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Breastfeeding Diet: The Best Breastfeeding Foods For Mothers

Breastfeeding requires a lot of commitment from the mother’s side and while it is no question breastmilk is good for your baby, breastfeeding can also be very demanding on the mother’s body. Every day a breastfeeding mother burns about 500 calories to make breastmilk. Ensuring a well planned balanced breastfeeding diet supports the breastfeeding mother on her journey. Nutritious foods the mother eats not only help her but help her growing baby too. In today’s post let us look at some of the best breastfeeding foods to eat as a breastfeeding mom.

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Breastfeeding requires some hand-holding in the very beginning. It is a new relationship you enter into as a mother. There are doubts, difficulties, and many challenging situations to face as you foster this bond between you and baby. It is best to take support from a Lactation Consultant to guide you through those early days, weeks, and months. If this is not possible for you, take up an online self-paced Breastfeeding Course to help you understand the breastfeeding process, different positions you can use to breastfeed, and troubleshoot any problems you may encounter. I cannot stress enough on the importance of seeking help and support in your breastfeeding journey. It makes the entire experience smooth sailing.

The baby goes through many growth spurts during which the mother’s body needs to adjust and boost milk supply to support the baby’s growth. It is therefore important for the breastfeeding mother to eat a variety of nutrient-rich whole foods to maintain her supplies and stay strong herself.

Some of the reasons mothers notice a drop in milk supply is inadequate maternal nutrition and rest. Both of these aspects are essential to maintain milk supply. I have mentioned in a previous post, how one can increase milk supply, for now, let us look at the types of foods to include in your breastfeeding diet.

BEST BREASTFEEDING FOODS FOR MOTHERS

Vegetables and Green leafy Veggies

Vegetables including green leafy vegetables contain many important vitamins and minerals. Vit B, Vit C, iron, calcium, are all found in abundance in leafy greens. Ensure you eat a good amount of spinach, kale, fenugreek leaves, collard greens, and more in your daily diet.

Lean red meats, Organ meats And Fish

In many cultures, the breastfeeding mother is given organ meats like liver to eat. This is because liver is a rich source of iron and Vit A both of which are essential nutrients for a new mother and her growing baby. Include lean cuts of red meat, fish, and organ meats in your diet in order to meet any nutritional gaps postpartum.

Fruits 

Fruits are easy to snack on and contain many vitamins and minerals. Make fruits your snack break buddies, eat them whole, add them to smoothies or yogurt bowls and enjoy their hydrating goodness.

Whole grains

Eat whole grains like barley, oats, whole wheat, millets, brown rice on a regular basis. These grains contain fiber, essential nutrients, and are a good source of energy for the body.

Lentils and legumes

Lentils and legumes are a rich source of calcium and iron for the breastfeeding mother. Protein-rich foods like beans and lentils also help with satiety so that you are not reaching for junk snacks between meals. For plant-based mothers, beans and lentils must be eaten every day as a protein source.

Nuts, seeds and dry Fruits

Add nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts, dried fruit like raisins and apricots to your porridge or yogurt. These contain fiber, Vit B, Vit E, omega 3’s, and antioxidants. Nuts and dried fruits also make many different yummy snacks like energy balls and ladoos. These give you have quick energy boost when you need it and also nourish you.

Eggs

Eggs are a good source of vitamins and minerals like Vit A, Vit B 12, Vit D, Vit E, zinc, selenium, iron, choline, iodine, and omega 3 fatty acids. Hard-boiled eggs are quick to prepare and snack on. Add them on a toast or eat them as is, this simple whole food will help you stay away from junk snacking.

Dairy

Breastfeeding mothers can include a glass of milk, some cheese and yogurt in their daily diet. Dairy provides calcium, iodine, and Vit B 12. Though in some cases this can be difficult if the baby has a milk allergy, in which case discuss with your doctor how you can ensure adequate nutrition through non-dairy sources. 

Water

Breastfeeding makes mothers very thirsty. Make sure to drink lots of water, and other than water make soups and smoothies. Here are a few breastfeeding soups for new mothers.

While there is not adequate research to prove that certain foods help increase milk supply, there are many foods used in different cultures around the world given specifically to breastfeeding mothers.

From my own personal experience, I felt that eating regular meals, eating a good variety of foods alongside sleep, and good rest helped me establish my milk supply and continue on even on days when it was hard.

Related Reading : Easy snacks for breastfeeding mothers

But there were a few foods that I ate during the early months of breastfeeding where I could see the increase in milk supply immediately after I ate them. Take this as anecdotal evidence as it doesn’t harm in trying these foods in case of low supply.

FOODS THAT HELPED WITH MY MILK SUPPLY

Fennel seeds

Desiccated coconut

Oats

Spinach

Fenugreek leaves

In general, no food is off-limits for a breastfeeding mother. Use your common sense, if you notice your baby getting extra fussy after you eat certain foods, maybe you eliminate that food for a while and reintroduce after a gap to check if the food is the cause of irritability.

CAFFEINE AND BREASTFEEDING

A cup or two of coffee or tea is not going to cause any harm to baby. But keep consumption low.

ALCOHOL AND BREASTFEEDING

Alcohol does pass into breastmilk and is not good for the baby. But, most mothers can drink in moderation while breastfeeding. It takes a 120-pound woman about three hours to eliminate the alcohol from her blood, so multiply the number of drinks you have by three hours to know how long before you feed alcohol-free milk to baby. 

You cannot rush the process by “pumping and dumping” or drinking water. You can use previously pumped milk if you need to feed after you drink alcohol.

For more details check here

MEDICATIONS WHEN BREASTFEEDING

When it comes to medications, it is best to consult your prescribing doctor and let him know that you are breastfeeding. There are many breastfeeding compatible medications, but the situation needs to be assessed by your doctor.

To sum it up,

Eating a balanced diet including a variety of different foods is important for breastfeeding mothers. Focus on adding protein-rich foods that help with satiety and keep junk food cravings away. This is not the time to indulge in calorie-rich empty foods, instead focus on building your nutrient reserves. This simple approach will help you gain strength, maintain milk supply, and also loose weight in the long run.

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