It's always important to have the proper diet. With a balanced diet, you are adding years to your life. But it is even more important when you are breastfeeding. It's a good thing that there are so many best foods for breastfeeding mothers that you can include in your diet.
Are you pregnant or a new mother and thinking of breastfeeding your child? You are making the right decision as breastmilk is really best for babies, especially in the first months of their lives.
Why is the food you are eating important in your breastfeeding journey? Because whatever you eat will not just affect you but your baby as well. Did you know that your breastmilk will usually be flavored with whatever food you eat? That's why there are studies that have shown that babies who were breastfed may be less picky with their foods.
That is because they have already been exposed to a lot of flavors even while they are still young. You must also remember that while it is simple, breastfeeding expends energy, so you will need to compensate for that loss by eating more calories.
Are there foods that must be avoided? In the same way that there were certain foods that you were not allowed to eat while you were pregnant, the same is true now. But the good news is that things are not so restrictive now unlike before.
For example, you may be allowed to consume caffeine and alcohol, but it has to be within the limits of course. If you are going to drink coffee or anything with caffeine, you need to remember that your baby will also consume it and this may cause them to be fussy.
The same is true with alcohol. You need to time when you will have it so that your baby won't be able to have them. If you are going to drink you need to wait at least three hours before you can breastfeed your baby, to be sure that the alcohol has already left your bloodstream.
Other foods that you might want to avoid include peppermint and parsley, as they may affect your milk supply. Babies also do not like the taste of garlic, and gassy foods like Brussel sprouts may aggravate your baby especially if they are prone to having colic.
One thing you have to be wary of is the fish you eat. Some types are okay to eat because they are good sources of omega-3, but others like swordfish and mackerel may have higher levels of mercury so you need to steer clear of them.
Before you read the list of best foods for breastfeeding mothers, one thing you must always remember to consume is water. While it does not help increase your milk supply, it will give you energy.
If you are dehydrated, you will feel more sluggish than usual. Water also helps your body to recover from the stress it took during the childbirth process.
Table of Contents
Best Foods for Breastfeeding Mothers
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Salmon and Sardines
- Sweet Potatoes
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Brown Rice
Breastfeeding mothers will need to have at least 1000mg of calcium daily. While we typically associate calcium with dairy products, nuts are actually good sources of calcium.
They are also a lot of vitamins and essential minerals that a mother's body will need. Add to the fact that many countries in the world consider nuts as a galactagogue, meaning it helps with milk production.
The next time that you are looking for a snack, try to have walnuts or almonds instead of reaching for chips or cookies. But be careful if anyone in the family has a history of nut allergy as it may also affect. your child.
If you are not a first-time mom, you probably remember just how hungry you always feel when you were breastfeeding. As explained, breastfeeding expends energy that's why you need more calorie intake than normal if you are a nursing mom.
Avocados are perfect because not only are they healthy but they make you feel full longer. It is full of not just fiber but healthy fast as well.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are good sources of vitamin A, calcium, folate, and many more. They are also easily added to your diet.
They can be consumed in liquid form if you make them into a smoothie. You can also add them to your omelets for breakfast or a side dish for your main meals. Here are other delicious ways to eat dark leafy greens that you can try.
Although there is not a lot of scientific evidence that outright says taht mushrooms are galactagogues, some varieties do contain beta-glucan which is also found in foods like oats and barley. These two are considered lactogenic foods so we can say taht mushrooms may have the same effect.
The best mushrooms you can add to your diet include shiitake, shimeji, and oyster mushrooms.
Beef is a good source of protein but you need to take into mind that it may increase your risk for certain diseases. To minimize that risk, buy the lean cuts of beef instead.
Beef is also a good source of iron and zinc, the latter of which is important in maintaining a healthy immune system as well as helping your body heal damaged tissues.
Eggs are another source of healthy fats. They are also rich in protein and other vitamins. But if you will add eggs to your diet, take note that they have to be well-cooked. There is a risk of salmonella if you eat raw or undercooked eggs.
Also, egg allergy is quite common. If you or anyone in your family has an egg allergy, it is better to consult with your doctor in order to check that it is safe for you and your baby.
There are signs you can watch out for like diarrhea or vomiting. If this happens, get it checked right away so that you know what foods you need to avoid.
