Breastfeeding has incredible benefits for both mom and baby. It comes as no surprise that it’s super important to eat healthy while breastfeeding (and beyond!) Breast milk contains your baby’s nutritional needs for the first six months of his/her life. This means that your nutritional needs must be increased to make sure you’re giving your baby the very best nutrition possible and your body meets his/her continual nourishment demands. Not only does eating healthy give you the needed energy to care for your new baby, but it may also help you shed any extra pregnancy weight.

Follow my top breastfeeding diet recommendations to make sure you’re covered on all nutritional needs during this important and special time.  

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Your Milk Rocks!

Breast milk is priceless! It contains basically everything a baby needs for proper development, with the exception of Vitamin D. If mom’s diet is missing key nutrients, this can have a negative impact on both the quality of your breast milk and also on your overall health. Breast milk is smart, too. It changes constantly to meet the needs of your baby. At the beginning of each feeding, the milk is more of a watery consistency. As your baby feeds, the milk then becomes more nutritious and higher in fat. It’s really important to allow your baby to completely empty one breast before moving on to the next.

Baby Likes Water

When we breastfeed, we have a hormone called oxytocin that increases (this hormone is what causes milk to come out when a baby latches) and also causes us to be much thirstier. It’s really important to keep well hydrated to keep up with the milk production needs. There is no golden rule above the suggested eight glasses of water that are advised during breastfeeding. The best way to make sure you are drinking enough water is to look at the color and smell of your urine. Clear is hydrated. The more yellow the color, the more water you should drink.

What Else Does Baby Like To Drink?

Good job, mom - you’re drinking plenty of water. What about mom drinking cow’s milk, caffeine, and alcohol?

*Cow’s milk: Some infants may be allergic to the cow’s milk proteins from their mom’s diet. This can cause colic, eczema, diarrhea, and rashes for the baby. An easy trial is to remove cow’s milk completely from your diet for at least 4 weeks to see if this improves baby’s symptoms. If baby’s symptoms improve then you may need to completely eliminate cow’s milk from your diet until your baby is no longer breastfeeding. Make sure you are getting your calcium needs from other foods and/or calcium supplements.

*Caffeine: It’s been shown that moderate amounts of coffee do not cause harm or affect a baby’s sleep as only about 1% of caffeine is transferred to breast milk. Even so, try to limit your coffee intake to around 2 cups per day.

*Alcohol: Alcohol does make its way into breast milk the same as it does in a mom’s blood. You'll want to wait a minimum of two hours for each drink you've consumed before breastfeeding your baby. Limit all alcohol. This is a short time in your life.

Eat Up, Mama!  

Your body works up quite the appetite producing breast milk and can actually burn up to 500 calories per day breastfeeding. Your nutritional needs go up as well so it’s super important that mom choose a wide variety of healthy foods. Restricting calories during the first few months of breastfeeding may actually lower your energy levels and milk supply. Even if you are eager to quickly lose the extra baby weight, it’s wise not to be tempted to lose weight too quickly after delivery. Moms that breastfeed actually can experience an increase in fat burning around 3-6 months after they begin breastfeeding. So be patient. Losing around 1lb per week has been shown to not decrease milk supply. It’s important to remember that it took you months to put on the weight and it may take you months to take it off, and that’s perfectly okay. You only get to breastfeed this baby once so enjoy the process and be okay eating for the baby for a little while longer.

Be Nutrient Needy

Nutrients and vitamins greatly matter when it comes to baby and mom’s sheet list.  Avoid processed foods, unhealthy fats, sugar and added salt as much as possible. Remember, you’re feeding your growing baby!

*Fruits: Berries, bananas, apples, tomatoes, avocados

*Veggies: Dark leafy greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots

*Fish and Seafood: Salmon, shellfish (shrimp)

*Meat: Poultry (white meat only), pork, lamb

Below is a list of what vitamins and nutrients are needed for a strong and well-rounded diet and a few top food examples for each:

*Vitamin D: Fish, mushrooms, fortified foods

*Vitamin A: Eggs, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots

*Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): Bread, nuts, seeds, fish, pork

*Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Nuts, eggs, oily fish, cheese, red meat

*Vitamin B6: Bananas, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, fish, poultry, pork

*Vitamin B12: Shellfish, fish

*Choline: Eggs, fish, peanuts

*Selenium: Fish, whole wheat, seeds, nuts

*Iodine: Milk, dried seaweed cod

*Calcium: Yogurt, milk, cheese, leafy greens, legumes

*Iron: Seafood, pork, red meat, poultry, beans, green veggies

*Folate: Leafy greens, avocados, beans, lentils

*Zinc: Red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, dairy, oysters

*Copper: Whole grains, nuts, beans, potatoes, shellfish

My Top New Mommy Food Favs

It’s very important to eat a wide variety of real, whole foods in order to ensure that baby is getting all of the needed vitamins and nutrients from you. Here are my top favorites you should be eating while breastfeeding and beyond. Obviously, there are lots and lots of other healthy foods that are beneficial and not on this list, so be sure to include a wide variety. This is only a short cheat sheet:

*Nuts and Seeds: Flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts

*Lots of others: Old-fashioned oats, egg whites, whole wheat bread, organic nut butter, Greek yogurt

Enjoy the gift of breastfeeding your baby. It’s a short time in both of your lives. Choosing healthy food is something within your control. Healthy food not only benefits your breast milk quality and supply, but it helps to improve your energy and helps you to lose the extra baby weight. Do your baby and your body good and choose wisely!

Karina HeinrichComment