What Foods Should I Eat While Breastfeeding?

Even after giving birth, you're still eating for two. That's because most moms choose to breastfeed their newborns, and this means your baby can get tremendous benefits from the kind of food that you eat.

Breast milk is naturally filled with critical nourishing nutrients as well as compounds that are designed to support your baby's growth and development.

Of course, your baby isn't the only one who benefits from breastfeeding. Studies have shown that it's possible breastfeeding may reduce your chances of developing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, among others.

Plus, most moms report feeling closer and more connected to their baby through breastfeeding sessions, and there is evidence that nursing is a healthy and natural way to reduce stress.

It is crucial to understand that your body needs better nourishment at this time to support your health and wellness as well as your ability to produce nutrient-dense breast milk. This means that you may have to be choosier than ever about what you eat so that you're taking in enough nutrition for you and your baby.

Breast Milk and Nutrition Basics

The more care you take with your diet postpartum, the better you will feel. Getting the right mix of healthy nutrients will give you more energy, help you sleep better at night, and generally support your demanding role as a new mom.

Because you are taking care of yourself and eating well, you are ensuring that your baby also is getting the best possible nutrition. In fact, breast milk contains all of the nutrition that your baby needs for the first six months of life as long as you are eating all of the necessary nutrients.

According to scientific evidence, breast milk consists of approximately 87% water with varying degrees of other components like fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

However, it's vital to understand that the composition of your breast milk may change in the midst of a nursing session and throughout the time that you are lactating. Breast milk varies based on the needs of your baby and your nutritional intake.

As an example, in the beginning of a nursing session, your breast milk is quite watery and is designed to help your baby deal with thirst. Then, the breast begins producing the thicker, fattier, and much more nutritious hindmilk. Because hindmilk contains more fat and calories, it's important that your baby be allowed to empty the first breast before moving on to the second.

Nutrient-Dense Foods for Breastfeeding

salmon with vegetables

If you want to ensure that your baby is getting the best possible nutrition, it's vital that you feed yourself well.

Most breastfeeding moms find that they are hungrier than they have ever been during the lactation period. This is because producing breast milk is a demanding process for your body. Accordingly, you'll want to take in extra calories and focus your meals on achieving higher amounts of certain nutrients.

Research suggests that breastfeeding moms need approximately 500 calories more per day than they were consuming before. At the same time, the need for protein and nutrients like vitamins A, E, C, and B12 increase. It's also important to ensure that you're getting enough zinc and selenium.

When you choose foods that are rich in these items, you're ensuring that you and your baby get the nutritional support that is so critical to both of you.

Which foods should you emphasize when you are breastfeeding? Here is a sensible list:

  • Seafood and fish
  • Starches that are rich in fiber like potatoes, squash, oats, and quinoa
  • Poultry and meat
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Good-for-you fats from sources such as full-fat yogurt, eggs, avocados, coconut, and olive oil
  • Seeds and nuts

To simplify, try focusing on whole foods that are prepared with a minimum of processing. This ensures that you and your baby are getting the nutrition you deserve.

The Two Nutrient Groups in Breast Milk

This is where the link between mom's nutritional intake and the composition of breast milk becomes just a bit more complicated. The nutrients that commonly are found in breast milk can be broken down into two categories.

Group one nutrients include:

  • Selenium from seafood, whole wheat, and seeds
  • Iodine from iodized salt, milk, and cod
  • Vitamin B1 from beans, nuts, pork, and fish
  • Vitamin B2 from eggs, red meat, cheese, and oily fish
  • Vitamin A from eggs, dark leafy greens, and sweet potatoes
  • Choline from peanuts, fish, eggs, and liver

When mom isn't taking in enough of these nutrients, then they do not make it into breast milk in sufficient quantities. This means that it may be necessary to take a supplement to boost your intake of these items so that you can be certain your baby is getting everything that he needs.

Then, there are the group two nutrients, which include items such as zinc, copper, iron, calcium, and folate. These nutrients are less critical for your baby, but are extremely important to you. That's because the concentration of these components in breast milk is not dependent upon how much you ingest.

Nonetheless, it's crucial to ensure that you are getting these nutrients to help replenish the store in your body so that you have everything you need to thrive. If you do not take in enough of these nutrients, your body naturally steals them from your bones and tissues to add them to breast milk. Your baby gets the proper amount no matter what, but your own body will become depleted. This means that a proper diet and supplementation may be critical to your health.

Should You Take Supplements?

various supplements

The number-one factor when it comes to your health and the health of your baby is a good, nutrient-dense diet. Nonetheless, you certainly may find it beneficial to take some supplements, especially when it comes to replenishing your own supply of vitamins and minerals.

Many new moms are encouraged to take a daily multivitamin, since research suggests that most new moms are deficient in at least a couple of vitamins and minerals. It may also be vital for moms to take a Vitamin B-12 supplement if they are not getting enough of this nutrient from eating poultry, meat, eggs, and fish. Most high-quality multivitamins contain a sufficient amount of B-12.

Supplements containing Omega-3 fats also support the health of both mom and baby. When Omega-3 levels are sufficient in breast milk, it supports the development of your baby's eyes, skin, and nervous system. Omega-3 fats may be obtained from eating fatty fish and taking a krill oil or fish oil supplement.

Additionally, Vitamin D may be a critical supplement for new moms. This is because this nutrient is found in relatively few foods. The body can produce Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, but this isn't always enough.

Often, a Vitamin D supplement is critical for new moms, as a deficiency of this nutrient is common in women who are breastfeeding. A Vitamin D supplement can even help to alleviate or prevent postpartum depression, making it a critical factor in your health and wellness.

Supplement Your Nutrition with Euphoric Herbals

Breastfeeding moms need all of the help and support that they can get. This is precisely what Euphoric Herbals supplies with a full range of teas and capsules that are designed to boost milk production and improve the health of mothers and babies.

Try one or more of our breastfeeding support products to increase your daily intake of critical vitamins and minerals that will support your health and ensure that your baby is getting the nutrition he or she needs for healthy growth and development.

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