A Healthy Diet While Breastfeeding

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If you’re a nursing mom, eating a healthy diet is good for both you and your baby. Breastfeeding moms must eat enough food so that they can maintain their milk supply. When you eat a healthy, balanced diet, you ensure that both you and your baby get the nutrition needed.

Calorie Requirements

When nursing, you need to consume approximately 500 more calories per day than you did before you got pregnant. While eating a minimum of 2,200 calories per day is required to maintain your milk production and to provide the necessary nutrients to your baby, the average breastfeeding mom should aim to eat 2,700 calories per day, according to FamilyEducation.com.

Foods to Eat

Eating a variety of foods while you’re nursing increases the likelihood that you and your baby get all of the vitamins you both need. When nursing, your daily calories should come from eating three balanced meals and nutritious snacks each day. A healthy, balanced breastfeeding diet includes a combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables are appropriate complex carbohydrate choices, since they have more nutritional value than sugar and processed starches. When incorporating fat into your diet, choose fats like olive oil and nuts. These fats are healthier than fats like butter and lard. Unhealthy fats can alter the fat composition of your milk and put your baby at risk for developing high blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels down the road.

Foods to Avoid

While you can now eat many of the foods that were prohibited during pregnancy, such as sushi and soft cheeses, some foods still remain on the “do not eat” list and are not part of a healthy breastfeeding diet. These include shark, mackerel, tile fish and other fish high in mercury content. Since the foods you eat affect the taste and smell of your breast milk, your baby may respond negatively to changes in your milk. If you notice that your baby always seems gassy or fussy after you’ve eaten a particular food, this food should be avoided. To test if the food was the cause of your baby’s gas or fussiness, reintroduce it to your diet in 10 to 14 days. If it was the cause of your baby’s symptoms, they will usually reappear within three days, according to Encyclopedia.com.

Beverages

You may notice that you are thirstier when you are breastfeeding. While nursing, you should drink something whenever you feel thirsty and make a conscious effort to have something to drink while you are feeding your baby, advises Children’s Hospital Boston. Beverages that should be included in your breastfeeding diet include water, juice and milk. Drinking coffee, tea or soda may cause your baby to be irritable or to have difficulty sleeping. While you can drink alcohol while breastfeeding, it’s important to wait at least two to three hours after a drink before nursing your baby so the alcohol has time to metabolize, according to Babycenter.com.

Warnings

While many new moms put pressure on themselves to lose their pregnancy weight quickly, it’s important that nursing moms follow a healthy breastfeeding diet and eat the appropriate amount of calories each day. When weight loss occurs rapidly, the toxins that are normally released into your bloodstream from your body fat get released into your breast milk. When this happens, your baby then ingests those toxins. Breastfeeding moms who eat a healthy diet and exercise moderately can safely lose 1.5 pounds per week.

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