Facts on Breastfeeding
Facts on Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding bonds child to mother. Breast-feeding is the recommended way to feed a newborn. Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your little one. Eating well when you’re nursing means getting a variety of nutritious food. The nutrition requirements for breastfeeding are similar to pregnancy, and women are recommended to continue eating similarly to how they were eating during their pregnancy. If you’re breast-feeding, you’re giving your baby nutrients that will promote his or her growth and health. Many new moms wonder how breastfeeding will affect their diet. You probably don’t need to make any major changes to what you eat or drink when you’re nursing, though there are a few important considerations to keep in mind:

Importance of nutrition during breastfeeding

During the first six months after delivery, the baby is fed only on breast milk, and the baby depends on the mother for all nutrient requirements. Eating a healthy diet while you are breastfeeding is important because what you eat determines the energy, protein, nutrient and vitamin content of your breast milk. Additionally, some minerals and vitamins are required for body processes such as healing wounds quickly (e.g. vitamin C and zinc). Nutritional demands during lactation are high and can have a negative impact on both you and your infant if they are not met. Your daily diet will be adequate provided that your food selection and preparation is appropriate.

Eat a well-balanced diet for your health

One of the wonders of breast milk is that it can meet your baby’s nutritional needs even when you’re not eating perfectly. However, if your diet is too low in nutrients, this could affect the quality and quantity of your milk. Your body is working around the clock to make breast milk for your baby. Eating small meals with healthy snacks in between is a good way to keep you healthy. An exclusively breastfeeding mother, on average, needs to take in 300-500 calories per day above what was needed to maintain pre-pregnancy weight. Instead of counting calories, follow your hunger as a guide to how much you need to eat.

Foods to eat while breast-feeding

Focus on making healthy choices to help fuel your milk production. Opt for protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils and seafood low in mercury. Choose a variety of whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables. To make sure you and your baby are getting all of the vitamins you need, your health care provider might recommend continuing to take a daily prenatal vitamin until you wean your baby.

Sufficient water intake

Drink frequently, preferably before you feel thirsty, and drink more if your urine appears dark yellow. Have a glass of water nearby when you breast-feed your baby.

Choose foods rich in iron, protein, calcium and vitamins

Good sources of iron include lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, peas, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruit. To help your body absorb iron, eat iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits. For protein, consider eggs and dairy products or plant sources, such as soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Good sources of calcium include dairy products and dark green vegetables. Other options include calcium-enriched and -fortified products, such as juices, cereals, soy milk, soy yogurt and tofu.

Foods to avoid while breastfeeding

Excessive caffeine: One or two cups of coffee, tea or soda a day won’t affect your baby but more than that, however, may lead to both of you feeling irritable and sleepless. Also, excessive caffeine has been linked to colic and acid reflux in babies.
High-mercury fish: The same EPA guidelines on fish safety that apply to pregnant women also apply to breastfeeding women: avoid high-mercury fish including shark, tilefish and mackerel, and tuna.
Processed foods: As a general rule, check labels and try to avoid processed foods that contain long lists of additives.

Blog Post Provided By – Rubina Perween, Senior Dietitian, Ford Hospital