What are the best foods to eat when breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding offers benefits to both the baby and the mother. This is the reason breastfeeding mothers are advised to eat a healthy diet. Breast milk contains all the nutrients needed by the baby. Doctors and nutritionists recommend breast feeding children until six months before introducing other meals. Therefore, breast feeding mothers should adopt a healthy diet in order to attain the required nutrients levels. You will also attain the energy to take care of your baby and yourself.

Nutrients in Breast Milk

Breast milk contains different kinds of nutrients. New born babies require different kinds of nutrients for proper growth during their first six months. The diet you eat affects the levels of some nutrients. Your diet can also affect the overall quality of the breast milk. The wellness of your health also depends on the kinds of meal you eat. Vitamin D, fat, carbs, protein and minerals are some nutrients found in breast milk. Baby formula nutrient levels cannot be compared to breast milk. Breast milk is more nutritious than baby formula.

However, the composition nutrients in breast milk varies and changes as time progresses. The milk is watery during the first stages of feeding. This helps hydrate the baby from thirst. Afterwards, thick milk follows. This milk is thick, more nutritious and contains high amounts of fat. Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to empty one breast at a time.

Breastfeeding and calories

Breastfeeding mother require more calories than other people. The process of producing breast milk undergoes a lot of process. A lot of energy is required during the entire process. The amount of nutrients intake also increases. This is the reason mothers are encouraged to go for healthy and nutritious meals. This stimulates the process of producing breast milk. Weight gain is normal for breastfeeding mothers. This is because of the increased appetite and the hormonal changes the body undergoes. These factors make it difficult to shed off some body fat.

This results into some mothers restricting their calories intake. It has been practically proven that mothers who limit their calorie intake results into production of low amounts of breast milk. The energy levels might also decrease. Don’t limit your calories intake. The fat burning process increases after three months while breastfeeding. This is the time plenty of mothers shed off some weight. Exercise and a healthy diet are the most recommended ways of losing weight.

Go for nutrient rich meals

Breastfeeding mothers should go for meals rich in nutrients. They need nutrients for themselves and their baby. Some nutrients directly determine the amount of breast milk that will be produced. Others are produced naturally despite the meals you eat. Don’t have a specific diet. Be diverse on the meals you eat. This will ensure you attain all nutrients your baby needs. Below are some meals you should consider while breastfeeding:

  • Vegetable and fruits- Broccoli, berries, garlic, cabbage, tomatoes and kale.
  • Meat- Organ meats, pork, lamb and beef
  • Seafood and fish- Sardines, shellfish and seaweed
  • Seeds and nuts- Flaxseeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and walnuts.

Breast feeding mothers should avoid processed meals as much as they can. Processed meals contain high sugar levels.

The nutrients to focus on

Nutrients can be divided into two groups. The first group of nutrients is present in breast milk despite the meals you consume. The second group of nutrients fully depends on what you eat. Therefore, ensure you eat the right meals to attain all the nutrients, needed by the bay. Below are some nutrients that must be injected in the body through the meals you eat:

  • Vitamin B12- Shrimp, crab, oily fish, liver and shellfish
  • Thiamin- Nuts, fish, seeds, bread and pork
  • Choline- peanuts, eggs, fish, chicken liver and beef liver
  • Riboflavin- Eggs, cheese, red meat, almonds, oily fish and nuts.
  • Vitamin A- Dark leafy greens, carrots, eggs, sweet potatoes and organ meat.
  • Vitamin B6- Dried fruits, bananas, pork, seeds, poultry, fish and nuts.
  • Iodine- Iodized salt, milk, cod and dried seaweed
  • Selenium- Seeds, whole wheat, seafood, brazil nuts and fish
  • Vitamin D- Mushrooms, oil fish and Cod liver oil.

The levels of the above nutrients will decrease if you don’t eat the right food. Let us cross over and look at the nutrients that are not affected by the foods you consume. The body will derive the below nutrients from your bones if your intake is low. Below are some of these nutrients:

  • Folate- Avocados, asparagus, leafy greens and lentils
  • Iron- Dried fruit, seafood, green vegetables, pork, beans, red meat and poultry.
  • Calcium- Legumes, leafy greens, cheese, yogurt and milk
  • Zinc- Dairy, nuts, beans, poultry, red meat and oysters
  • Copper- Potatoes, organ meats, shellfish, beans, nuts and whole grains.

The use of supplements

There are plenty of supplements in the market specifically designed for breastfeeding mothers. These supplements contain active substances, stimulants and herbs that are directly transferred to breast milk. They ensure all the nutrients are there in the right amount. Below are some supplements to choose from:

  • Multivitamins- Some mothers lack crucial nutrients. This might be due to poor feeding habits or nausea, among others. Multivitamins supplements contain different kinds of nutrients and can boost the nutrients levels in breast milk.
  • Vitamin B12- These supplements don’t always deliver positive results. Therefore, breastfeeding mothers should consult their doctor before taking them.
  • Omega 3- Omega 3 supplements are one of the commonly consumed supplements. This supplement helps the baby develop his/her brain, eyes, skin and the nervous system. This supplement should be taken daily.
  • Vitamin D- Vitamin D supplements help in immune development and enhance the general bone health.

Drinking plenty of water and breastfeeding

You might have noticed you get more thirsty when breastfeeding. This is mostly because of high amounts of hormone Oxytocin. The Oxytocin hormone levels will automatically increase when the baby starts breastfeeding. This is what stimulates thirst. The body needs enough water to be able to produce enough milk. There is no limit on the amount of water you should take each day. Simply develop a habit of remaining hydrated throughout the day. Yellow urine should be an indication you need to drink more water.

Things worth noting down

A lot of things you consume or drink go directly to breast milk. Below are some things you should be cautious about when breastfeeding:

  • Caffeine- Babies body cannot metabolize caffeine instantly. It takes longer when compared to an adult. Caffeine can affect the sleep pattern of the baby. Therefore, it should be consumed with moderation. Alternatively, you should avoid it while breastfeeding.
  • Alcohol- Alcohol also goes directly to breast milk. This is the reason you should avoid it while breastfeeding. Alternatively, you should wait a few hours before breastfeeding your child after taking alcohol.
  • Cow milk- Don’t give your child cow milk before he/she is develop. Some babies exhibit allergic signs such as diarrhea, rashes and colic.

Bottom Line

Breastfeeding mothers should focus on a healthy diet throughout feeding period. It positively improves their wellness and that of their babies. Be open-minded on the healthy meals you eat.