As a nursing mom, it is crucial to choose a breastfeeding diet that is healthy and nutrient-dense. It would be best if you had a healthy diet for your overall wellbeing and that of your little one.
Experts around the globe strongly advise mothers to breastfeed their babies exclusively for six months. They also recommend that mothers continue breastfeeding their babies even after they’ve introduced other foods.
Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby to fight off viruses and bacteria. Breast milk contains everything your baby requires for proper development, excluding vitamin D.
13 best foods for breastfeeding moms
1. Leafy vegetables
Vegetables are rich in vitamin A and contain heart-healthy antioxidants. You can consider adding vegetables to your breastfeeding diet as they give you energy and can even boost your milk production.
Eggs are protein-rich foods and are a healthy option for your breastfeeding diet. Eggs are packed with vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, etc. Eggs increase the good cholesterol levels in your body, which lower the risk of heart-related ailments. Choline from eggs is also helpful for many bodily functions.
A breastfeeding diet containing fish can provide you with protein, healthy omega-3 fats like Docasa Hexanenoic Acid (DHA) needed by babies for brain development. You can also get vitamins B-12 and D, selenium, zinc, and iodine. It’s about time salmon, sardine and tuna found their way into your breastfeeding diet as they are among the best sources of DHA.
Experts recommend that breastfeeding mothers regulate the amount of fish (seafood) they eat. This is to limit the quantity of mercury your baby is exposed to. Avoid tilefish, shark, swordfish, etc. They contain high levels of mercury.
Talk to your physician about what seafood to eat and which to avoid.
The milk you feed your baby is fully packed with calcium to aid in your baby’s bone development. Having calcium in your breastfeeding diet is essential to meet your baby and your body’s demand. Yoghurt, milk, cheese, or whichever dairy product you choose can help boost your calcium levels.
Beans, like all legumes, are iron-rich. They are a great source of non-animal protein. Beans are also a source of dietary fiber, iron, micronutrients, and phytochemicals.
Oranges and other citrus fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C and energy; you should consider adding them to your diet. Oranges can help you absorb more iron from food.
Whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat bread contain vital nutrients and are great additions to your meal plan. Whole grains are filled with fiber, B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. Whole grains also contain iron, magnesium, selenium, etc.
8. Meat and poultry
These foods provide you with protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B12, an omega-3 fatty acid that can aid your child’s growth, brain, nerve, and muscle development.
9. Avocado and coconut
Foods like avocado and coconut are among a unique group of foods that contain good fats like the EFAs and omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming foods that contain healthy fats can protect you against infections. Healthy fats are also rich in lauric acid, which is considered to be suitable for babies.
Constant breastfeeding drains and leaves you at risk of dehydration. To keep your energy and milk production at an optimal level, you need to stay hydrated by drinking fluids like water, lemon juice, etc.
This aromatic plant root is believed to be a galactagogue – a food or drug that promotes or increases a mother’s milk flow. It has also been used for a long time as a herbal remedy to stimulate breast milk production.
Garlic is also believed to be a galactagogue that boosts milk production. Studies had shown that babies latched on and sucked for much longer when their mothers consumed garlic.
Tumeric is another galactagogue. This spice may change the colour of your milk due to the naturally occurring pigment it has.
Diet and nutrition requirements when breastfeeding
As a lactating mom, here are some nutrients you should ensure are part of your diet.
Your body requires more protein when you’re breastfeeding than when you’re pregnant. This nutrient can be obtained from animal and non-animal sources. Healthy sources of protein include meat, fish, beans, eggs, etc. You can choose whichever protein source that you’re most comfortable with.
For your baby to grow strong bones and teeth, you should consume calcium from healthy sources. Low-fat dairy products, cereals, spinach are foods rich in calcium.
Go for healthy, higher fiber carbs for that energy boost to feed your baby and still be able to carry on with your daily activities. Whole grains, fruits, and veggies are filled with carbohydrates.
Folic acid is essential for the healthy development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. It is also needed to make red blood cells and white blood cells. Babies with folic acid deficiency are at significant risk of having incomplete brain and spinal cord development. Folic acid can be found in foods such as leafy greens, citrus fruits, beans, etc.
Iodine helps your baby’s thyroid gland to make hormones that stimulate growth and brain development. If you want to protect your baby from thyroid problems and cognitive delays, consider using iodized salt in your cooking and consume more dairy products and seafood because of their high iodine content.
It would help if you consumed a diet rich in iron to prevent iron-deficiency anemia. You can source iron from legumes, leafy green vegetables, etc.
These are unsaturated fat that is used to fuel a baby’s growth and development. Healthy fats are vital for your baby’s brain and nervous system development. Foods rich in healthy fats are avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, peanut oil, etc.
Fiber is useful in preventing constipation. You can get fiber by eating whole-grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
For the healthy development of your baby’s heart, eyes, and immune system, you should consume foods rich in vitamin A. Vegetables, oranges, and milk are some of the rich sources of vitamin A.
You may have wondered how your baby’s red blood cells form and how protein, fat, and carbohydrate are broken down. Vitamin B6 is responsible for all these. This vitamin is also needed for normal brain development and function. Include poultry, fish, and bananas into your breastfeeding diet because they are a great source of vitamin B6.
This vitamin, which is only found in animal products like meat and eggs, plays a vital role in forming your baby’s red blood cells and your baby’s brain development and function.
When it comes to absorbing iron, tissue growth and repair, bone and tooth development, you can trust vitamin C to do the job. You can get vitamin C by consuming citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes.
If you want your baby’s body to absorb calcium for healthy bones and teeth, then include low-fat or fat-free milk, egg yolks, and salmon into your breastfeeding diet.
You don’t have to follow a special breastfeeding diet; ensure that whatever you eat is nutritionally balanced. To give your baby all the best nourishment, you need to be in good condition. You can truly achieve this by ensuring that you always eat what is right.