Healthy Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers

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Breastfeeding offers your baby all of the nutrients she needs, but ensuring that you get all of your needed nutrients takes more effort. A balanced diet provides your body the fuel it needs to make it through the sleepless nights and full days of meeting your infant’s needs. You don’t need to go on a strict diet while breastfeeding, but certain guidelines help you feel better without affecting your breast milk supply.

Vitamins

According to Babycenter, the body will call on nutrient reserves if your diet doesn’t supply the necessary vitamins and minerals. This can lead to depletion of the nutrients in the body. Continuing your prenatal vitamin for the first month serves as a backup if you miss some of the nutrients in your diet. Babycenter recommends supplements for calcium, vitamin D and DHA — docosahexaenoic acid — if your diet does not supply enough of the nutrients.

Calorie Considerations

Breastfeeding burns extra calories in the body, meaning you’ll need to consume more calories to keep up with the demands. Babycenter says that breastfeeding moms need between 200 and 500 extra calories each day. Keeping your minimum calories between 2,000 and 2,700 calories a day should provide the calories necessary. Avoid counting calories or trying to lose weight, especially when your baby is a newborn.

Variety and Balance

A variety of foods from different groups supplies your body with a balance of nutrients. Babycenter recommends consuming carbs, protein and fat at mealtime for a nutrient-rich meal that keeps you feeling full longer. A breastfeeding mom benefits from eating fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Expand beyond your usual fruits and vegetables for greater variety that also supplies varied nutrients.

Fluids

The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes the importance of fluid intake while breastfeeding. Water hydrates the body well without the added sugar or caffeine that comes in many drinks. When you notice yourself feeling thirsty, reach for a glass of water. Increased fluid intake also helps with your breast milk supply.

Warning

While food restrictions aren’t as stringent as during pregnancy, breastfeeding mothers should avoid or limit certain foods and beverages. Alcohol shows up in your breast milk just as it does your bloodstream, meaning your baby may be exposed to the alcohol if he nurses soon after you take a drink, according to Babycenter. Caffeine also transfers into the breast milk. Limit these types of beverages or avoid them completely while breastfeeding.

Fish consumption recommendations are similar to those during pregnancy. Avoid fish that are known for high mercury levels, particularly shark, tilefish, king mackerel and swordfish.

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