Nutrition for Nursing Mothers
While there is no special diet for nursing mothers, some dietary considerations for breastfeeding mothers include attention to caloric intake and a commitment to adhering to a well balanced diet. To ensure you and your baby are receiving proper nutrition, pay attention to the following:
During pregnancy, your calorie requirements increased. Likewise, your caloric intake must increase while breastfeeding. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), nursing mothers secrete 425 to 700 calories into their breast milk daily. The APA recommends you increase your caloric intake by 500 calories per day. Remember to choose healthy, nutrient dense foods to reach this goal.
Nursing mothers need about 3 or more servings of whole grains and complex carbohydrates per day. This includes brown rice, whole wheat toast, rice cakes, whole grain cereal, beans, lentils, and granola. They contain vitamins E and B, minerals like magnesium, and fiber which fights constipation.
Fruits and Vegetables
Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel of “Eating Well When You're Expecting” suggest 3 to 4 servings of green leafy and yellow vegetables, along with yellow fruit. These particular fruits and veggies are the “powerhouses of produce”. Yellow vegetables and fruits and green vegetables are rich in phytochemicals, carotinoids, folic acid, magnesium, vitamin E, and riboflavin. Some examples include apricots, mangos, peaches, tangerines, and grapefruit. Vegetable suggestions are spinach, broccoli, leafy lettuce, winter squash, and carrots.
In addition, include one to two servings of other fruits and vegetables for a total of at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Nursing women need at least 8 glasses of fluid each day (64 ounces). If you drink much more or less it may compromise milk production. Your fluid quota can be met with water, milk, herbal tea, juice, or decaf coffee.
5 servings of calcium everyday is the recommendation for breastfeeding women. You can reach this goal by choosing both dairy and nondairy products. Good choices include yogurt, milk, sardines with bones, salmon with bones, sesame seeds, or calcium -fortified juices.
Nursing mothers should include 3 servings of protein per day. If you are a vegan, you should include an additional serving of vegetable protein to your diet. Good protein choices include eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, fish, shellfish, poultry without skin, lean beef, veal, or lamb. There are fish limitations for nursing mothers. You should eat no more than 12 ounces per week of low mercury fish. Low mercury fish include shrimp, clams, crab, scallops, cod, canned salmon, pollock, and catfish. In addition, you should eat no more than 6 ounces of tuna per week.
The USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine suggests nursing mothers eat a wide range of foods and spices, as incorporating a variety of smells and tastes in breast milk may improve how your baby weans to solid foods. Keep a record of those foods that your baby seems to be sensitive or allergic to, and eliminate those that are consistently problematic. Usually, the most problematic foods are those in the broccoli family like cauliflower or cabbage, spicy foods, peanuts, chocolate, eggs, milk, soy, citrus fruits, and foods that include gluten.
Eating well will help you produce a good milk supply and help ensure your baby is receiving excellent nutrition.