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Breastfeeding Mothers: Diet & Essential Tips For Healthy Eating


diet for a breastfeeding mother

Hello New Mom! You’re must be aware of how essential breastfeeding can be for your baby, right? It is both beneficial for you & your little one. But not surprisingly, it may seem challenging at first, but you get comfortable with the entire process over time.


To support the production of breast milk & the flow of nutrients for your child’s nourishment, you have to go an extra mile. Well, in this case, going the extra mile requires you to eat healthy with of course fewer restrictions. So, let’s make this happen! The quality of your milk will be just fine regardless of what you consume in a day. Yet, you’ll get to know why it’s necessary to add certain nutrients to your diet while breastfeeding.


Adding on healthy food items will not only back you up in the postpartum phase but will support your body during nursing. As mentioned above, even if you don’t consume healthy food items, your baby will be just fine with just one difference. So while nursing, your body will be dependent on its own reserve of nutrients and this might be risky for your long-term well-being. Whereas, the objective is to consume enough nutrients to keep away from your own reserve.


Having mentioned that, in this blog, you’ll find relevant information about the perfectly safe diet for a breastfeeding mother. Besides that, if you wish to stimulate your bond with your baby, opt for baby & post-natal massages and make your postpartum period even better!


Table of Contents


  1. Basics of Breast Milk Composition

  2. Diet of a Breastfeeding Mother: What to eat?

  3. Water Consumption while Breastfeeding: How much to drink?

  4. Food Items To Avoid while Breastfeeding

  5. Alcohol & Breastfeeding: Risks & Safety

  6. Baby Allergies & their Symptoms

  7. 5 Essential Tips For Breastfeeding Mom’s Healthy Eating

  8. FAQs


Basics of Breast Milk Composition


It must be clear by now that it is essential for you to follow a healthy diet. The reason is simple. It’s your health & so to ensure that your baby gets all the nutrients for healthy development. Human breast milk constitutes vitamins, minerals, protein, fat & digestive enzymes. In particular, it is a complex formulation of 87% water, 3.8% fat, 7% lactose & 1% protein.


So, you can surely consider breast milk as the most optimal source of a baby’s nutrition. During the initial days after giving birth, the formulation of the milk is usually thick & yellowish in color. It can also be referred to as colostrum which is generally filled with a pack of nutritious amalgam. For this reason, no other compound can replace the benefits rendered by colostrum.


As days pass by, the nature of formulation changes, and the quantity of your breast milk increases too. Amongst other benefits of breast milk is when your child is exposed to a virus that might trigger a disease, in that case, breastfeeding promotes a reduced risk of such infections. Thereby, making sure that your child’s safe & healthy.


Diet of a Breastfeeding Mother: What to eat?


Eating well is important for your health & your baby’s overall development. Keeping this into consideration, a good maternal diet involves the inclusion of all critical nutrients. Just because your body burns an extra 300 - 400 calories a day during nursing, following a nutritious diet will help you with the cover-up. These food items might also change the taste of your breast milk. That means your little one will get familiar with different flavors. Besides, following a diet that is both good for your baby & helps you reduce weight is a cherry on top.


List of nutrients for a breastfeeding mother


Intending to, cover all the items for healthy eating, we’ve formulated a list of nutrients with common food sources. Read along for a better understanding!


  1. Calcium - Yogurt, Cheese, Green leafy vegetables

  2. Iron - Beans, Red meat, Pork, Seafood - low in mercury

  3. Folate - Avocados, Lentils, Green leafy vegetables

  4. Zinc - Beans, Oysters, Meat, Eggs

  5. Protein - Beans, Lentils, Lean meat, Eggs

  6. Vitamin A - Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Dark leafy vegetables, Eggs

  7. Vitamin D - Oily Fish, Mushrooms, Cod liver oil, Other fish oils

  8. Vitamin C - Fruits, tomatoes, Berries, Leafy vegetables

  9. Vitamin B6 - Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Cereals, Bananas, Potatoes

  10. Vitamin B12 - Eggs, Oily Fish, Yogurt, Shellfish


Water Consumption while Breastfeeding: How much to drink?


diet for a breastfeeding mother

As 70% of your body & 87% of your breast milk is water, it naturally means you got to stay hydrated. As per the experts, the water consumption should be 128 ounces daily. But that means 128 ounces not only via consuming water but also from other sources like water-rich foods.


Besides, the rule of thumb asks you to quench your thirst every time you’re thirsty. It’s essential to make up for the water loss by intaking in the right proportions. You can make up for the lost water by at least consuming 8 to 12 cups of water directly. (96 ounces or 2.8 liters approximately) Whereas, other sources like juices will take care of the rest.


Consequently, consuming water in the right proportions means making sure that you don’t get dehydrated. Excess water consumption during pregnancy has not shown any boosting effect on milk production. However, it is only essential for your health and to make up for what’s lost.


The reason to stay hydrated during the breastfeeding process must be clear by now. The arrangement is such that your oxytocin level rises when your baby is latched up onto your breasts. As a result, when you’re breastfeeding, it triggers thirst, making it essential for you to stay hydrated during the process. If the formula of your milk turns dark yellow with a strong odor, it means you’ve been mildly dehydrated lately. Whereas, if you’re drinking plenty of water, you would never feel tired.


