Diet Plan For Breastfeeding Mom

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Diet plan for breastfeeding mom will help you maintain the right balance of macronutrients and micronutrients in your everyday diet. Such a diet will encourage your body to produce the maximum amount of breast milk while minimizing your baby’s need for supplementary feedings.

Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers

Many breastfeeding mothers wonder if the foods they eat will affect their breast milk.

Perhaps you’ve wondered if it is necessary to avoid certain foods to prevent digestive problems or allergies in your baby. Or maybe you wonder if you need to eat special foods to make the right amount of milk or the best quality milk for your baby.

The good news is that your milk will probably be just right for your baby regardless of what you eat. Your body knows exactly what nutrition your baby needs at every stage of development.

How many calories do you need when you’re breastfeeding?

Your body generally burns around 300 to 500 extra calories a day while you’re breastfeeding depending on whether you’re nursing exclusively or not. If you are, it’s typically up to 450 to 500.

So while you don’t need to be hyper-vigilant about counting calories and consuming more, definitely keep your extra nutritional needs while nursing in mind. If you stayed within your doctor’s recommended weight gain during pregnancy, you shouldn’t have to take in any more or less than that, but check with your practitioner if you’re not sure.

What to eat

  • Include protein foods 2-3 times per day such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, nuts and seeds.
  • Eat three servings of vegetables, including dark green and yellow vegetables per day.
  • Eat two servings of fruit per day.
  • Include whole grains such as whole wheat breads, pasta, cereal and oatmeal in your daily diet.
  • Drink water to satisfy your thirst. Many women find they are thirsty while breastfeeding; however, forcing yourself to drink fluids does not increase your supply.
  • Dietary restrictions from pregnancy do not apply to breastfeeding moms.
  • Vegetarian diets can be compatible with breastfeeding. If you avoid meat, make sure you eat other sources of iron and zinc such as dried beans, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and dairy. If you avoid all animal products (vegan diet) you will need to take a B12 supplement to make sure your baby does not develop a B12 deficiency.

How much to eat

  • Breastfeeding requires extra calories. If you still have baby weight from your pregnancy, these extra calories will naturally be used for your milk. If you have lost all your baby weight, you may need to eat an extra 500-600 calories per day. After your baby starts eating other foods at 6 months, you will be making less milk and you can cut back on your calorie intake.

Alcohol and breastfeeding

Looking forward to pouring an occasional glass of wine at the end of a long day? Although some alcohol does find its way into your breast milk, it’s considerably less than what you drink. Wine, beer and hard liquor can be safe to drink while you’re nursing (in moderation, of course). A few tips:

  • Nurse first, drink later. Aim to sip right after you’ve nursed rather than before, if possible. You want to wait two hours after having one drink to allow the alcohol time to metabolize. (“Pumping and dumping” doesn’t speed up the process, so it’s not necessary.)  
  • Aim to limit yourself to a few drinks a week at most. Moderation is key. Heavy drinking may cause drowsiness, weakness and excessive weight gain in infants, can change the taste of your milk and decrease how much baby nurses, can impair your own functioning so you are less able to care for your baby, and can weaken your let-down reflex.
  • Test yourself. Not sure whether your milk is alcohol-free at the moment? Test it using Milk screen test strips. If it comes back positive, raid your freezer for some stored breast milk instead.

Alcohol and caffeine

  • If you wish to drink alcohol, wait 2-3 hours after each serving (12 oz. beer, 6 oz. wine, 1.5 oz. liquor) before breastfeeding/pumping. Alcohol does not stay in your milk. It is removed as your blood alcohol levels go down. When you are sober, the alcohol is gone from your milk. If you are feeling the effects of alcohol and your breasts are full, you may need to “pump and dump.”
  • Caffeine is passed into your milk but most babies are not bothered by it. If your baby isn’t sleeping well or is irritable, you may want to limit or avoid caffeine. Newborns may be more sensitive to caffeine than older babies.

Vitamins and breastfeeding

Everyone, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D.

From late March/April to the end of September, the majority of people aged 5 years and above will probably get enough vitamin D from sunlight when they are outdoors. So you might choose not to take a vitamin D supplement during these months

You can get all the other vitamins and minerals you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

Ask your GP or health visitor where to get vitamin D supplements. You may be able to get free vitamin supplements without a prescription if you’re eligible for Healthy Start.

You’re entitled to free NHS prescriptions for 12 months after your baby is born. You will need to show a valid maternity exemption certificate to prove your entitlement.

If you did not apply for a maternity exemption certificate while you were pregnant, you can still apply at any time in the 12 months after your baby is born.

