can also look to increase your calcium intake by drinking calcium fortified orange juice, eating calcium fortified tofu or by taking a supplement.
* Try to consume at least 9 milligrams of iron daily. Good sources of iron include meet, dried beans and even some dried fruit.
* Try to consume at least 115 milligrams of vitamin C daily as well. Citrus fruits and many vegetables such as broccoli and bell peppers can be a good source of vitamin C.
* Taking a daily multivitamin while nursing is usually a good idea for mothers who are breastfeeding.