What you need to know:
- Breastfeeding mothers need to consume around 500-600 extra calories per day to maintain their milk supply.
- Ensure you get enough carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals in your diet.
Breastfeeding is often hailed as a natural and wonderful experience for both mother and baby. It has plenty of benefits for the baby's developing immune system, brain growth, and overall health.
However, what many people don't realise is that breastfeeding takes a toll on the mother's body.
In order to produce milk, the mother's body must draw on her reserves of nutrients, which can lead to deficiency.
A balanced diet is essential for keeping up your milk supply and ensuring your baby gets the best possible start in life.
What your body needs
Breastfeeding mothers need to consume around 500-600 extra calories per day to maintain their milk supply.
This may seem like a lot, but it is important to remember that breastfeeding burns around 300-500 calories daily. So, while eating an extra 500-600 calories, you are still burning off a good chunk of those calories.
The weight you gain during pregnancy will help offset some of the extra calories you need for breastfeeding.
Therefore, you will need the extra calorie consumption if your body weight has gone back to its pre-pregnancy state.
Food to eat during breastfeeding
You may be wondering what type of food you should eat while breastfeeding. The best answer to that is a varied and balanced diet. Eat enough carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals in your diet.
Nursing mothers need around 210 grams of carbohydrates per day. This can be found in whole-grain cereals, fruits, and vegetables.
Proteins are also an essential part of your diet when you are breastfeeding, they build and repair your body's tissues.
Nursing mothers need around 60-70 grams extra of protein per day. This can be found in lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Fats are important for many reasons when you are breastfeeding. They can be found in avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish. They help your body absorb certain vitamins and provide energy.
Vitamins and minerals are also important for breastfeeding mothers. Some important vitamins and minerals include iron, calcium, and vitamin D. You can get these from eating leafy green vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy products, and fish.
Limit caffeine and alcohol
You may have heard that you should avoid caffeine and alcohol while breastfeeding. However, moderate amounts of caffeine and alcohol are safe for most breastfeeding mothers.
Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, and chocolate. However, if your baby is struggling to sleep, you may want to limit your caffeine intake.
As for alcohol, it is safe to consume about three hours before breastfeeding your baby. This gives your body time to process the alcohol. If you feel the urge to breastfeed before then, pump the milk and dispose of it.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
It is so important to stay hydrated when you are breastfeeding. You should aim for eight glasses of fluids per day.
If you are finding it difficult to drink that much fluid, keep a water bottle with you and take small sips throughout the day. You can also eat foods high in water, such as fruits and vegetables.
Food allergies and what to avoid eating
Babies are rarely affected negatively by what the mother consumes. However, there are a few things that you should avoid eating while breastfeeding, just to be on the safe side. such as fish with high mercury levels (swordfish and sharks).
Suppose you are worried about what you should and should not be eating while breastfeeding, keep a food diary. This way, you can track how your baby reacts to different foods.
If you notice that your baby is having trouble sleeping or is fussy after eating certain foods, it may be best to avoid them.
Finally, consult the paediatrician if you have any concerns.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your baby and give them the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.