Your Nutrition and Breastfeeding

Good nutrition plays an important role whenever a new mother decides to breastfeed. Nursing babies are dependent upon their mothers to provide the best possible nutrition via breast milk. If you are a new mom, a healthy and balanced diet should be a priority for you while breastfeeding. Below are a few tips to help you and your baby get off to a good start.

Up Your Calories: When you are nursing, you are expending at least an additional 500 calories per day. Since your body needs to be constantly producing milk for your baby, you will have to keep your energy going strong. Speak with your doctor about what your target weight and appropriate calorie intake should be while nursing to keep you and the baby healthy.

Drink More Water: Breastfeeding mothers may feel thirstier than usual so drink at least ten 8-ounce glasses of water per day. While breastfeeding it is also important to gauge your fluid consumption. A lack of water while breastfeeding may lead to increased fatigue and constipation. You can determine if you are getting enough water by checking the color of your urine; when it appears dark and concentrated, your body’s telling you to drink more water.

Stay Clear of Alcohol: Lots of things that you consume can wind up in your breast milk – including alcohol. Alcohol can also leave you feeling drained and tired, can impact your baby’s sleep cycle, and may alter motor development and inhibit your baby’s weight gain. While the American Academy of Pediatrics says that occasional use of alcohol while breastfeeding is acceptable, it’s certainly not encouraged. If you have a drink, experts suggest waiting 2-3 hours after drinking before you begin to breastfeed.

Drink Caffeine in Moderation: While small amounts of caffeine are usually fine, some infants may be sensitive to its affects. Caffeine is approved by The American Academy of Pediatrics for breastfeeding mothers, but one study suggested that large amounts of caffeine might deplete the iron content in breast milk. Speak with your physician about your caffeine consumption and how it may impact both you and your baby. If in doubt, stick with water and juices.

Consume a Diverse Diet: A diverse diet means that a lactating mother will be able to obtain a variety of micronutrients from many sources. If you are breastfeeding, you should get your nutrients from a wide array; make certain that your diet incorporates different fruits, vegetables and grains.

Vegetarian is Fine: There are plenty of healthy vegetarians and vegans (who don’t consume any meat, eggs or dairy products) who are moms and who have successfully breastfed their babies with no ill effects. If you have either a vegetarian or vegan diet, just make sure to eat properly and take a multivitamin that’s been approved by your doctor.

Eat Frequently: While breastfeeding, how often you eat is just as important as what you eat. One of the best ways to keep your energy up is to eat several small meals each day rather than the standard three. Multiple meals will help to keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day.

Increase Your B Vitamins: B Vitamins are a group of nutrients often found together in various foods, and they promote healthy cell metabolism. When vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 are combined they are known as “B Complex.” Since they are water soluble (meaning that excess amounts are excreted by the body through the urine), B vitamins should be taken daily.

Up Your Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc: Folic acid is instrumental in creating red blood cells and warding off anemia. Iron transports oxygen throughout our bodies and helps store it in the muscle. Zinc promotes healing as well as normal growth and development. Women who are nursing often need greater amounts of these three nutrients. Speak with your healthcare provider and ask them to recommend the amount that will be most beneficial to you and your baby.

Consider Nutritional Supplements: If you are a nursing mother who regularly suffers from certain medical conditions such as anemia, you should speak with your doctor about nutritional supplements. In some cases, both mothers and their babies will benefit from this extra nutritional boost of vitamins and minerals.

Breastfeeding is an important part of motherhood that contributes to the well being of your newborn child. Speak with your healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about your nutritional requirements while breastfeeding. Together you will be able to develop sound guidelines certain to keep you and your baby healthy and happy.

About the Author

Carrie Atkins feels fortunate to have been able to nurse her three children as a stay-at-home mom. She also writes content for sites conducting reverse phone lookup services.