Congratulations on having a new baby! If you’re like many moms, you may be thinking about breastfeeding your baby. Breastfeeding has benefits for both mom and baby, but if you decide to breastfeed, you’ll need to pay attention to what and how much you eat.
Even though you may be anxious to lose your “baby weight” as soon as possible, now is not the time to diet. But the good news is that after a few months of breastfeeding, you’re likely to lose weight at a faster pace than mothers who don’t breastfeed even though you’re eating more.
You’ll not only want to get enough calories, but you should focus on making healthy food choices. This may be difficult to do when you’re busy and tired but it is worth the effort it takes – for both you and your baby.
Here are 5 tips for maximizing your nutrition while breastfeeding:
- Eat mostly whole foods. You need more nutrients when breastfeeding so choose mostly nutrient-dense whole foods instead of processed foods, which often contain empty calories. Good options include lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, nuts and seeds.
- Drink, drink and drink. Your body needs more water than usual to meet the demands of milk production. The Office on Women’s Health recommends breastfeeding women drink about 13 cups of fluid per day. If your milk production decreases or you feel thirsty, tired or faint, drink more water.
- Get enough calories. The average woman who is breastfeeding needs to consume an additional 450-500 calories per day on top of their normal daily intake. If you limit calories too much, it may affect your milk supply.
- Consume these nutrients. The amount of some nutrients in breast milk depends on what you eat. To ensure your baby gets what he or she needs, consume enough of these vitamins and minerals: B vitamins (B1, B2, B6 and B12), vitamin A, vitamin D, choline, selenium and iodine.
- Don’t skimp on these. Your baby will get these nutrients from breast milk whether you consume enough of them or not. But if you don’t get enough from your diet, you will be deficient in them: calcium, folate, iron, copper and zinc.
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Date Last Reviewed: June 14, 2019
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Nora Minno, RD, CDN