Lately, I’ve been getting many questions in regards to proper nutrition in regards to breastfeeding. I am currently nursing my daughter, and I have to say, it is MUCH HARDER than I ever anticipated! I guess I just felt it would all happen naturally and easily and I would just make it work. Hmmm…not the case whatsoever. If you are a mother who has any history with attempting to nurse, you know what I mean!
Every woman has a different experience when nursing, and some women do not produce any milk at all. I have many friends that wanted to nurse their children, but just couldn’t produce enough to even feed them one feeding in an entire day. What were they doing wrong? NOTHING! The body does what it wants and although there are things that may help boost the milk supply for nursing mothers, some women will never produce enough to breastfeed.
Some people have such a strong opinion as to why it is crucial that every mother breastfeed their children. They will back their opinions with research that states:
Fighting off Infections Immediately after Birth…In the first days following delivery, your breasts produce colostrum, which is highly concentrated in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies. Colostrum naturally progresses to milk after about 2-weeks of feeding, and still provides immunity.
Lower Risk of Long-term Health Issues in Mothers… According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences, breastfeeding can actually reduce serious health risks in mothers such as Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. A 2010 article in Scientific American also states that the risk of heart disease in mothers is decreased by breastfeeding, because it is an effective way to break down the fats that tend to form around organs during pregnancy.
Reduced Financial Stress…While formula feeding also provides essential vitamins and nutrients to your baby, it can be expensive. In fact, when your baby is just a few weeks old he or she can consume close to 1.5 U.S. gallons of formula in just one week, which can cost you thousands of dollars per year if the formula is prepared in advance (powdered formula is usually cheaper).
Losing Weight and Getting into Pre-Baby Shape…Women who breastfeed can expect to lose about 1.6-pounds per month up to the first 6-months. The Mayo Clinic notes that while breastfeeding can require up to 400- to 500-extra calories a day, it’s still important for you to eat healthy foods that are rich in nutrients such as whole grains and fruits.
Lower Chance of Postpartum Depression…While breastfeeding has proven physical benefits for you and your baby, it can also stave off postpartum depression, which affects about 13-percent of women within 14-weeks of giving birth. According to a 2014 study that appeared in the Maternal and Child Health journal, the chances of suffering from postpartum depression are about 50-percent lower while breastfeeding.
Better Bonding with Baby…The time spent between you and your baby during nursing releases feel-good hormones for both of you and allows you to form a strong bond between one another. Children that were breastfed have lower rates of anxiety and depression later in life. The study found that breastfeeding for at least 10-months had the biggest impact on mental health symptoms in children.
Yes, there is scientific proof of many benefits to nursing your child, but formula fed children seem to do just fine as well! I have spoken with many women who have had experience breastfeeding and using formula…and there seems to be great outcomes with both. My point? Mothers should do what is best for them, their child, and their family. Do not stress out one way or the other…because your baby can sense the stress!
In regards to proper nutrition while nursing, I suggest the following:
- Eat 5-6 small meals per day, spaced 2-3 hours apart.
- Eat your first meal within 30 minutes after you awake in the morning.
- You will require an additional 500 calories (more than your typical diet) per day while breastfeeding because you burn up to 500 calories each day.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water. You should consume at least 100 fl. Oz of water/liquid each day in order to produce the proper amount of milk.
- Try to incorporate protein with as many meals as possible in order to stay in line with a LOW GLYCEMIC meal plan. You should eat AT LEAST 3 servings of protein per day while breastfeeding. Refer to the glycemic index chart to ensure you make smart food choices. CONTACT ME to purchase a customized meal plan with a list of foods ranked according to their Glycemic Index.
- You may eat green/fibrous/non-starchy vegetables at any time of day, in unlimited quantities. You should eat AT LEAST 4 servings of these vegetables per day while breastfeeding.
- Do not consume more than 1 alcoholic beverage per day. Consume (preferably) right after you nurse to allow a few hours for the alcohol to metabolize and for much less to reach your baby. Use Milkscreen to check the alcohol levels in your milk before you decide to breastfeed after drinking.
- Do not eat foods high in Mercury, such as shark, tilefish, and mackerel. Limit your intake of fish in general to ensure under consumption of Mercury.
- Do not exceed 2 caffeinated beverage per day while breastfeeding.
- Watch out for herbs, especially herbal teas, and stick with flavors such as peppermint, chamomile, and orange spice.
- Stay away from spicy food and foods that produce gas, because your baby will have a hard time digesting it as well.
- If you notice your baby is not reacting well after you eat a food containing nuts, citrus, eggs, wheat, soy, or fish, stay away from those products while breastfeeding!
- Eat AT LEAST 3 servings of calcium per day while breastfeeding. Plain Non-Fat Greek yogurt with added fruit is a great source of calcium during this time!