Nutrition for the Breastfeeding Mom
If you have a good diet for the most part, you will produce healthy breast milk for your baby, even if you don't eat well at times. Similar to pregnancy, your baby will be pulling the nutrients from your body, so it is important to be replacing them for your health, and ultimately the baby’s. Vitamin levels in your milk should remain normal by improving your diet and/or by taking vitamin supplements. It is recommended that nursing mothers take in about 2700 calories every day (about 500 calories more than a non-pregnant, non-nursing woman. Look for Whole Grain choices for your carbohydrates rather than their refined alternatives. Be sure to include a minimum of 7 Fruits and vegetables in your diet each day. Lean proteins, calcium rich foods, vegetables, whole grains, fruits and quality dairy products should make up your choices for your snacks and meals. Remember that B vitamins have been known to stimulate milk production.For more information on having a healthy diet, see the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines).
Many dieticians now suggest using the new USDA “Choose My Plate” program to determine your personal and individual caloric requirement for breastfeeding. The Choose My Plate site can be found at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html. By registering with this site, you can determine your caloric need based on your baby’s age, your age, your height and weight and how much you exercise. You then enter if you are exclusively breastfeeding or providing both your milk and formula. When you complete the questions on the site, it will show you the caloric requirement for you along with the correct portion size and how many servings a day you need in each of the food groups. It also has more information on fluid requirement and vitamins for each individual.
When you are paying attention to what you eat, it is clearly a value to you and your baby. Sometimes there are nutritious foods that we eat which are known to make baby uncomfortable. Broccoli is a perfect example of a known quality food that may encourage gassiness. Here's how to tell if something you are eating is upsetting your baby:Remember - It takes about two to six hours for your body to digest and absorb the food you eat and pass it into your breast milk. So, if you eat dinner at 5:00 PM, and your baby starts to show fussing and signs of being uncomfortable at around 9:00 PM, think about what you ate for dinner. To be sure those foods are really causing the problem, you will eventually have to eat them again and see if baby has the same reaction. If you think a particular food is upsetting your baby, stop eating that food for a while and see if your baby seems to feel better. You can always re- introduce that food again into your diet in small amounts. If your baby doesn't seem to react negatively to it anymore, you could add a little more the next time you eat that food and gradually increase amounts according to your baby’s comfort level.
The importance of Water for the Breastfeeding Mom
Drinking water and staying hydrated is important for your health so you can maintain your strength to take care of your baby. You don’t have to drink a lot of water or fluids to keep up a good milk supply, but… you should consider drinking the standard eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day. Ideally, you should drink to your thirst while nursing and breastfeeding baby. It’s a good rule of thumb to always drink when you are thirsty and acknowledge that “thirsty” signal from your body that you need fluid. To be sure you are getting enough fluids, try to drink a glass of water, or nutritious beverage each time you breastfeed or express your milk.