For a mom that has a breastfed newborn taking care of yourself becomes a challenge. There will be days, especially in the first weeks, when you will even forget to eat something during the day. Don’t worry much about the quality or quantity of your breast milk, even if you do not manage to have a sufficient number of meals, or if you go along with snacks. Your body will always give the preference to your baby, using the nutrients in your body to make breast milk. However, healthy food is important to supply you with the energy you need to take care of your baby and to keep the balance of important nutrients in your body. Here are the top five food to eat while breastfeeding recommended by pediatricians and lactation consultants.
Foods to include in your diet
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal is perhaps the top food to eat while breastfeeding recommended by lactation consultants. This is because oats, along with almonds, coconut, sesame seeds, anise, fennel, dill, barley, and chickpeas are in the list of galactagogues – food believed to increase mother’s milk supply. While there is no scientific proof of oats increasing milk supply, some believe it’s due to the high level of iron that oats contain. Even if the iron does not directly affect your supply, a food containing iron is always good for a mother who recently gave birth.
- Salmon usually comes second in the list of food to eat while breastfeeding due to the high level of fatty acids that it contains. It is an excellent source of DHA believed to be beneficial for your baby’s brain development. Many breastfeeding mothers are advised to take DHA supplements; however, there is no scientific proof of supplementation giving better results than a healthy diet with good sources of DHA.
- Beans and legumes. Many beans and legumes such as chickpeas, soybeans, red kidney beans, and fenugreek are in the top list of galactagogues. In addition to their effect on milk supply, beans and legumes are the excellent sources of important nutrients such as fiber, protein, iron, zinc, and calcium. Beans may make your newborn gassy, but that’s not an iron rule, and many babies are pretty much ok with the beans their mothers consume. So, give them a try.
- Nuts and seeds. Nuts are usually the most overlooked food to eat while breastfeeding. However, their nutritional value for breastfeeding mothers is very high. They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Nuts are known for containing tryptophan that converts into serotonin and becomes a natural mood stabilizer to combat stress. It also may improve your sleep – something that breastfeeding mothers need desperately.
- Eggs and dairy. Eggs are a great source of protein. There are eggs fortified with DHA that will help you to increase your daily DHA intake. Low-fat dairy products such as yogurt or cheese are also important to fill up your reserves of vitamin D, B, and calcium. Yogurt is a great source of probiotic cultures that will strengthen your digestive tract. However, remember that your breastfed baby may be sensitive to dairy products in your diet, especially to cow milk. Introduce them to your diet slowly and observe your baby. Sensitivity to dairy and to cow’s milk can cause colic-like symptoms, eczema, vomiting or green stools.
The importance of a healthy and balanced diet
Breastfeeding mothers need extra calories. Our bodies work around the clock to make breastmilk and to nurse. Healthy and balanced food that includes carbs, protein, and fat will keep you full longer. Instead of sugar and starches, try including complex carbs like whole grains. They will provide you with longer-lasting energy. Choose mono- and polyunsaturated fats contained in canola oil, olive oil, fatty fish, avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds. Try limiting saturated and trans fats. They are not only bad for your diet, but can change the composition of your breast milk too.
Never forget drinking plenty of water. Breastfeeding mothers produce on average 750 of milk a day. This means you need to consume more fluids than you used to do before.
What were your tips for foods to eat while breastfeeding? How did you manage to organize a healthy and balanced diet? Have you noticed a certain food increasing your milk supply? Share your observations with us.