Your Nutrition while Breastfeeding

Your days of watching what you eat aren’t over when your pregnancy ends. If you are planning to breastfeed, you will need to continue your healthy habits. Nursing your baby means that your body must provide all of the nutrition required for baby to grow strong. Your body is working hard to produce the milk, so you will need some extra calories to keep it going, but make sure you get those extra calories from healthy, nutritious foods.

What You Should Eat

A balanced diet from all four food groups is vital while you are breastfeeding. Be sure to eat a varied diet that will give you all of the necessary vitamins and minerals. You should already be used to eating well from your pregnancy, so you can simply continue those good eating habits into your nursing diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources such as poultry and fish, good sources of calcium, and whole grain options for lots of fiber.

You will probably find that in the early months of breastfeeding, you have a very good appetite. Most nursing moms will feel very hungry, and this is because the body needs a lot of fuel to keep producing that milk. A nursing mom requires about 500 calories more per day than a woman who is not nursing (and not pregnant). This means only another 200 calories above the extra 300 needed during pregnancy. Add a healthy snack or two to your daily intake to meet this need.

Adding extra fluids to your diet is a good idea while breastfeeding. It will keep you hydrated and help your milk production. Try to add several glasses of water every day.

What You Should Not Eat

The main difference between a pregnancy diet and a breastfeeding diet is that you won’t have to follow all of the same dietary restrictions you did while pregnant. Foods like sushi and eggs over-easy are no longer off the menu. Alcohol and caffeine, however, do pass into breast milk. You should continue to avoid them or consume them with great caution. Most experts recommend that you wait 2 hours after an alcoholic beverage before breastfeeding, but it’s best to skip it altogether. Caffeine is ok in moderation, but it may make baby jittery or affect sleep, so use it carefully.

Although you may have heard a lot about how certain foods can make your baby gassy or fussy, there is no reason to avoid foods such as those that are spicy unless you actually see a reaction in your baby. Most babies will not have a problem with these types of foods. A food that makes you gassy is not going to make your baby gassy, but there may be a food in your diet that baby is allergic to or simply sensitive to, which could cause gas. If you notice that your baby becomes gassy or fussy around 6 hours after eating a certain food, try eliminating it for a while to see if it helps.

Your breastfeeding diet should simply be a continuation of your healthy pregnancy diet, with a few minor changes. Just as in pregnancy, your body is feeding your baby, so keep that in mind when planning your diet. You should also continue taking supplements just as you did during pregnancy to make sure your body gets everything it needs.

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