April 15 2009
What to eat when breastfeeding
Many new mothers wonder if they should follow a special diet while they are breastfeeding. The good news is that you probably don’t need to make any major changes to what you eat or drink during this time. Just remember:
A well-balanced diet is important for your health
One of the wonders of breast milk is that it can meet your baby’s nutritional needs even if you’re not eating well. But just because your baby won’t be harmed by any dietary insufficiency on your part doesn’t mean that you won’t suffer. Getting enough vitamins and nutrients is important because you need energy to meet the physical demands of caring for a new baby. Think of nursing as continued motivation to follow the healthy diet you followed during pregnancy. Focus on eating whole grains and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, and foods that provide plenty of protein, calcium, and iron.
Do I need to eat or drink more ?
Eating well doesn’t mean you need to eat more. Experts used to recommend that nursing moms get an extra 500 calories a day, but recent research indicates that breastfeeding moms don’t necessarily need a calorie boost, says breastfeeding expert Kathleen Huggins, the author of The Nursing Mother’s Companion. Your energy needs will depend on your current weight and a lot on your activity level — there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation. If you do feel like you are lacking some energy, by no means have a snack. Same with thirst. Breastfeeding moms should drink according to their thirst. The same recommendation apply as for non-breastfeeders: try to avoid high sugar drinks like colas or juices. Water is always a good bet.
Is my baby colicky because of something I have eaten ?
Many babies have colics during the first few months of life, most often regardless of what their mothers eat. You will most probably find a lot of people around you suggesting that you stop eating broccoli, beef, bananas and so on. Beware, as you may find yourself with nothing else but water and white rice to eat ! In his Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, Jack Newman writes that eliminating certain foods of your diet may help in 1 out of 10 colic cases. If you do decide to eliminate certain foods, do only one group of foods at a time (for a week to 10 days, then reintroduce), so that you know if it makes a difference or not.
Have your baby taste (and like !) various tastes through your breastmilk
While breastfeeding you can generally enjoy all the foods that you would usually eat. The great thing about breastmilk is that the flavour changes slightly depending on what you eat (unlike formula, which stays always the same). This can actually help with introducing solids later on too (at around six months of age), as your baby will have already be introduced to a variety of tastes while breastfeeding.