Guest Post By Roselin Raj
There are many things that we, as mothers, focus on during our pregnancy. Getting enough sleep, cutting caffeine and alcohol, and ensuring we are eating the right food are just some of the few.
But some may not know that she should continue healthy habits postpartum while breastfeeding.
Nutrition for breastfeeding mothers is very important. This guest post brought to you by WhattoExpect.com outlines those dietary requirements and why they are so important for our bodies.
Nutrition for Breastfeeding Mothers
Dietary Requirements For Breastfeeding Mothers
Good news for all the new mothers, the dietary requirements and meal plans during breastfeeding are not as restricting or stringent as compared to your pregnancy diet.
While eating healthy food is highly recommended, it isn’t a compulsion.
This is because the production of human milk is not dependent on the food that the mother consumes, and the body has the ability to fuel up milk production from different reserves within the body.
Now that you have understood how your body functions while breastfeeding, let us understand the dietary requirements and nutrition for breastfeeding mothers along with the benefits of carrying your healthy diet from pregnancy into breastfeeding.
Calorie Intake and Dietary Requirements
On average, a breastfeeding woman needs more than 200 calories a day which is higher than the requirement for pregnant women.
Each day around 500 calories are burned during milk production. This will lead to energy depletion and losing weight drastically without doing much.
So basically, you need to replenish and constantly keep the store of nutrients and calories in your body. This will help keep you healthy, energetic and not affect the process of milk production.
As the daily calorie intake exceeds daily recommended 500 calories per day, it is very important to have a healthy and nutritious diet to keep up a good balance.
While many mothers are looking to lose weight post-pregnancy, it is advised to not do so during the first 3 months of breastfeeding.
Losing weight will also be an issue as the hormonal changes in the body can either lead to overeating or simply not losing body fat. However, you will start losing weight in the 3-6 months, compared to mothers who are not breastfeeding.
So, to keep yourself well-nourished without affecting the milk quality and composition, you need to make a diet in accordance to your body requirements.
Important Food Sources to Consume While Breastfeeding
The essential nutrients for breastfeeding mothers come from the main sources like fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat, and whole grains.
According to What To Expect, “since a varied diet changes the taste and smell of your milk, it will expose your baby to many different flavors (so the carrots, Thai or salsa you’re eating today may have your baby reaching for those foods in the future). In fact, expanding your little one’s culinary horizons well before she starts solids might even lower the potential for pickiness.”
Sources of Nutrition for Breastfeeding Mothers
A breastfeeding woman’s body requires about 1,300 mg of calcium per day.
The different sources of calcium can be found in dairy and other products like milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu or fortified orange juice. Since a glass of milk is about 300 calories, you can do the required math and consume enough calcium per day.
Protein is an important source of nutrition for breastfeeding mothers and should consume at least 2-3 servings per day.
The dietary source of protein is present in poultry, seafood, meat, beans, and dairy. However, stay away from fish like king mackerel, tilefish, shark, etc. as they are high in mercury content and aren’t good for breastfeeding mothers.
Minerals And Vitamins
Mothers nursing their babies need good quantities of multivitamins which has 100% of Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).
You can also go back to your pre-natal mineral or vitamin supplement for a wholesome intake.
Stay wary of the different side effects in the form of constipation or stomach upsets. In that case, you can opt for general multivitamins per your RDA.
Intake of Vitamin C is also of prime importance for nursing mothers, with around 115 milligrams vitamin C required per day for women who are 18 or younger and about 120 milligrams for women aged 19 and above.
The sources of vitamin C include bell peppers, broccoli, citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi, cabbage, etc.
Another important source of nourishment for nursing mothers is Iron.
Ranging from 10 milligrams for 18 and under to about 9 milligrams for women over 19 is a statutory requirement. The sources of iron are found in meat, seafood, poultry, dry fruits or egg yolks.
Keeping your body well hydrated is a must for nursing mothers. An average of 8 cups is required to be consumed by mothers each day.
You should also add other useful liquids like fresh juices, healthy soups, milk, herbal teas, etc.
Conditions like hot temperatures, hectic schedules may need you to consume more liquids. So, balance the fluid intake according to your needs.
Foods to Avoid While Nursing
There are a few foods nursing mothers should avoid while they are breastfeeding their child. The list includes the following:
Consuming about 1-2 cups of tea, coffee or soda won’t do any harm to both you and the baby. Any amount more than that will lead to sleep deprivation and being irritable.
Alcohol makes its way into your breast milk. Hence it is advisable to not consume alcohol.
While one unit of alcohol takes about 1-2 hours to clear from your system you can time yourself so as to enjoy a drink without affecting your breastfeeding routine.
It is advisable to eat fresh produce to get maximum dietary nutrients.
Avoid eating processed foods as they contain a lot of preservatives and additives which are not good for the health and the health of your baby.
By Roselin Raj
About the Author
Roselin is a journalist and a writer by profession who has been in the business for a decade. She has been writing extensively on health and wellness related topics. Besides her professional interests, she loves a game of basketball or a good hike in her free time to fuel her spirits. “Health is wealth” is her one motto of life, which she lives by as well as advocates it to every reader, who comes across her blogs.