A proper breastfeeding diet is essential to production of nutritious mother’s milk for the newborn child. With a few simple tips, any mother can create a breastfeeding diet plan that will keep her healthy, her child well fed, and even aid in post-pregnancy weight loss.
Breastfeeding Diet: The Basics
The breastfeeding diet is similar to the diet prescribed for pregnancy. High-calorie and high-nutrition are the most important factors. The calorie intake should be approximately 500 calories above pre-pregnancy levels. Many of these calories should come from protein sources (approximately 1 gram for every pound of mother’s body weight), and mothers should continue taking pre-natal vitamins.
High calcium foods such as yogurt, cheese and milk should also be included. When choosing fruits and vegetables, a wide variety of colors are needed, and when choosing carbohydrates, whole grains are the best choice. Beverage consumption is also very important. Any breastfeeding diet plan should include plenty of water, milk and other nutritious beverages. The goal is 3 quarts of caffeine-free liquids per day.
Breastfeeding Diet: Affects on Breast Milk
There are foods known to affect the breast milk. Some of these foods may not agree with the newborn, and they should be avoided or the child’s reaction should be monitored for discomfort. Some of these foods are:
- citrus fruit
- gassy vegetables (cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli)
Foods to Avoid
There are definite breastfeeding foods to avoid in any breastfeeding diet plan. Mothers should not consume any herbs or other supplements without a doctor’s consent. Mother’s should also abstain from fish with high levels of mercury. Alcohol, of course, should be avoided. While not a “food,” cigarettes should be avoided by nursing mothers. Cigarettes reduce breast milk production and can induce vomiting, restlessness, increases in heart rate, and diarrhea in the newborn. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is also more often found in the children who have mothers that smoke.
Breastfeeding Diet and Weight Loss
The breastfeeding diet is primed for weight loss. There is no need for the nursing mother to decrease her calorie intake more then the recommended 500 calories above pre-pregnancy levels (unless instructed by a physician). The newborn ingests approximately 650 calories per day from breast milk. This creates 150 calorie deficiency in the mother while maintaining milk production for the child. The most important thing is that milk production remains in tact.
Mothers should not begin a weight loss plan for the first two months of the child’s life. If the mother follows a healthy breastfeeding diet, the most weight loss will be experienced in the first 3 to 6 months. The goal should be 1 pound per week after 6 months, to maintain health and energy levels.
Gentle exercise may be introduced and will not have any negative effects on the breast milk. In fact, women who begin exercise, after the suggested postpartum recovery time, experience higher milk production then mothers who do not exercise. Weight loss medications or supplements are not recommended.