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Thursday, 23 August 2018
A healthy breastfeeding diet is essentially the same as a nutritious diet when not breastfeeding. The main difference is that people who are breastfeeding need more calories.
When breastfeeding, a person requires around 450 to 500 extra calories per day. People who wish to lose weight after pregnancy may not need to increase their calorie intake while breastfeeding, but they should discuss this with their doctor.
Specific nutrients, such as iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and D, are particularly beneficial when breastfeeding. Eating a wide variety of foods is also essential, as this will expose the baby to different tastes and may result in them being more receptive to solid foods later on.
What to eat while breastfeeding
No single diet will be ideal for everyone who is breastfeeding. The goal should be to eat a healthful, varied diet. When breastfeeding, aim to include the following foods in each day's meals:
Grapefruits and oranges are good sources of essential nutrients.
Fruits are a rich source of many nutrients. They may also help relieve constipation, which some people experience after giving birth. Aim for about 2 cups of fruit per day, which should include a wide variety of different fruits.
The following fruits are recommended as these are all excellent sources of potassium, and some also contain vitamin A:
· honeydew melon
· red or pink grapefruit
People who are exclusively breastfeeding should aim to eat 3 cups of vegetables a day. Those who are combining breastfeeding with formula-feeding should eat 2.5 cups of vegetables each day.
Vegetables are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Consuming a sufficient quantity will help the body to replenish the nutrients it needs to make milk.
The the following vegetables are recommended due to their potassium and vitamin A content:
· cooked greens, such as kale and collards
· sweet potatoes
· red sweet peppers
Grains offer vital nutrients, especially whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread.
Some grains, such as quinoa, are also high in protein, which is an essential nutrient to eat when breastfeeding.
Fortified cereals provide added nutrients and are also a good option. It is best to stick to whole-grain cereals that do not contain added sugar.
When breastfeeding, the body requires an extra 25 grams of protein per day and at least 65 g per day in total.
Experts recommend including some protein with every meal.
Recommended sources of protein include:
· beans and peas
· nuts and seeds
· lean beef, pork, and lamb
· oysters, crab, and mussels
· salmon, herring, pollock, sardines, and trout
Seafood is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can support healthy brain development in the baby. Salmon, sardines, and trout are excellent choices because they are high in omega-3s but low in mercury.
People who are breastfeeding should avoid other fish, such as albacore tuna, swordfish, shark, and king mackerel, which are high in mercury. Other forms of tuna are safe to eat.
Both pregnancy and breastfeeding can leach calcium from the bones. This puts people at risk of osteoporosis if they do not get enough calcium and vitamin D. Dairy products, such as cheese and milk, are excellent sources of calcium, and many have added vitamin D.
People who are breastfeeding should aim for a minimum of 3 cups of dairy products each day. The following are good sources of vitamin D and calcium:
· natural cheese
People who do not eat dairy can also get calcium from dark leafy greens, beans, and fortified orange juice.
The sun is a primary source of vitamin D, but consuming mushrooms and oily fish can increase intake. Supplements may also be beneficial.
A doctor can offer advice about taking nutritional supplements while breastfeeding.
In most cases, a well-balanced diet should provide all the nutrients that a person who is breastfeeding needs.
However, nutritional demands increase when breastfeeding, so some people may need vitamin and mineral supplements.
It is important to note that supplements cannot replace a healthful diet. People who are breastfeeding should speak with their doctor before taking any herbal or dietary supplements.
People who have dietary restrictions or follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle should also be mindful of certain vitamins and minerals that may be missing from their diet. Anyone who is concerned about meeting all of their nutritional needs should speak to a dietician.
Other diet tips
Many people worry that they have to measure food portions, or that missing a few nutrients will affect their ability to make enough milk. However, people all around the world are able to produce milk with a wide variety of diets. The goal should be a well-rounded diet, not a perfect one.
It is crucial to drink plenty of water, especially in the first few weeks after the birth when some people are so overwhelmed and distracted that they forget to drink. The need for fluid also increases when breastfeeding.
Not drinking enough fluids can lead to dehydration and may even affect milk supply.
People who are breastfeeding can remind themselves to drink by keeping a bottle of water in each room in the house. They should also have a water cup within easy reach of the place they tend to breastfeed.
Source: Medical News Today, by Zawn Villines, reviewed by Natalie Olsen, RD, LD, ACSM EP-C