Diet For Breastfeeding Mothers: # Top Superfoods For Lactating Mothers

For the first six months, breast milk is the only thing that nourishes and fulfils all nutritional needs of a newborn baby. Thus, ensuring that you eat healthily and produce enough milk to satisfy your baby's dietary needs is critical. Understanding breastfeeding and food items that will help you have milk are vital for an exclusive breastfeeding mother. This article will help you understand what to and what not to eat while breastfeeding, supplements and diet for breastfeeding mother, breastfeeding and weight loss etc. So, if you are not sure what to eat, what to avoid and how much extra to indulge in now that you are breastfeeding, we are here to help you with that! Let's dive in! 

Breast Milk 101

Here are some informative details you need to know about breast milk to understand the diet you would need as a breastfeeding mother:

  • -Your baby receives all the nutrients they need for their growing body and brain from breast milk. Therefore, a diet for breastfeeding mother is an important aspect to consider. If you are deficient in any essential nutrient or vitamin in your body, that will affect the breast milk supply and affect your baby's growth. 
  • -Except for Vitamin D, your breast milk contains every other essential. Thus, it is vital to give your baby supervised sun exposure per the doctor's recommendation. 
  • -The milk supply in your body changes and adjusts as per the needs of your growing baby. Lactation mother food plays a significant role in this; thus, eating properly and mindfully. 

How Many Extra Calories Diet For Breastfeeding Mother Contain

Let us begin with the good news first. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, which means without any effort, you are easily losing up to 500 calories per day just by breastfeeding your baby. You would otherwise need to run around 8 kilometres to be able to burn that many calories. So, your body needs to cover up for that as well.

To put it briefly, as against the 1600 to 2000 calories that a non-pregnant non-breastfeeding body would need, you would need to consume 2000 – 2400 calories per day if you are a breastfeeding mother. 

Food Choices For Diet For Breastfeeding Mother

It is important to have a balanced meal that includes foods from all food pyramid groups while you are breastfeeding. Diet for breastfeeding mother is crucial not just for her but also for her growing child. Consider adding the following to your daily diet while you are breastfeeding.

  • Starchy Foods

    - You need fibre in your diet while you are breastfeeding. So, make rice, oats, semolina/rawa/sooji, cereals etc., a part of your daily diet.
  • Fresh Fruits

    – Fresh and seasonal fruits are a great source of various vitamins and other essential nutrients that your body needs. Plus, fresh fruits are a great way to add extra fibre and hydration to your food. 

  • Green Leafy Vegetables

    – Veggies help you keep your weight in check and eat healthy for fulfilling your nutritional needs while lactating. 

  • Dairy Produce 

    – Your body needs extra calcium and fat at this stage. Dairy produce is a great way to get those. 

  • Water 

    – One of the most important things to remember is keeping yourself hydrated while breastfeeding.

  • Poultry & Meat 

    – This will depend on your dietary preference. If you are a non-vegetarian, add poultry and meat to the diet for breastfeeding mother. 

Best Foods To Eat While Breastfeeding

Here is the list of food for breastfeeding mothers that can help better milk production.

Best Lactogenic Foods For Breastfeeding Moms

  • -Fenugreek and fennel seeds
  • -Oats
  • -Garlic
  • -Whole Grains
  • -Apricots
  • -Moringa
  • -Barley
  • -Holy Basil
  • -Fluids like water and milk

You can also refer to the article Best Foods To Increase Breastmilk Supply for detailed information on the topic. 

Nutrient Groups To Include In Diet For Breastfeeding Mother

Even if you do not take proper nutrition yourself, the good news is that your body is a very intelligent machine. It will never let your baby go deficient in these essential nutrients. Instead, it will take a group of crucial nutrients from your blood and bones and send them to your breastmilk. But the sad news is that it will make you deficient. Thus, you need to consume foods from each nutrient group as a part of the diet for breastfeeding mother.

Group 1 Nutrients

These are the nutrients that your body will extract from your body and send to the breast milk, thus are very critical for your and your baby's health. Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Choline, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Selenium and Iodine are part of group 1 nutrients. 

Group 2 Nutrients

Your breast milk does NOT depend on these nutrients. Thus, deficiency of this group of nutrients would directly affect the breastfeeding mother's health more than the child's health. Folate, Calcium, Iron, Copper and Zinc are part of group 2 nutrients. 

Supplements To Consider For Breastfeeding Mother

If you opt for a healthy diet and lifestyle in general, you do not need to consider any supplements. But things are different when you are either expecting a baby or breastfeeding one. Your body's nutritional demands are high, and to fulfil the extra demand of breastfeeding your child, you would need to consider supplements apart from eating healthy foods for lactating mother. You would have started taking supplements during pregnancy, and your doctor would ask you to continue those till you breastfeed. Please note, do not start any supplement without consulting your doctor. Here are some supplements that your doctor might recommend to you during the breastfeeding phase: 

  1. Multi-Vitamin

    – To cover for all the extra minerals and vitamins that your body needs to be able to produce milk. 

  2. Vitamin B 12

     – If you are a vegetarian, you would need some extra B 12 if it is not present in your multivitamin otherwise. 

  3. Omega 3

     – This helps develop your baby's nervous system, skin and eyes; thus, you cannot afford to be deficient in it yourself. 

  4. Vitamin D

     – If your sun exposure is limited, the chances are that you are deficient in Vitamin D and need to consider a supplement for the same. 

Food To Avoid Or Limit In Diet For Breastfeeding Mother

Also known as anti-lactogenic foods, certain foods are advised to be avoided as a part of the diet for breastfeeding mother. Our article 10 Healthy Foods To Help Lactation & Increase Breast Milk Supply also talks about these food items. Caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee or cold beverages containing caffeine should not make it to the list of food for breastfeeding mother multiple times a day. A cup of tea or coffee is fine, but excess would adversely affect your breast milk supply. Certain fish high in mercury are also advised not to consume during breastfeeding. Peppermint or menthol are known to decrease breast milk supply and thus should be avoided in a breastfeeding mother diet. 

Breastfeeding & Weight Loss

As mentioned earlier, you would, without any effort, lose at least 500 calories per day while you are exclusively breastfeeding. Plus, after childbirth, you would also be losing the pregnancy weight that your body has gained within a few weeks of your delivery. So, while you would be tempted to lose the pregnancy weight, please do not go on any calorie restriction or calorie deficit plan while breastfeeding. Instead, opt for a healthy and balanced diet for feeding mother and club it with moderate workouts and physical activity. That would help you lose the fat and pregnancy weight without too much effort. 

Eating healthy is a habit that people of all ages, genders, and stages of life should adopt. But this habit becomes all the more critical when you are expecting a child or are breastfeeding one. So, choose healthy ingredients for food for feeding mother, cook healthy, and eat healthy! Happy Breastfeeding!

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