It’s a rare thing when you are told to eat more calories. But, as a breastfeeding mom, you’ll need to consume around 1,800 and 2,000 calories a day. Even more than when you were pregnant! As you’ll find out, you will also be more hungry (or shall we say hangry) than ever.
If your doctor is like most, you’ll also be getting a lecture. The increased calorie allotment doesn’t come with the ability to consume unlimited milkshakes and pizza. Bummer, right? Instead, food gets a new importance. What you’re eating needs to be beneficial to both mother AND baby. It’s time to maintain a well-rounded diet that balances protein, vitamins and healthy calories.
You’ll also find that foods you eat affect your breast milk. Things to consider will be your milk supply, the taste of your breast milk (yep, that’s a thing!), and any allergies your baby may develop.
What does this mean? Many breastfeeding moms discover that eating small meals throughout the day helps maintain stamina. If your baby becomes particularly fussy about your breast milk, maybe it’s the taste! You may need to begin eliminating foods and keep a food diary to help narrow down the culprits. And if your supply needs a boost, there are foods that will help.
Foods that Fuel Breastfeeding Moms
Nuts - A powerhouse of nutrition, nuts are high in essential minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc, as well as vitamins K and B. You’ll also find that even just a handful can get you through a pumping session when you’re feeling a little hungry. Try mixing a variety of nuts with dried fruit and chocolate and store it next to your bed stand to get you through a slump.
Green Leafy Veggies - Kale, spinach, collards and broccoli rabe are all ideal foods to supplement your diet as a nursing momma. Not only do leafy greens provide you and baby with much needed vitamins and antioxidants, but consuming them now will also help your baby establish good eating habits when they begin to eat solids.
Blueberries - Now’s the time to eat your fruits! In fact, at least two servings a day is recommended for nursing moms. Blueberries are chock full of vitamins but also offer a good amount of carbohydrates to keep mom full. Try topping a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt with some fresh blueberries or freeze them for an easy afternoon snack.
Foods to Boost Milk Supply
Oats - A practical food for almost any diet, oats are loaded with fiber and energy. Try an overnight oat recipe for an easy breakfast to start your day or whip up some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for an afternoon boost. This smoothie recipe which has oats, brewer’s yeast and frozen strawberries is another tasty way to boost your supply.
Fenugreek Seeds - Fenugreek has long been touted as an ingredient known for boosting milk supply. Sprinkle seeds into baking mixes (like pancakes) or top a salad or scrambled eggs with the seeds. Also good to know: Chewing on the sprouted seeds along with a glass of milk may help prevent post-delivery constipation.
Ginger - Have any ginger products leftover from your first trimester stomach woes? They won’t go to waste! Ginger is a great addition to your diet when you want to increase your milk supply.
Foods that may Cause Problems in your Breast Milk
Dairy - If your baby becomes increasingly fussy within the first few weeks after birth, you may want to investigate the possibility of a dairy allergy. When your child is sensitive or allergic to cow-milk protein, baby may experience colic-like symptoms, eczema, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea (including bloody diarrhea), constipation, hives, and/or a stuffy, itchy nose. In this case you’ll need to abstain from all dairy until advised to re-introduce it to your baby by your pediatrician.
Garlic, Broccoli and Onions - These strong flavors may carry through to your breast milk. If you notice that baby is less likely to nurse after meals with these ingredients, it may be advisable to remove them from your diet.
Caffeine - We know. Coffee is the key to success as a parent. But, too much can interfere with your baby's sleep or make them fussy. Remember - in addition to coffee, caffeine is also found in some sodas, teas, and over-the-counter medicines.
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