What to Eat When You’re Breastfeeding
When breastfeeding, it is important to eat healthy foods and get enough nutrients to maintain your baby’s health. Not only is it beneficial for your baby, you can burn about 500 calories a day while breastfeeding. And while you may not initially lose weight when breastfeeding, after a few months, you’re more likely to lose weight much more quickly than mothers who don’t breastfeed.
“Not only does breastfeeding give your baby nourishment and help build their immunity, but there have also been links between weight loss and breastfeeding because it takes your body a lot of energy to produce milk. But every woman is different,” says Amber Lin MD, a family medicine doctor for PIH Health. “When breastfeeding, the priority should be maintaining your health to meet your baby’s needs. Talking with your doctor to create a post-pregnancy plan is always a good idea.”
Follow these tips for healthier eating while breastfeeding to ensure you and your baby are getting the proper nutrition:
- Choose whole rather than over-processed foods. Eat nutrient-dense whole foods instead of processed foods, which contain empty calories. You and your baby need more nutrients when breastfeeding. Some good options include lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and nuts.
- Get enough of these nutrients. The amount of nutrients in breast milk depends on what you eat. To ensure your baby gets what they need, consume enough of these vitamins and minerals: B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, and B12), vitamin A, vitamin D, choline, selenium, and iodine.
- Don’t skimp on these either. Your baby will get enough calcium, folate, iron, copper, and zinc from your breast milk whether you consume enough of these nutrients or not. But if you don’t get enough from your diet, you will be deficient in these nutrients.
- Drink enough water. To meet the demands of milk production, your body needs more water than it usually does. Drink more water if your milk decreases or you feel thirsty, tired, or faint. The Office on Women’s Health recommends drinking approximately 13 cups of fluid per day when breastfeeding.
- Don’t severely limit calories. Your body needs the extra energy to breastfeed. If you reduce the number of calories you intake too much, it may affect your milk supply. Even though you may want to lose weight, the average breastfeeding woman needs to consume an additional 450-500 calories on top of their daily intake.
As mentioned before, the beauty of breastfeeding is copious for both mother and baby. Breastmilk contains important nutrients and antibodies to help your baby thrive and grow but only if you take care of yourself and maintain your health. Many new mothers may be anxious to get back to their pre-baby weight, but if you’re breastfeeding, eating healthy and getting enough nutrients should be your primary focus.
Learn about breastfeeding support offered by PIH Health. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Lin, see her physician profile, or call 562.698.2541 to make an appointment.