Breastfeeding is one of the next big steps after pregnancy. The idea is the same as when your baby was still inside you: what you eat, they eat. But to produce a good amount of nutritious milk, you need to consume the right types of food. Aside from knowing the food you should avoid, you must also prioritize what you need to eat while breastfeeding.
Do I need additional calories?
Generally, breastfeeding mothers need an additional 450 to 500 calories a day to produce a healthy amount of breast milk. It is important to not only meet your daily caloric needs, but to reach it by eating healthily. Once babies are 6 months old, mothers may begin to slowly cut back on calories since their babies get additional nutrients from solid food.
What should I eat while breastfeeding?
Here’s what your diet should look like when you’re breastfeeding:
- Consume protein-rich foods 2 to 3 times a day—preferably lean meats such as chicken, lean cuts of pork and beef, fish, eggs, low-mercury seafood, and dairy.
- Include more vegetables in every meal.
- Have at least 2 servings of fruit per day. Avocados are great for breastfeeding moms since they are a superfood and contain healthy fats.
- Eat whole-grain bread, pasta, cereal, or oatmeal every day.
- If you are a vegetarian, make sure to consume foods that are rich in the nutrients that meat can offer. On other hand, if you’re vegan, it is best to take B12 supplements to make sure that your baby will not experience B12 deficiency.
- Stay hydrated and always drink the right amount of water. A lot of mothers become very thirsty while breastfeeding, so quench it by drinking water throughout the day.
Your baby can taste different flavors in your breast milk. Eating a wide variety of food every day will help train their palate for when they start weaning.
Can I drink alcohol and caffeine while breastfeeding?
Alcohol. Drinking alcohol is not prohibited while breastfeeding since it does not stay in breast milk. However, it is worth noting that mothers must refrain from pumping and breastfeeding right after drinking. Instead, you should wait about 2 to 3 hours before nursing your baby. This means that if you feel the need to release your milk immediately after having alcohol, you will have to “pump and dump” (throw out the breast milk).
Caffeine. Small amounts of caffeine can be passed on through your breast milk, though most babies aren’t affected by it. If you observe signs of fussiness and sleeplessness in your child, then your baby might be sensitive to caffeine. If you’re a mother who needs her morning cup of coffee every day, you might want to try decaffeinated substitutes to lessen the presence of caffeine in your breast milk.
Can my baby develop allergies from the food I eat?
There are certain types of food in your diet that might trigger an allergic reaction in your baby. Usually, things like milk, fish, nuts, shellfish, eggs, and wheat can set off an allergic reaction.
If your baby is experiencing hives, rashes, and/or diarrhea, and has been coughing and wheezing, then they are most likely allergic to something. To determine if it’s an allergic reaction from a specific food in your diet, try avoiding the common allergens for about a week. More importantly, consult your pediatrician for an exact diagnosis.
What types of food can increase my milk supply?
Aside from good nutrition, breastfeeding mothers also need food that can help boost their milk supply. Some of the food that may help a mother produce more milk are:
Oatmeal is one of the most popular lactation foods out there. This whole grain is rich in iron, which scientists believe can increase milk production. Try eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast or munching on oatmeal lactation cookies throughout the day.
A lot of mothers claim that garlic can work wonders in breast milk production. Although there is a lack of studies to support this, it is believed that the strong flavor of garlic attracts babies to nurse more, thus stimulating the breasts to make more milk.
Moringa or malunggay is the most popular milk booster in the Philippines. The leaves are natural galactagogues, which promote breast milk production. Breastfeeding Pinays like to include it in different dishes, such as soups, pandesal, and fried foods. Also, there is a wide variety of malunggay products that parents can buy in their local supermarkets.
Lauded for its wide array of health benefits, ginger is another food that helps boost a mother’s breast milk supply. You can make ginger tea by adding fresh ginger root to boiling water and steeping it for about 5 minutes. Add honey and lemon for a milder ginger flavor.
Papayang hilaw or green/unripe papaya is also a galactagogue that helps increase the production of the oxytocin hormone, which regulates the milk-making process.
The fennel plant contains phytoestrogens, a hormone that is quite similar to estrogen. This aids in the increased production of breast milk.
Breastfeeding mothers, especially first-time moms, always wonder about what they should eat while breastfeeding. Although there are no restrictions when it comes to food, it is still advisable that breastfeeding mothers maintain a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. Always keep in mind that the things you consume are also what your baby eats.
There are a lot of accessible and healthy options that help with the production of breast milk. However, if you’re having difficulties with breast milk production or breastfeeding in general, consult a medical professional.
Learn more about Breastfeeding, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.