When breastfeeding, your baby will be relying on your body for all the vitamins and nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. And with the need to avoid some of your favorite treats during pregnancy, you may be wondering which foods are okay to eat now that you’re breastfeeding. To help you out, we came up with a list of foods breastfeeding moms should eat!
But, before anything, it’s also important to remember that every woman and every baby is different and you might not all react to the foods listed below in the same way. Still, having a general idea of which foods are good for your body and your baby’s body may be a helpful start to getting to know exactly what works for you both. Keep reading to learn more!
Eating meat can help you maintain the level of vitamins (like vitamins A and B), nutrients (like iron), and protein that both you and your baby need. Although your body can take these nutrients from the stores in your bones and tissues, you’ll still need to replenish the ones you lose when your body makes milk and your baby feeds. So, stick to lean meats or meats with lower fat content and avoid consuming too much oil.
You can get plenty of lean protein and healthy fats from eating fish and seafood that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids to help in the development of your child’s brain, skin, and eyes. Seafood also contains a lot of vitamin D, which is the only vitamin your baby needs that can’t be found in your breast milk. Plus, eating fish and seafood is great for you because it can help prevent heart disease and cancer.
Going for a wide range of fruits and vegetables can really help you and your baby maximize these vitamin-filled foods. Two or more daily servings of fruits will give you plenty of nutrients and can even ease your digestion. Eating lots of greens is great for you too! So, three or more servings of vegetables will help you stock up on the vitamins and antioxidants that your body uses up when making milk. A fun way to keep up your fruit and veggie intake would be to make smoothies! You could even add Greek yogurt for an extra healthy dose of protein.
Nuts and seeds make for healthy on-the-go snacks and add-ons to your meals, as they’re rich in healthy fats and are also good sources of calcium. Some nuts and seeds, like walnuts and flaxseeds, also have omega-3 fatty acids, which may help improve your baby’s learning abilities. Whole grains, like brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and cereals, are high in protein and can provide you with a lot of important nutrients. The starch in grains is also helpful for boosting your energy.
When breastfeeding, your body is under a lot of physical stress because it’s working double time to support another life. Staying hydrated with plenty of water and taking in calcium from dairy products like milk and cheese can help your body restore energy and stock up on nutrients for making milk. Increasing your dairy intake also means more vitamin D, which will keep you and your baby’s bones healthy and strong. And for those lactose-intolerant moms out there, seeds, greens, and beans are great alternative calcium sources, while mushrooms and fish are also rich in vitamin D.
A good rule of thumb is to stick to what you know is good for your body and take anything in moderation. While you can test for which flavors your baby enjoys and which ones they just won’t have, take the time to sit down with your doctor and talk about what foods are best for you and your newborn. You may even find a supplement that can help keep you and your milk healthy or a brand new food to call your favorite!
- Bjarnadottir, Adda, MS. “Breastfeeding Diet 101 – What to Eat While Breastfeeding.” Healthline. June 1, 2017.
- Butte, Nancy F., PhD, and Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc. “Patient Education: Maternal Health and Nutrition during Breastfeeding (Beyond the Basics).” UpToDate. October 3, 2018.
- Presta, Brooklyn, Cynthia Ramnarace, and Jessica Hartshorn. “Breastfeeding Diet: The Best Foods For Nursing Mothers.” Parents. August 21, 2018.
- Tew, Priya. “What to Eat While Breastfeeding.” Medela. October 24, 2017.
- Villines, Zawn. “Breastfeeding Diet: Nutrition and Foods to Avoid.” Medical News Today. August 22, 2018.