Milk production can burn up to 500 calories a day. While breast milk will meet your baby's nutritional needs regardless of what you eat, your own strength, stamina, and health will benefit from a healthy diet. You should also avoid starting a diet to lose weight while you're breastfeeding. A reduced-calorie diet during breastfeeding can lower your energy and milk supply.
How much water should a breastfeeding mom drink?
A breastfeeding mother needs more water to compensate for the fluid she loses from breastfeeding. You can drink water, juice, or other non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages. It's best to drink frequently, preferably before you feel thirsty, and drink more if your urine appears dark yellow. Have a glass of water nearby when you breastfeed your baby.
Breastfeeding meal plan
A healthy breastfeeding diet means eating optimal amounts of a variety of foods that contain essential nutrients and fiber. You can mix it up from day to day for variety, but make sure you are getting the nutrients you need every day.
- Protein (lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds) — 3 servings per day
- Calcium (dairy products, tofu, dried fruit, spinach, and legumes) — 5 servings per day (If your diet has less than 3 servings per day, you should also take a calcium supplement with vitamin D.)
- Iron-rich foods (beef and chicken liver, oysters, tuna, tofu, lentils, spinach) — 1 or more servings per day
- Foods rich in vitamin C (guava, sweet pepper, oranges, strawberries, papaya, broccoli) — 2 servings per day
- Green leafy vegetables and yellow fruits — 3–4 servings per day
- Other fruits and vegetables — 1 or more servings per day
- Whole-grain foods and other complex carbohydrates — 3 or more servings per day
- Small amounts of healthy fats such as canola oil, olive oil, and fatty fish as well as avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds
- Omega-3s & DHA-rich foods to promote baby's brain growth — 8 to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish and seafood, such as salmon, shrimp, light tuna, tilapia, catfish, crab, and scallops. (You can also get omega-3s from DHA-enriched eggs, seaweed, and chia seeds.)
Are there any foods to avoid while breastfeeding?
While you can find many lists of foods to avoid while breastfeeding on the internet, the truth is you can eat almost any foods as long as they are nutritious, and both you and your baby can tolerate them.
The only exemption might be fish with high levels of mercury, like shark, tilefish, mackerel, and solid white or albacore tuna. It's best to limit the consumption of this kind of fish because mercury can affect the infant's nervous system.
Supplements for breastfeeding mothers
The World Health Organization recommends that mothers with specific micronutrient deficiencies take supplements to support their health and the health of their infant. But even if you don't have any vitamin or mineral deficiency, you may choose to supplement your diet.
Health professionals advise all pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to take 400 units of vitamin D daily. The same supplements are recommended for infants starting at 6 months of age. Children born with a low birth weight may be recommended vitamin D supplementation even before 6 months.