In the US, more than eight in ten mothers begin breastfeeding their babies at birth.
Breastfeeding can help prevent ear infections, diabetes, and obesity in your child. It has also been linked to higher IQ scores in older children.
Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. It can also lower the risk of developmental issues.
Your breast milk is very nutritious and contains most of the nutrients your child will need during the first six months of their lives. It is critical to eat the right foods to make sure that you pass the right balance of nutrients on to your child.
An optimum breastfeeding diet will provide your child with vitamins, minerals, and Omega 3 fatty acids required for good development. While some nutrients transfer to your milk regardless of your food intake, it is important to keep in mind that your eating habits are directly affecting those of your infant.
Planning your diet while you are breastfeeding is important to your child's development as they grow. Here are some important requirements to keep in mind.
Breastfeeding requires extra calories. If you still have baby weight from your pregnancy, it can get passed naturally to your milk.
You can expect to experience a spontaneous increase in fat-burning around 3 to 6 months into your pregnancy. Breastfeeding mothers will most likely lose baby weight more quickly than those who don't breastfeed.
With a combination of diet and exercise, you should aim to lose an average of 1.1 pounds each week. This should not affect your milk supply or composition. If you are very thin, you may find that you have to eat abundantly while you are breastfeeding to keep your milk supply up.
After you have lost weight, you will probably still need an extra 500-600 calories each day. Once your baby starts eating other foods, which usually occurs at around six months old, you will be making less milk. This is when you can finally begin to cut down on calories.
If you have not lost any weight during the first three months after your pregnancy, don't worry. This is normal. You will need to be patient and develop a moderate diet and exercise plan once your baby is breastfeeding less.
The dietary restrictions that apply when you are pregnant are lifted once you are breastfeeding. Certain substances can now be consumed in moderation. You may, however, want to reduce your intake if it seems to be affecting your baby's health.
Most babies are not affected by caffeine. However, If you notice that your baby isn't sleeping well, or is irritable, you should cut it out of your diet completely.
Newborns may be more sensitive to caffeine than older babies. You may want to slowly re-introduce it to your body as your baby reaches their first birthday.
3. Whole Grains
Whole grains contain the vitamins, minerals, and fiber necessary for optimum nourishment. They are an essential component of any breastfeeding diet.
Whole grains contain folic acid, which is critical for your infant's development. They are also a great source of Omega 3 fats. Omega 3's are important for brain and eye function. They are also critical for developing the nervous system and keeping skin healthy.
You can get whole grains from pasta, bread, cereal, quinoa, or buckwheat. Rolled oats are full of fiber, and walnuts are high in anti-oxidants and Omega 3's.
If your diet is not rich in these foods, you may want to consider supplementing it with a tasty lactation bar. Some are designed especially for breastfeeding moms. They provide energy and any fruits or grains your body may be missing.
4. Fruits and Veggies
You should aim to get at least three servings of fruits and veggies each day. Great choices are green and yellow options, such as spinach, kale, cabbage, and broccoli.
Green leafy veggies are rich in calcium. This helps build strong bones and keeps nerves and muscles healthy. It can also keep your little one's heart healthy.
Dark, leafy greens and carrots are also rich in vitamin A. This helps produce a healthy immune system and aids in cell growth.
Fruits such as apples contain potassium, which helps improve heart health. You can also get potassium from cherries, sweet potatoes, and kiwi.
You and your baby can get folate through eating cantaloupe, asparagus, and strawberries. Folate is a natural B-vitamin that helps with cell division.
Your baby can also absorb magnesium through leafy greens. This vitamin helps with bone health and calcium absorption in both you and your child.
Fiber is in apples, pears, and blueberries. It can help your baby's body absorb nutrients from other foods. Fiber will help with your own digestion as well.
Watermelon, grapefruit, and oranges are great sources of Vitamin A. This helps develop the heart, lungs, kidney, and other organs in your child.
All of the vitamins your baby absorbs through your milk will help to keep oxygen flowing optimally through their body. It will help their brain and other systems develop the way they should.
Milk, cheeses, and yogurt contain vitamin D that is essential for healthy skin and bones. It is also an important source of calcium, which promotes healthy nerve and muscle function.
If you have a dairy allergy, you will need to supplement your diet with other sources of calcium and vitamin D. These include spinach, kale, tuna, and soy milk.
You will want to eat protein at least two to three times each day for optimal nutrition. Meat, eggs, dairy, beans, and nuts contain many of the nutrients your baby needs. These foods are also a good source of iron and can help repair the tissue in your body.
There is Vitamin B in fish and pork that keeps nerves and blood cells healthy. Vitamin B-6 is present in nuts and poultry.
Zinc, which helps children reach optimal height and weight, is present in oysters, red meat, and poultry. You need riboflavin for growth and overall good health. It is present in nuts and almonds.
DHA is an important Omega 3 for brain development. It is present in salmon, bluefish, and tuna.
If you are breastfeeding, however, you should avoid swordfish, shark, and king mackerel. These fish contain high levels of mercury.
If you are on a vegetarian diet, you may need to get iron and zinc from other sources, such as dried fruit, nuts, and dairy. Some lactation bars have these nutrients baked right in.
If you avoid all animal products, you may need a B-12 supplement to make sure your baby does not develop a deficiency.
8. Flavors and Colors
Some foods, such as veggies or herbal supplements, may have dyes that change the color of your milk.
You can also expect your baby to taste the flavors of your food in your milk. Spicy or gas-producing foods won't bother most infants. If your baby is gassy, you may increase its diarrhea.
The most common allergies for babies to develop are dairy products, soy products, wheat, and eggs. Less common allergens include fish, nuts, peanuts, and corn.
If your baby has a food allergy, they may become gassy or colicky after imbibing milk with certain foods in it. You may also notice mucous-like, green, or blood-speckled stool.
If you suspect your baby is allergic to a certain food, try avoiding it for several weeks and see if their symptoms go away. Keep a food diary and be sure to read all labels on baby food.
If the problem doesn't disappear within 4-6 weeks, it may be time to visit your doctor and dietitian.
The Best Breastfeeding Diet
The best breastfeeding diet for you is rich in whole grains, veggies, fruits, proteins, and dairy. It will provide your baby with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need to develop into a healthy child.
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