As a new nursing mom, it’s hard to put your nutrition at the top of the list with changing diapers, late-night feedings, and trying to sneak in a few naps for yourself, but proper breastfeeding nutrition is essential to produce the best milk for your baby. After all, your nutrition is also your baby’s.
Nursing moms need extra calories to maintain their stamina. The Mayo Clinic suggests an additional 400 to 500 calories per day to keep up your energy. Keep healthy snacks around to stave off hunger pangs. You also need plenty of fluids, so keep a water bottle with you when breastfeeding, and limit the amount of sweetened beverages you drink. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water every day.
Too much caffeine can be bad for you and your baby. Limit yourself to no more than 16 to 24 ounces of caffeinated drinks a day. Your baby might be agitated if there is caffeine in your breast milk.
To ensure you and your baby get the important vitamins and nutrients, think green. Include a vegetable and/or fruit with each meal or snack. Stock up on low-fat dairy such as yogurt and cheese, and opt for a variety of whole grains and complex carbohydrates.
Moms should also monitor her baby’s reaction when she eats certain foods for potential allergies. Foods to avoid include fish with high levels of mercury, alcohol, and herbs or supplements without a doctor’s consent. Eating a variety of foods will change the flavor of your breast milk, which in turn exposes your baby to different tastes. This may also help them more easily accept solid foods.
If you need some extra help, Brooklyn Presta, contributor to Parents.com, offers some tips to get those extra calories the smart way.
Stock your pantry with healthy and easy-to-eat foods. Oatmeal, low-fat yogurt, and bananas make nutritious snacks, Presta says.
Make healthy dinners in bulk. Then you can freeze the leftovers for later. Presta suggests vegetable lasagnas and soups, which can be made in large portions easily.
Don’t skip breakfast. In fact, don’t skip any meal even with a busy schedule. Add some berries or bananas to cereal or oatmeal (dried fruits are also tasty), add some granola to your yogurt, or top an English muffin with some peanut butter.
Take a break and order takeout. Sometimes you just need to rest and spend time with your family and it’s okay to splurge and have a pizza occasionally.
Use that slow cooker. It could be collecting dust in your pantry but there are a many meals you can put together with minimal effort.
Spicy foods are fine so continue to eat them. Presta suggests keeping an eye out for possible allergic reactions that occur within several hours of nursing.
Don’t forget to enjoy food. There is no such thing as the perfect food and just because you are breastfeeding doesn't mean you have to be on a special diet. It’s important for you and your baby to eat foods that boost energy and give you the stamina you need.