Breastfeeding Diet: What to Include & What to Avoid
As a new mama, there are so. many. questions! Though it often feels like other new parents have it together and know what they’re doing, the truth is that parenthood tends to be a learn-as-you-go experience for everyone.
Many of us have questions regarding what to include and avoid in our diets to best support our bodies and our postpartum recovery; questions which are only amplified if we’re breastfeeding.
The key to breastfeeding and nutrition is to focus on including key foods in your diet that will support your body, replenish what’s depleted, and give your little one the vitamins that he or she needs for proper development.
In this post, we’re breaking down the information to give you a quick guide on the dos and don’ts of postpartum eating.
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Foods to include
What you give to your body directly correlates to what your baby receives. To benefit both of you, focus on consuming these vitamins. The average breastfeeding mama requires 500 extra calories per day. Listen to your body, and give it the fuel it needs.
What? Creates healthy bones, teeth, and skin
Where? Dark leafy greens, egg yolks, sweet potatoes, carrots
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
What? Healthy heart and nerve function; Helps the body use carbs for energy
Where? Fish, pork, peas, nuts, bread
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
What? Aids in red blood cell development
Where? Cheese, almonds, red meat, oily fish, eggs
What? Helps red blood cell development; Healthy brain function
Where? Avocados, poultry, bananas, seeds, dried fruit
What? Creates cells and DNA; Protects nerve cells
Where? Shrimp, crab, oily fish, milk, cheese
What? Metabolizes fats; Helps brain and nerve function
Where? Eggs, fish, peanuts, beef liver
What? Aids in calcium absorption and balance
Where? Cod liver oil, fish, mushrooms, sunshine
What? Regulates thyroid hormones; Provides antioxidants
Where? Walnuts, seafood, whole wheat
What? Nursing mamas are often low on iron; Healthy levels are needed for lactation. Low levels cause fatigue and can worsen postpartum symptoms
Where? Clams, spinach, red meat, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, tofu, dark chocolate
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What? Baby’s brain development!
Where? Fish, grass-fed beef, eggs, chia seeds, walnuts
What? Thyroid function and newborn brain development
Where? Seaweed, cod, shellfish, potato skin
What? Cell function and growth
Where? Squash, dark greens, lentils, corn, or a pure methyl folate-containing supplement.
What? Breastmilk production; Overall health (beneficial for babies too)
Where? Chickpeas, papayas, oatmeal
If this list seems long and overwhelming (trust us, you’re not alone!), the best thing you can do is make sure that you’re consuming a well-rounded diet filled with healthy carbohydrates, lots of protein, and a healthy amount of fats and fiber. In doing this, you will likely be giving your body and baby the nutrients that you both need.
Foods to Avoid
Just as there are foods that you should focus on including in your diet, there are also some foods that you should be mindful to avoid. These are for various reasons, though many can negatively affect your supply or pass things to your baby that they shouldn’t consume.
Fish is tricky. It shouldn’t be consumed in high amounts when breastfeeding, and certain types like mackerel and swordfish should be avoided altogether. This is because the high levels of mercury can negatively affect your baby’s development.
If you do want to include fish in your diet, options like salmon and tilapia should be okay when consumed in small quantities. Be sure that they’re out of your system before breastfeeding, just to be safe.
We all know that alcohol is a large pass when it comes to babies. If consumed, be sure that it is fully out of your system before feeding your little one. It should be out of your system once the alcohol has fully metabolized, length depending on the amount you drank. Waiting 1-3 hours for feeding time is recommended.
Try to avoid caffeine when breastfeeding your baby. Babies in general shouldn’t consume caffeine, not to mention the horror it would cause to their sleep schedule! Try to avoid caffeinated beverages while breastfeeding.
Even when we eat the right things and fill our bodies with whole, healthy foods, we can still be lacking in certain areas. To ensure that you’re receiving all of the vitamins and minerals needed to replenish your body, keep you energized, and boost your milk supply, consider adding supplements to your diet.