As a mom-to-be, you did your best these past nine months not giving into all of your pregnancy cravings for unhealthy foods. Now that you’re breastfeeding, a healthy, balanced diet still applies so your baby can get the nutrients he needs to grow and develop. Even though you’re no longer pregnant, in some ways, you’re still eating for two. Let’s get to know what foods should be on your menu and don’t be afraid to take second helpings if you need them. You’ll need the extra calories for energy as you breastfeed. Here are some tips to follow to make sure you both get proper nutrition.
Build a Nutrient-Rich Diet with a Variety of Foods
Are you considered what some would call a “picky eater?” Being open to eating a variety of foods has its benefits. What you eat changes the flavor of the breast milk he consumes and it helps him accept the introduction to these solid foods later on. Don’t be afraid to mix up your food choices but keep these servings in mind.
- 3 Servings of Protein such as lean meats, dairy, seafood (low in mercury), beans and lentils
- 5 Servings of calcium such as milk, yogurt and cheese
- 1 Serving of iron (or more) such as red meat, pork and poultry
- 2 Servings of vitamin C such as sweet potatoes, broccoli, strawberries and oranges
- 3-5 Servings of fruits and veggies, making the majority of those servings green leafy vegetables and yellow fruit
- 3 Servings (or more) of complex carbohydrates such as whole grains
- Healthy fats in small amounts such as avocados, olives, nuts, seeds and cooking oils
- 2-3 Servings of omega-3, or DHA-rich foods, important for his brain and eye development. Two examples include salmon and trace amounts found in eggs.
Keep yourself hydrated with 8 cups of decaffeinated, non-sugary and non-alcoholic liquids. A great way to make sure you’re getting enough to drink is to have a glass of water at each nursing time.
Tips for a Vegetarian and Vegan Diet
Regardless of your dietary restrictions, you’ll want to focus on food options you can eat that are rich in the nutrients listed above. Look for enriched or fortified products for those you might be missing. Juices, cereals, soy milk, soy yogurt and tofu often come calcium-enriched for example. Supplements are another consideration for getting a recommended amount of vitamins. Work with your healthcare provider to find the best options.
Tips for Seafood Lovers
Whether you’re trying to incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet or seafood is heavily consumed in your household, avoid the types of fish known to be high in mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Opt for salmon, pollock, catfish, shrimp dishes or canned light tuna for sandwiches instead. For fish caught locally, the USDA suggests checking local advisories for more information.
What You Should Know About Alcohol and Caffeine
It’s been a long nine months and we know you’re probably ready to get back to your wine and lattes, but you’ll need to watch your intake. While sticking to non-alcoholic drinks is the easy option, you can partake in moderate alcohol consumption. According to the CDC, one standard drink per day requires waiting at least two hours before nursing. The more you consume, the longer it takes before you can nurse. Protip: Breastfeed before you plan to partake in any alcohol. You can also bottle-feed him from a pre-pumped supply of breastmilk you have on hand to take the worry out of waiting.
If that cup of coffee is calling to you, especially after those sleepless nights, it’s okay to indulge. However, just like alcohol, moderation is key with caffeine. Limit your intake to no more than 300 mg daily. Keep in mind this applies to other goods that contain caffeine as well such as chocolates and sodas.