Salmon and Sardines
We all know the many benefits that omega-3 fatty acids can give to us. But that is not the only thing that you can get from salmon and sardine. These two fishes are great because they do not have high mercury levels compared to others.
It is also a source of vitamin D, which is very important to make sure that your bones stay healthy and strong. Most women are found to have a deficiency in vitamin D, which can increase the risk of diseases like hypertension, cancer, and diabetes.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A which babies need for proper growth and development. Because they are born with low levels of this vitamin, mothers need to make sure that their diet has foods with lots of vitamin A.
There are many ways to cook sweet potatoes too. You can have them roasted or baked as a side dish. Thanksgiving tables are usually filled with mashed sweet potatoes or sweet potato pie.
Most new mothers do not have the luxury of time to prepare and cook full meals as their focus is mostly on their babies. For days when you are too tired, grab a container of yogurt and just top it with some fresh fruits like apricots or strawberries.
Yogurt not only contains probiotics that promote gut health but also has a lot of calcium which is needed by nursing mothers. But like eggs and other dairy products, you need to make sure that your baby will not have an adverse reaction to it.
If you are tired of nuts for your snacks, you can also try seeds! they are just as containing vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc. It's not just pumpkin seeds that you can have.
There are other seeds like chia, hemp, and flaxseeds that you can also try. The latter, in particular, is recognized as one of the best lactogenic foods for nursing mothers. But you need to make sure that they are ground because the body has a hard time digesting whole flaxseeds.
Ginger is another ingredient that many mothers use to increase their milk supply. For some mothers who may still be feeling nauseous after delivery, ginger may help alleviate the symptoms.
Aside from that ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties and can even boost a mom's immunity. YOu can take ginger as tea or as an ingredient in your cooking, such as in this recipe for Steamed Ginger and Blackbean Pork.
Fruits are always a good choice because they are full of vitamin C, and berries are abundant in those. Blueberries, for example, are also a source of carbohydrates.
You can have around two servings a day of these berries. So reach for them as a snack to tide you over until the next meal.
Breastfeeding mothers need carbohydrates for energy, also if you try to eliminate carbs from your diet, your milk supply may dwindle. Breastfeeding women need around 210 grams of carbohydrates per day.
But not all carbs are the same. It's better to stick to complex carbohydrates like whole grains, for example, oatmeal and brown rice. They do not have the added sugars from refined grains like white bread and white rice.
Not only will you have the needed energy, but you will feel full longer.
Other Tips For Breastfeeding Mothers
Your diet is just one of the things you can change in order to ensure that your breastfeeding journey is a success. Here are some more tips you can follow to help calm your anxieties and worries.
Make sure that your baby knows how to latch properly
This is a very simple step but it is very crucial. If your baby does not know how to latch, he or she will not be able to properly get the breastmilk from you.
To encourage the proper latch, make sure that your baby is turned toward you, and that their stomach is touching yours. Bring your nipple to them so that their mouth will be open wide. remember their mouths should engulf not just your nipple but the areola as well.
Also, if you are planning to use the bottle, offer it after at least four weeks, but no later than 8. If you wait too long, they might already refuse the bottle.
This cannot be stressed enough. It's not just you that needs to be comfortable but your baby as well. You might not realize it, but your baby is very attuned to you and they know when you are stressed or anxious. If this happens, they might also feel fussy and not able to latch properly. Being stressed can also affect your milk production.
If you are at home, the easiest thing you can do is to lie down on the bed or couch. You need to be on your side and your baby is facing you. This is a great position that is relaxing for both mommy and baby. Make sure to put a pillow behind you to support your back.
You may also be seated, but it would be better to be in a reclined position so you can be more relaxed.
Ask for help
It's normal to feel overwhelmed at times, especially if you are a new parent. If you are at a loss in some areas of your journey, it does not hurt to ask for help. There are lactation experts who can teach you everything you need to know about properly breastfeeding your baby.
You can also ask other mothers for advice. There are many forums that give practical tips to help mothers adjust to their new reality. Ask your partner if there are days when you want to take a break and not feed.
This can happen especially when your nipples may hurt too much. Make sure to still pump your milk as your breasts will hurt if they are engorged.