Some other signs of dehydration while breastfeeding -

  • Fatigue

  • Constipation

  • Nausea

  • Dryness around the mouth

  • Chapped Lips

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Colour of the urine - Darker yellow

Food Items To Avoid while Breastfeeding


When it’s essential for you to follow a healthy diet, it is also crucial to avoid certain food items during breastfeeding. Your baby might get fussy or gassy or may even suffer due to sleepless nights after consuming these food items. There is no evidence to suggest that these food items might not be the right choice but you need to be cautious about their utilization. So, in case you observe any negative impact on your child’s behavior, eliminate the item from your diet.


Having stated that, take note of the following items and avoid them while breastfeeding -

  • High-Mercury Fish

  • Caffeine

  • Alcohol

  • Consumption of herbal supplements

  • Grassy food items

  • Peanuts

  • Milk products


Alcohol & Breastfeeding: Risks & Safety


Consumption of alcohol may not be the safest option for you to consider while breastfeeding. However as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you wait up for at least 2 hours after consuming a single drink, your baby will be just fine. Besides, if you increase the consumption beyond the moderate levels or more than one standard drink per day, it can be harmful to your child.


Your baby can be exposed to potential risks like disrupted sleep patterns, slow weight gain, reduced milk intake & impaired cognitive development. Yet again, if you’re an occasional drinker, no evidence confirms any harmful effects on breastfed babies. In some cases, your child may sleep less than usual even if you just had one drink. So, the effects are directly related but it is usually not known to be harmful when the intake is moderately balanced.


These are the few tips you can follow if you wish to pour a drink for yourself after a long time!

  1. Limit the consumption to 1 drink per day

  2. Keep a check on moderation alcohol consumption

  3. Drink occasionally

  4. Nurse your baby before drinking

  5. Wait for at least 2 or more hours before nursing your child


Baby Allergies & their Symptoms


A breastfed infant can develop food allergies simply because of the food items that you are consuming. After carefully assessing these food patterns, you can eliminate those food items from your diet. Besides, human breast milk will not cause a negative reaction let alone because it is an ideal source of nutrition for your baby.


However, the most common food items that can cause an allergic reaction to your baby -

  • Peanuts

  • Wheat

  • Fish

  • Butter

  • Ghee

  • Eggs

  • Cow’s Milk

  • Other Dairy Products

In any case, if your baby is exposed to a real food allergy, given below are the most common symptoms that your child might display -

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Reduced weight gain

  • Diarrhea

  • Coughing

  • Red Rashes

  • Hives


5 Essential Tips For Breastfeeding Mom’s Healthy Eating


5 diet tips for breastfeeding mothers

Following are the 5 essential tips for a breastfeeding mother’s diet. Make these healthy dietary choices today for better results in the long run -


  1. Stay hydrated during the breastfeeding period

  2. Avoid alcohol for your baby’s healthy growth - Limit the consumption to 1 drink per day or less. Try drinking occasionally.

  3. Maintain a balanced diet of food items that are rich in calcium, protein & other nutrients.

  4. Consider supplements - Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Multivitamins, Omega - 3

  5. Limit or eliminate food items that may trouble your baby or cause gas.


FAQs


1. How much should a breastfeeding mom eat?


In general, a breastfeeding mother requires additional 400 - 500 calories in comparison to the mothers who aren’t. Including protein food items, vegetables, and fruits in your diet will provide you & your baby with the right nutrients for healthy development. So, you must consume all the above-mentioned items in at least 2-3 servings. Besides, drink plenty of water to make up for the water loss during breastfeeding.


2. Does a mother’s diet affect breast milk?


No, not directly. There’s no proof that consuming certain food items will boost your milk supply. However, what’s necessary is that you must eat enough to maintain a healthy diet for your long-term well-being. Moreover, you must manage your daily food consumption ( keeping in mind the calorie intake ) & focus on staying hydrated.


Choosing food items that are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin D, protein, and zinc will impart you the right energy & nutrients required to promote your overall health.


3. What breastfeeding mothers should not eat?


A breastfeeding mother should avoid the following food items during breastfeeding. These items may cause possible allergic reactions in your baby -

  • Caffeine

  • Grassy foods

  • Peanuts

  • Dairy products

  • Alcohol

  • Herbal supplements

4. What can a mother drink while breastfeeding?


Plenty of water is your answer right there. It is normal to get dehydrated during the breastfeeding process. However, the bottom line is you get to quench your thirst with water & fruit juices that are unsweetened. It is, therefore, the best time to make healthy choices related to your diet.


5. How to increase milk production in mothers?


There are natural ways to increase the milk production in mothers for their babies. The best way to do this is to ensure that your baby is latched on correctly. Additionally, try different breastfeeding positions, if that’s the problem. So, let’s see what else you can do to increase the low breast milk production -

  • Frequent breastfeeding - The hormones released while nursing will trigger milk production

  • Find your ideal breastfeeding position

  • Breastfeed from both sides at each feeding session

  • Give time to the entire process

  • Pump between & after the feeding session


Takeaway


Well, now that you're aware of what items to include & avoid during breastfeeding, make sure that your post-natal period is better than always. We urge you to monitor yourself at every step for a better future for your baby! Having said that, we hope this guide became the source of ultimate learning regarding your breastfeeding diet.


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