What to eat when breastfeeding?

 A balanced diet is important for breastfeeding mothers. Nursing mothers should drink sufficient water and have important nutrients. Doctors also recommend breastfeeding mothers to have certain supplement.

First, you do not need to eat anything special while you are breastfeeding. Just remember to have a balanced diet, which is a combination of healthy and nutritious foods.


Drinking sufficient water

You should drink at least 8 cups of water each day when you are breastfeeding.

You will need to drink water to meet the increased requirement for milk production. When you have not drunk enough water, the breast milk supply may drop.

The nursing mother is also easier to feel thirty due to the hormone oxytocin. This hormone is increased whenever your baby latches onto your breast. It helps the milk to flow, but it also triggers thirst.


Nutritious and Healthy Food

Examples of nutritious and healthy food for nursing mothers:

Starchy foods: bread, potato, pasta, and rice.

Dairy products: milk or yogurt.

Protein: lean meat, fish, eggs, or pulses.

Vegetables: tomatoes, peas and beans

Fruit: berries, apples, banana

Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseeds.

Other foods: Eggs, oats, potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat and dark chocolate.


Of course, the list is not exhaustive. There are many more healthy food that you can eat while you are breastfeeding.

It should be noted that traces of what you eat and drink can get into breastmilk. If your baby is sensitive to a particular food, you may want to remove it from your food list. For example, some babies may dislike the taste of the garlic and may refuse to latch if nursing mothers eat a lot of garlic.  



Two categories of nutrients

In general, nutrients in breast milk can be separated into two categories. Below are the names of the nutrients and their natural food sources


Category 1 Nutrients

Below are the group 1 nutrients and some common food sources:

Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, organ meats and eggs.

Vitamin B1: Fish, seeds, nuts, oats, peas, and bean.

Vitamin B2: Cheese, almonds, nuts, red meat, oily fish, and eggs.

Vitamin B6: Seeds, nuts, fish, poultry, pork, bananas and dried fruit.

Vitamin B12: oily fish, milk, and milk products.

Vitamin D: Cod liver oil, oily fish, some mushrooms and fortified foods.

Choline: Eggs, fish, and peanuts.

Selenium: Brazil nuts, seafood, fish, whole wheat, and seeds.

Iodine: Dried seaweed, cod, milk and iodized salt.


Category 2 Nutrients

Below are the group 2 nutrients and some common food sources:

Folate: Beans, leafy greens, asparagus, and avocados.

Calcium: Milk, yogurt, cheese, leafy greens, and legumes.

Iron: Red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, green vegetables and dried fruit.

Copper: sunflower seeds, lentils, almond, whole grains, nuts, and beans.

Zinc: red meat, spinach, beans, and nuts.



What food to avoid during breastfeeding

Food to be avoided during breastfeeding includes coffee, alcohol, high-mercury fish. Please refer to what food to avoid during breastfeeding for details.



Health supplement during breastfeeding

Stated on the website of American Pregnancy Association, many doctors suggest breastfeeding mothers to take some multivitamins to supplement their diets.

Supplement that may be beneficial to you include:


1. Multivitamins

Some women may lack critical nutrients due to various reasons such as morning sickness during pregnancy. For this reason, it is beneficial for breastfeeding mothers to take a multivitamin.


2. Omega-3 (DHA)

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential long-chain omega-3 fatty acid that is mainly found in oily fish.

DHA is an essential component of the central nervous system, skin, and eyes and it is vital for healthy brain development and function.

If your intake is low, then the amount of your breast milk will also be low.


3. Vitamin D

Our body needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium; this is important for bone health and immune function.

Vitamin D is usually only present in low amounts in breast milk. Therefore, vitamin D drops are recommended for babies from the age of 2–4 weeks.

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