The best breastfeeding diet considers both the quantity and quality of food the mother eats for the health of both mother and baby. A breastfeeding diet plan consists of varied, balanced and nutritious foods supplemented by vitamins and plenty of fresh water. Breastfeeding mothers should consume alcohol and caffeine in moderation, if at all. Other things to avoid while breastfeeding include foods with trans and saturated fats, a high mercury content and pesticides. The mother may also need temporarily to eliminate certain foods from her diet if her baby shows food sensitivities.
Mothers need around 2,500 calories a day for healthy breastfeeding. These calories should be spread out over the course of the day to counterbalance the energy mothers continuously expend to make milk all day. The calories of a breastfeeding diet should come from a variety of foods to ensure adequate nutrition while breastfeeding, because nutrition affects the quantity and quality of milk produced. Mothers should also continue taking prenatal vitamins and drink enough filtered water to quench their thirst.
The best foods for breastfeeding include foods that contain calcium, good fats, complex carbohydrates and protein. To produce milk, mothers must consume at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, either from a supplement or from milk, other dairy products, salmon, broccoli, tofu, almonds and raw vegetables. Mono- and polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fats, are essential for an infant’s nervous system and are found in fish, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Mothers need around 65 grams of protein daily; this protein can come from a variety of sources including meat, seafood, eggs, milk, peanut butter and soy. To round off the balanced breastfeeding diet, mothers should also consume at least five servings of complex carbohydrates daily from fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
It’s best to drink alcohol and caffeinated beverages in moderation, if at all, and only after feeding, because both can enter the mother’s milk. Mothers should also read nutrition labels to avoid trans and saturated fats found in junk food, fried foods, processed foods and fatty meat. Finally, breastfeeding mothers should stay away from fish with high mercury content. Avoiding pesticides by choosing organic fruits and vegetables also may be of benefit to both mother and baby.
If the mother notices that her baby refuses to breastfeed or becomes gassy, irritable or colicky, she should eliminate potential problem foods. The mother should also look out for signs of allergies, such as rashes, wheezing or abnormal stool. Foods that may cause such complications include cow’s milk, broccoli, chocolate, caffeine, spices, eggs, citrus, nuts and wheat.