A nourishing meal plan for breastfeeding Mums

When you are breastfeeding, your body will benefit from extra energy (calories or kilojoules) to produce breast milk and feed your baby. By nourishing yourself well, you support your body to produce good quality breast milk in the right quantities for your baby to thrive. Remember, the more you breastfeed your baby, the more breastmilk your body will make.

Below are some healthy options for different mealtimes and snacks. On some days you may feel ravenous and you’ll need to eat more food than other days! That’s OK, everyone is different and everyone has different appetites. Remember to drink plenty of water as you can become easily dehydrated during breastfeeding. Aim for at least 8 glasses of liquids over the day to stay well hydrated. Water is ideal, but very diluted juice or low-fat milk are also good choices.

A nourishing meal plan for breastfeeding Mums

Breakfast

It easy to skip breakfast, but it means you miss out on that energy boost to start the day. Here are some wholesome suggestions:

  • Wholegrain cereal with low fat milk or yoghurt e.g. wheat biscuits, porridge or natural muesli. Look for higher fibre cereals which keep you fuller for longer, also look for added folic acid and iron.
  • Toast topped with fruit spread, mashed banana or peanut butter, or scrambled/poached/soft boiled eggs. Wholemeal or wholegrain bread is good because it’s higher in fibre and B vitamins
  • Fresh fruit salad & yoghurt, and a large handful of chopped nuts.

Plus drink a glass of water, low fat milk, diluted juice or a cup of tea or coffee if you like (see information about safe caffeine intake)

 Mid morning

Choose a snack from the following suggestions:

  • A pottle of low fat fruit yoghurt & a piece of fruit
  • A few crackers and cheese slices (Edam or cottage cheese is lower in fat) & a piece of fruit
  • 1- 2 handfuls of unroasted nuts and raisins/dried apricots

Plus drink a  glass of water, or low fat milk, or diluted juice to keep you hydrated. Have a cup of tea or coffee if you like.

Lunch

Make sure you have enough fuel to keep you going throughout the day – even if you’re busy, lunch is something you should always make time for. Try:

  • A wholegrain bread sandwich – include a protein filling like cooked lean meat, edam cheese, or a hard boiled egg, and salad greens & tomato.
  • A cheese & tomato or baked bean toasted sandwich
  • A bowl of thick vegetable soup with toast & olive oil spread
  • Add in a piece of fresh fruit
  • And a pottle of fruit yoghurt or a few crackers with cheese if you’re still peckish

Plus drink a  glass of water, or low fat milk, or diluted juice to keep you hydrated.

Mid afternoon

Choose a snack from the following suggestions:

  • A slice of wholegrain toast with cottage cheese and fruit spread, or peanut butter and sliced banana.
  • 1-2 handfuls of unroasted nuts and dried fruit
  • A fruit smoothie made with reduced fat milk & yoghurt & fruit

Plus drink a  glass of water, or low fat milk, or diluted juice to keep you hydrated. Have a cup of tea or coffee if you like (see information about safe caffeine intake).

Dinner

An ideal dinner provides a wide range of nutrients – your body is constantly using up energy, even over night so regular meals are important.

  • Include a serving (about the size of your palm) of cooked lean meat, chicken or fish, or cooked eggs, tofu, legumes (lentils, dried beans and peas).
  • Add some starchy carbohydrate food like potato, kumara, rice or pasta
  • Add plenty of cooked vegetables, or salad

Plus drink a glass of water, or low fat milk, or diluted juice to keep you hydrated.

Supper

  • 2 plain biscuits or a slice of fruit loaf
  • Fruit salad topped with natural yoghurt
  • Low- fat custard and stewed apple
  • A cup of warm low fat milk, hot chocolate or a weak milky cup of tea

Best Food For Breastfeeding

If you’re breastfeeding, you’re giving your baby nutrients that will promote growth and health. You might have questions, however, about what foods and drinks are best for you — and how your diet might affect your breast milk and your baby.

Understand the basics of breastfeeding nutrition.

Do I need extra calories while breastfeeding?

Yes, you might need to eat a little more — about an additional 330 to 400 calories a day — to give you the energy and nutrition to produce milk.

To get these extra calories, opt for nutrient-rich choices, such as a slice of whole-grain bread with a tablespoon (about 16 grams) of peanut butter, a medium banana or apple, and 8 ounces (about 227 grams) of yogurt.

What foods should I eat while breastfeeding?

Focus on making healthy choices to help fuel your milk production. Opt for protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils and seafood low in mercury. Choose a variety of whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables.

