What are the best foods to eat when breastfeeding?
Foods that are great for you and your baby
When you're pregnant, there are so many foods women are told to avoid. Brie, alcohol, and sushi are among the top no-nos. These may contain harmful bacteria or parasites or be detrimental to your baby's development.
But what happens to our diet after we give birth? Is anything fair game? Here's the scoop.
After birth, especially if you've lost a fair amount of blood, it's important to eat iron-rich foods. This will increase your blood cells. If you're a vegetarian, or just want to eat more plant-based foods, these may include beans, tofu, lentils, dried apricots, potato and spinach. For a more comprehensive list, look here.
Prenatal vitamins should be continued during lactation to ensure that both mom and baby get enough vital nutrients, such as choline, Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Have healthy one-handed snacks at the ready so you can satisfy that growling stomach quickly. Of the top 15 healthiest foods one could eat, 13 are vegetarian. Included on this list are lentils, almonds, broccoli, apples, blueberries, avocado, kale and sweet potato - a virtual rainbow!
Some foods can change the taste and color of breastmilk. Eating a variety of foods introduces baby to a range of tastes and may have surprising consequences. Garlic-flavored breastmilk seems to encourage longer nursing sessions at the breast. Nursing moms who eat carrots, more often than not, had babies who enjoyed eating carrots when they were older. So go ahead and eat all your colors!
Breastfeeding moms can take comfort in knowing that they can eat most of their favorite foods guilt-free. With the exception of alcohol, heavy doses of caffeine and fish that's high in mercury, new moms can eat and enjoy! (If you want to consume alcohol, wait 2-3 hours after each serving, before breastfeeding. Alcohol leaves your milk supply after several hours.) You may also want to avoid caffeine at night.
As anyone eager to eat a healthy diet, we're encouraged to eat a wide variety of foods, avoid highly processed foods and sugary drinks and stay hydrated. New moms have the added pressure of needing enough energy to care for their little one too. Whether or not you're breastfeeding, new moms need to maintain a healthy caloric intake. Postpartum, the range is 1800-2200. Add 500 calories, or more, if breastfeeding.
If your baby has severe colic, abdominal discomfort, or a skin rash or hives, vomits or has diarrhea, or has difficulty breathing after breastfeeding, contact the pediatrician right away. This may be an indication of a food allergy, ingested through breast milk. Common allergens are cow's milk, soy, eggs, peanuts, wheat and corn.
Whatever you eat, try to have a routine so that you don't skip meals. Plan to have easy-to-make foods at the ready. Overnight oats, yogurt or granola; fresh veggies or crackers with hummus or guacamole; apples and peanut butter; spinach quiche or lasagne from your freezer stock. You need to eat regularly so both you and your baby feel good.
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