When you’re breastfeeding your baby, it’s important to make sure you’re eating a proper diet with all the right nutrients while avoiding foods that aren’t good for your baby. You also need to account for your personal dietary requirements, like sensitivities and allergies.
If you’re wondering what you should eat, this article will help you make the right choice for you and your baby.
First, consult with a professional
First and foremost, consult with a professional nutritionist regarding your nutritional needs. Your pediatrician might be able to refer you to a specialist if they aren’t able to help.
It’s also good to schedule an in-home consultation with a lactation consultant. They can give you excellent breastfeeding tips to help with pumping and bottle feeding. Having an experienced lactation specialist will be a much-needed source of support for you and your baby while you’re breastfeeding.
Your baby will eat what you eat
When you consider that your baby will eat whatever you eat, it makes sense to eat nutrient-dense, nourishing foods so that your baby will be healthy. Breast milk is full of essential nutrients and compounds that will support your baby’s development. However, the nutrients your baby needs will differ from what you might eat on a regular basis, even when you’re normally a nutritious eater.
Your ability to produce breast milk requires a lot of energy in the form of nutrients, so you can expect to eat more food than usual. You’ll probably need to supplement your nutritional intake as well. For instance, health experts say your body will need higher amounts of protein, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A, B12, zinc, and selenium to produce enough breast milk to feed your baby.
With this increase in demand for nutrients, you can expect to eat at least 500 additional calories per day, if not more. Instead of eating empty calories, focus on eating foods rich in the nutrients listed above to make sure you get everything you need.
For example, the following foods are a great way to acquire the proper nutrients for you and your baby:
- Fats like avocados, coconut, eggs, full-fat yogurt, olive oil
- Vegetables and fruits like raspberries, strawberries, bell peppers, cabbage, and kale
- Seafood, including salmon, shrimp, lobster, and sardines
- Meats like chicken, lamb, beef, and even organ meats
- Starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, potatoes, oats, and lentils
- Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut
These are just some of the foods you can eat to pack in the extra nutrients your body needs to support your baby’s healthy development. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can still get the right nutrients – you don’t actually need to eat meat.
Supplement nutrients correctly
This is something you’ll want to learn directly from a nutritionist before changing your diet, but there are two different groups of nutrients and each group will affect your breast milk differently. For example, supplementing some nutrients won’t affect how much gets secreted into your breast milk.
There are some nutrients that, whether your levels are high or low, won’t affect the concentration of those nutrients in your milk. If you don’t have enough of these nutrients from food, your body will move them from your bones and fat reserves into your breastmilk.
These nutrients include:
These are the nutrients you don’t want to become deficient in, because your body will become depleted. These are usually the nutrients your dietician will recommend supplementing when you aren’t able to get enough of them through your diet.
On the other hand, the concentration of the following nutrients in your body will directly affect the nutrient concentration in your breastmilk:
- Vitamins A, D, B1, B2, B6, and B12
Most of these nutrients are easy to get in the right quantities, provided you’re following a healthy plan provided by your pediatrician or nutritionist.
Supplement with high-quality nutrients
While you’ll probably need to supplement your diet, make sure you only take high-quality, bioavailable products. The problem with supplements is that even some of the most popular brands aren’t bioavailable, which means your body can’t use the nutrients.
Although vitamins and minerals have names like “B12,” “calcium,” and “Vitamin D,” they are actually derived from a variety of sources, not all of which are useful to the body. Before supplementing your diet, consult with a nutritionist to find the best brands made from the right ingredients.
Keep your focus on nutrition
When it comes to breastfeeding your baby, eating nutritious foods matters. However, keep in mind that while some dietary advice applies to everyone, your circumstances are unique and you should consult your pediatrician before making any dietary changes.