Eating a variety of foods while breastfeeding will change the flavor of your breast milk. This will expose your baby to different tastes, which might help him or her more easily accept solid foods down the road.

To make sure you and your baby are getting all of the vitamins you need, your health care provider might recommend continuing to take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement until you wean your baby.

How much fluid do I need while breastfeeding?

Drink when you are thirsty, and drink more if your urine appears dark yellow. You might drink a glass of water or another beverage every time you breastfeed.

Be wary of juices and sugary drinks, however. Too much sugar can contribute to weight gain — or sabotage your efforts to lose pregnancy weight. Too much caffeine can be troublesome, too. Limit yourself to no more than 2 to 3 cups (16 to 24 ounces) of caffeinated drinks a day. Caffeine in your breast milk might agitate your baby or interfere with your baby’s sleep.

What about a vegetarian diet and breastfeeding?

If you follow a vegetarian diet, it’s especially important to choose foods that’ll give you the nutrients you need. For example:

  • Choose foods rich in iron, protein and calcium. Good sources of iron include lentils, enriched cereals, leafy green vegetables, peas, and dried fruit, such as raisins. To help your body absorb iron, eat iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits.For protein, consider plant sources, such as soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Eggs and dairy are other options.Good sources of calcium include dairy products and dark green vegetables. Other options include calcium-enriched and -fortified products, such as juices, cereals, soy milk, soy yogurt and tofu.
  • Consider supplements. Your health care provider will likely recommend a daily vitamin B-12 supplement. Vitamin B-12 is found almost exclusively in animal products, so it’s difficult to get enough in vegetarian diets. If you don’t eat fish, you might consider talking to your health care provider about taking an omega-3 supplement.If you don’t eat enough vitamin D-fortified foods — such as cow’s milk and some cereals — and you have limited sun exposure, you might need vitamin D supplements. Your baby needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Too little vitamin D can cause rickets, a softening and weakening of bones. Tell your doctor and your baby’s doctor if you’re also giving your baby a vitamin D supplement.

What foods and drinks should I limit or avoid while breastfeeding?

Certain foods and drinks deserve caution while you’re breastfeeding. For example:

  • Alcohol. There’s no level of alcohol in breast milk that’s considered safe for a baby. If you drink, avoid breastfeeding until the alcohol has completely cleared your breast milk. This typically takes two to three hours for 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of 5% beer, 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of 11% wine or 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 40% liquor, depending on your body weight. Before you drink alcohol, consider pumping milk to feed your baby later.
  • Caffeine. Avoid drinking more than 2 to 3 cups (16 to 24 ounces) of caffeinated drinks a day. Caffeine in your breast milk might agitate your baby or interfere with your baby’s sleep.
  • Fish. Seafood can be a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Most seafood contains mercury or other contaminants, however. Exposure to excessive amounts of mercury through breast milk can pose a risk to a baby’s developing nervous system. To limit your baby’s exposure, avoid seafood that’s high in mercury, including swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

Could my diet cause my baby to be fussy or have an allergic reaction?

Certain foods or drinks in your diet could cause your baby to become irritable or have an allergic reaction. If your baby becomes fussy or develops a rash, diarrhea or wheezing soon after nursing, consult your baby’s health care provider.

If you suspect that something in your diet might be affecting your baby, avoid the food or drink for up to a week to see if it makes a difference in your baby’s behavior. Avoiding certain foods, such as garlic, onions or cabbage, might help.

Remember, there’s no need to go on a special diet while you’re breastfeeding. Simply focus on making healthy choices — and you and your baby will reap the rewards.

What to Eat While Breastfeeding

You may be wondering why it’s so important that you follow a heathy, nutrient-dense diet while breastfeeding.

In addition to promoting your overall health, a healthy diet is essential for ensuring that your baby is getting all the nutrients they need to thrive.

With the exception of vitamin D, breast milk contains everything your baby needs for proper development during the first 6 months.

But if your overall diet does not provide sufficient nutrients, it can affect both the quality of your breast milk and your own health.

There’s a reason why your hunger levels may be at an all-time high when breastfeeding your new baby. Creating breast milk is demanding on the body and requires extra overall calories, as well as higher levels of specific nutrients.

In fact, it’s estimated that your energy needs during breastfeeding increase by about 500 calories per day. The need for specific nutrients, including protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, B12, selenium, and zinc go up as well.

This is why eating a variety of nutrient-dense, whole foods is so important for your health and your baby’s health. Choosing foods rich in the above nutrients can help ensure that you get all the macro- and micronutrients you and your little one need.

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