Diet Throughout Breastfeeding
The majority of mothers are aware of the importance of proper nutrition while they are expecting a baby. The nutritional needs and diet throughout breastfeeding are similar to those of pregnant women in their last trimester, though for different reasons. It is important that you maintain a well-balanced diet throughout breastfeeding.
Proper nutrition to meet YOUR needs
It’s easy to let your diet get off-track when you’re a new mom. After all, your body is healing from childbirth and you need energy to keep up with baby. Rest assured, breast milk can meet your baby's nutritional needs even when you aren’t eating perfectly. However, just because your baby won't be harmed by occasional lapses in your diet throughout breastfeeding doesn't mean that you won't suffer. When you don't get the nutrients you need from your diet, your body draws on its reserves, which can eventually become depleted.
A mother’s ideal diet throughout breastfeeding mirrors the healthy diet that is recommended for most adults — one that is well balanced and gives you the vitamins, nutrition and energy you need to survive sleepless nights and long crying spells. Many breastfeeding moms feel extra hungry, which makes sense. Your body is working around the clock to produce breast milk for your baby. Try to eat small meals with healthy snacks in between, as you may have done while you were pregnant. Variety and balance are key to a well-balanced diet throughout breastfeeding, consuming a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat keeps you feeling full longer.
Vegetarians and Vegans
Breastfeeding Vegetarians and Vegans don’t need to change their nutrition unless they don’t include any animal protein at all (vegan and macrobiotic diets). Since animal protein is the best source of B12, consider taking a vitamin supplement containing vitamin B12 if you don’t want to consume any animal products. If you don’t eat dairy products, you also need to make sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D.
Keep taking your prenatal vitamins
It's a good idea to continue taking your MultiVitamin/MultiMineral supplement while you're breastfeeding. You can discuss this with your physician or healthcare professional at your first postpartum visit.
A supplement doesn't take the place of a well-balanced diet throughout breastfeeding, but it can provide some extra insurance on those days when taking care of your new baby keeps you from eating as well as you'd like.
Calcium and iron
As was the case during pregnancy, proper diet throughout breastfeeding and after delivery may not be enough and you should consider MultiVitamin/MultiMineral supplementation.
Pay particular attention to your calcium and iron intake to stay healthy.
Calcium in needed for your baby’s growth as well as to protect your bone health. Studies have shown that mothers tend to lose bone mass (and calcium) while they’re breastfeeding. And while most mothers regain that bone mass within six months of weaning, one who doesn’t get enough calcium in her diet may not fully regain it.
You need to pay special attention to your iron intake as by the time of your delivery, your iron reserves have dropped dramatically.
If you are anemic, don’t worry that your milk won’t have enough iron for your baby. Breastmilk contains less iron than formula, but the iron is absorbed and used more efficiently, so your baby is less likely to become anemic than a formula fed baby. You may need to take iron supplements to make you feel better, but they will not affect the level of iron in your breastmilk.
Even if you are not breastfeeding, replenishing nutrient stores lost during pregnancy and delivery are important. Your diet may not be adequate to replenish lost nutrients and to assist with your body's healing, so discuss continued MultiVitamin/MultiMineral supplementation after delivery with your healthcare professional.
Pesticides, insecticides, and other chemicals
It is always suggested to try to minimize your exposure to contaminants in your environment and in your diet throughout breastfeeding. Pesticides, insecticides, and other chemicals that you ingest can make their way into your breast milk.
When you're breastfeeding, your body needs a total of 16 cups of fluid a day. (This includes the fluid in the food you eat, like fruits and vegetables.) But there's no need to keep a record of how much water you drink. A good guideline to follow is drink to satisfy thirst – that is, drink whenever you feel the need. If your urine is clear or light yellow, it's a good sign that you're well hydrated.
Medications and Drugs While Breastfeeding
The mothertobaby.org website has information on how the medications, drugs or herbal remedies you take may affect your baby or your breast milk supply. You can also consult the FDA web site about Medicine and Pregnancy.
In summary, don't fall into the trap of letting your health and diet throughout breastfeeding take a backseat to everything else going on. Try to consume nutritious foods and take proper MultiVitamin/MultiMineral supplementation while you are breastfeeding.