Your baby’s health is important; that much is certain. But as a breastfeeding mother your own health is crucial. After all; the milk your baby consumes is entire made from ‘things’ you eat and drink.
So what should a breastfeeding mommy eat and drink to ensure that both baby and mom are getting optimum nutrition?
That goes without saying. Plenty of water not only keeps you hydrated, but it helps to detoxify your body. That ensures there are no unhealthy particles in your breast-milk that could potentially upset your newborn’s digestions.
Water is also good for the brain. That helps you to think, focus more, stay concentrated and be more alert; which is important when you have a new baby in the house.
So how much water should you drink?
Family nutritionist Pamela Mahon recommends at least 64 ounces of water and fresh juices each day. That equals to eight 8-ounce glasses of water or juices daily. That sounds like a lot doesn’t it? It isn’t when you consider there are twelve active hours in a day. For many people that number is closer to 15 active hours per day.
That means you drink one 8-ounce glass of water about every 90 minutes or two hours, depending on your time frame. That is easily doable for anyone, even if you aren’t a health nut to begin with. Besides you are not only doing this to improve your own health but the well being of your baby.
And you don’t need to limit yourself to consuming just water alone. Dr Mahon suggests mixing up your daily dosage of liquids with fresh juices. However, she does caution against artificially sweetened beverages or too much citrus juice. The latter may cause rashes or upset tummies in nursing babes.
2. Lean protein:
Another ingredient your baby and your body crave for good health is protein. Protein helps to strengthen your bones, muscles, and enrich your skin and blood.
However you shouldn’t just eat any old protein out there. If you are a meat eater look for free-roaming, grass-fed beef and chicken, or wild-caught fish like salmon or cod. Both these fish have less heavy metals than canned tuna.
The FDA suggests that breastfeeding moms should never consume more than 6 ounces of fish per week, regardless of the type of fish.
For vegans your protein intake should come from yogurt, cheese, and other full-fat dairy options.
Eggs, dried beans, and lentils are another good source of lean protein.
Other good sources for lean protein are coconut, hemp, almond, or other nut milks. Stay away from consuming soy milk as it may possibly effect hormones. If you must drink soy milk be sure to only consume it sparingly.
3. Other foods breastfeeding moms should eat:
There are plenty of other healthy, nutritional, baby and mommy beneficial foods you can eat while breast feeding.
– Leafy greens: spinach, kale, and watercress have high levels of calcium, iron, vitamins K and A, and folate—a.k.a. super-foods for breastfeeding moms. Kale, beet, mustard, or collard greens, Swiss chard, and arugula are equally good veges to eat and offer an additional source of calcium that is easily absorbed by the body.
Be aware though that kale and mustard greens can cause bloating and gas in both you and your baby.
– Fresh fruits and veges: Try to eat as many colors as you can each day, from purple cabbage to white turnips, orange sweet potatoes, red cherries, and green melons. Go easy with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower as they too can cause gas and bloating in both you and your baby.
– Good fats: Fat is a breastfeeding mother’s friend; it helps your body absorb vitamins, fight off infections, and generate healthy cells and nerves. Be picky in your selection of which fats you consume though. Only select foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly good fats and can be found in cold water fish (sardines, halibut), avocados, nuts and seeds, safflower, coconut, olive, and grape seed oils.
Stay away from trans and saturated fats which is any food prepared with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil and is common in most fried foods and many processed snacks. These fats increase your “bad” cholesterol count and raise your risk of heart disease. This advice not only applies to when you are breast feeding but to maintain good health in general.
To guarantee that you and your baby get the best nutrition possible you should also minimize or avoid
Foods and beverages that could be harmful whilst breastfeeding:
– caffeine and alcohol: Okay you may need both to keep you going during the day since your nights are no longer spent sleeping but feeding your newborn constantly.
Still be aware that caffeine and alcohol make their way into your breast milk which means your baby will get it in her system as well.
Caffeine will make your newborn restless and irritable and sees to it that your baby won’t nap. So if you must have your coffee, drink it when your baby is asleep and at least one hour before you are going to breastfeed her.
– chocolate: yes that delicious snack that is so pleasing to the palettes. As craving as this sweet may be it can cause havoc on your baby’s digestive system and behavior. If you have your regular dose of chocolate and your baby becomes fussy and has running poop, you will need to cut back or stop eating it altogether.
– peppermint and parsley: Sure they make for a nice garnish and taste refreshing and uplifting in tea. But these two herbs are known to be ‘supply reducers’. That means they prevent your body from producing the amount of breast milk your baby may need, especially during a growth spurt.
Finally here are a few more food items you should reduce eating or eliminate altogether while breastfeeding:
– dairy: some babies are allergic to dairy and can develop eczema, become restless and have upset stomachs. Peanuts and wheat are another food sources that many babies are allergic to.
– citrus: the acidity in these fruits can be irritating to a newborn’s GI track which is still immature at that age. Citrus can cause spitting up, fussiness, or even diaper rash. If you’re craving some vitamin C, try having some pineapple or mango instead.
As a mother of a newborn you only want the very best nutrition to enter her tiny body. By paying attention to what you eat and drink yourself you can do much to ensure your baby gets only the best nutrition she needs to growth strong and be healthy. Isn’t that what all mommies want for all their children, whether newborn or not?