Nutrition

The Best Breastfeeding Diet For You

Susy WulfFebruary 13, 20224 mins read

Your focus as a parent will be on your baby. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t remember the important lesson from each pre-flight safety demonstration: Your own health is more important than the health of those around you.

Michelle Ross, RD. LD. ALC is a registered and licensed dietitian and advanced breastfeeding consultant. She is also the program manager for Clinical Nutrition and Lactation at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Your body can do more than just give you energy to change diapers or stay awake for late-night cries.

“What is so fascinating about breast milk? It is dynamic. Ross says that breast milk can be modified to suit the needs of a baby depending on the baby’s preferences.

How can you make sure you eat well and pass good food on to your baby? Here are some tips from dietitians and nurses on how to feed your baby while breastfeeding.

How much (or more) to eat

Breastfeeding moms should consume 300-500 calories more per day than they did before giving birth, on average.

10 Best Breastfeeding Foods
10 Best Breastfeeding Foods

The MyPlate food plan calculator shows that a 30-year-old woman who is slightly active and weighs in at 140 pounds and 5 feet 4 inches would need around 2,200 calories per person if she was breastfeeding her baby. It’s recommended that she gives her baby a mixture of formula and breast milk, which will provide around 2000 calories per day.

Jyothi Parpurath MD, an ob/gyn at CareMount Medical, Carmel, New York, advises that you make those calories count. Breastfeeding mothers should be focused on a healthy diet. She says they need more calories than breastfeeding mothers.

What to Eat

Remember that what you eat is what your baby eats. Lisa Lewis, MD, a Fort Worth pediatrician, says that a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, protein, and healthy oils will promote milk production. The mother passes on the benefits of healthy foods to her baby while she is breastfeeding.

Lewis emphasizes the importance of the protein factor because “studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers who consume more protein will produce more milk.”

When possible, try to find the following options in these categories: They all contain vitamins and nutrients, such as calcium, iron and omega-3s, potassium and vitamin A and C, that are recommended to expectant and breastfeeding mothers.

  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits
  • Mangoes
  • Melon
  • Carrots
  • Leafy greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Barley
  • Whole-grain, fortified whole-grain cereals with low sugar
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Fortified milk substitutes
  • Milk
  • Regular yogurt
  • Greek yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Beans
  • Chicken
  • Lean beef
  • Pork
  • Salmon
  • Avocados
  • Chia seeds
  • Grape seed oil
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil

Parapurath suggests that you take a multivitamin with Vitamin B12 if you don’t eat meat. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), claim that B12 can be transferred from the placenta to the baby during pregnancy and breast milk after birth. Baby can also become deficient if mom isn’t getting enough or doesn’t supplement with fortified formula.

To keep your body hydrated, drink a glass water every time you breastfeed/pump.

How to Avoid Eating

Some “never eat while nursing!” recommendations are old wives tales. According to Korean research, spicy and gassy foods like broccoli and cauliflower should be avoided. However, they are perfectly acceptable to enjoy. Consuming more caffeine than five cups of coffee a day can make it a problem.

Kelley Baumgartel PhD, RN is a registered nurse who also serves as an assistant professor at Duquesne University’s School of Nursing in Pittsburgh.

Although baby may notice a change in flavor, it is not necessarily a sign of something wrong. However, you should be aware of her reactions to common allergens like wheat and dairy. Talking to your pediatrician is a good idea if you notice breathing problems, diarrhea, or skin irritations.

Lewis states that the “list of foods to avoid breastfeeding mothers is very similar” to the “shunned foods in pregnancy”.

It is best to skim:

  • Seafood and raw/undercooked meat
  • High levels of mercury in fish
  • If you don’t pump and then discard alcohol for the next 12 hour
  • Drinks sweetened with high fructose Corn Syrup

These guidelines should not be considered a substitute for professional medical care. Talk to your doctor about your diet and that of your baby, and make sure to raise any concerns you have with them.

Susy Wulf
author

Susy Wulf is a journalist, copywriter, editor and journalist. She has a BA degree in English from Monmouth University, and a MA in Global Communications (American University of Paris).

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