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Best foods to eat while breastfeeding

You should not eat more than usual or deprive yourself of certain foods because of breastfeeding. You should only maintain a healthy and balanced diet and not become obsessed. These are the answers to the most frequent doubts about mother’s feeding and best foods to eat while breastfeeding.

Young woman eating breakfast. Breastfeedeinf nutrition.
You just need to mantain a healthy and balanced diet.

To the doubts about raising their children, some new mothers add those of their own feeding:

What should I eat while breastfeeding the baby?, and What do I need to avoid?, Will it make the milk taste bad?, Will I be like a cow for breastfeeding? 

Fortunately, most mothers have an excellent diet if they follow their instincts. Whether or not the woman breastfeeds, she can eat what she wants and in the amount she wants. Here you will find the answers to those questions that may concern you.

What foods should I eat?

mother nursing her baby by the window

A healthy diet for a breastfeeding mother is the same as for everyone else: a base of cereals (bread, rice, pasta…) and legumes (lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans…), supplemented with fruit or vegetables and meat and fish occasionally. It is advisable not to abuse sugar and sweets, salty snacks, sweetened soft drinks, fats…

How much food do I need?

Your appetite will dictate the quantities. It is almost never wrong and mistakes do not go unnoticed: if you lose several pounds, you need to eat more, and if you get fat, you need to eat less. If you breastfeed, you just need to eat more. During breastfeeding, just like during pregnancy, a woman’s metabolism changes, and she makes much better use of the energy in food.

Are there any forbidden elements while breastfeeding?

woman's hand holding a glass of orange juice

No, there are not. It isn’t bad to eat chips, mayonnaise or cakes, as long as they are not the only components of the diet.

What the mother eats has very little influence on the composition of the milk. Even if you don’t eat well, your milk is still excellent. It’s in your best interest to follow a balanced diet for your health, not for your child’s. Some foods change the taste of the milk (garlic, onions, asparagus, artichokes, spices…), but they do not make the child eat more or less.

If after eating a certain food the baby gets nervous at the breast and does not want to suck, you know that he does not like it and, if you want, you can avoid it. In any case, as the taste of the food already passes through the placenta, there is usually no problem with foods that the mother usually eats, as her child is used to them.

No food that the mother takes causes gas in her child. This is a false belief. Certain foods cause gas in the intestine during digestion. But that gas cannot pass into the milk, because it would have to pass through the blood to do so. Allergies. If your child has a food allergy, your pediatrician will recommend that you stop eating it during breastfeeding.

Can I go on a diet?

vegetables on a table. Carrots, tomatoes, raspberries, rosemary herb

A part of the weight gain during pregnancy is reserved for milk production. Most mothers keep the weight off for the first three months, and only then do they start to lose it naturally.

If a woman does not breastfeed, she may need to watch her diet and exercise more.If you really need to lose weight, a diet of about 1,750 calories a day will allow you to lose weight gradually (11 pounds in 10 weeks), without altering your milk production.

Are there any foods that help produce more milk?

No. If a baby gets fatter than another, it is not because the mother has more milk, but because the child is more likely to swallow it. So don’t listen to popular beliefs: you don’t have to eat milk and hazelnuts.

How much water should I drink?

As much as you want. If you breastfeed, you will be more thirsty than usual, especially during the feeding, because the hormone oxytocin produces thirst. It is automatic, you don’t need to calculate, nor force yourself to drink water if you don’t feel like it.

How to organise yourself to eat well

mother and children at the kitchen preparing food

If it’s your first child, you may feel overwhelmed by your new obligations (and if it’s your third, you’ll have more experience, but also many more obligations). Many mothers find themselves without time to cook or almost to eat, and fear that they will be underfed because they will pick up some snacks from the fridge, sometimes standing up with the child in their arms.

Don’t panic. Whatever the popular wisdom says, food is as cold as it is hot, it is not necessary to eat at the same time every day, and snacking is healthier than having three meals a day.

Eating the same thing, but more spread out, is better for blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol, and you can snack on many things that are not junk (fruit, a snack, a carrot, a piece of cheese, some almonds…). A trick: if you get used to preparing twice as much of each recipe, you will have enough left over for dinner, or for freezing. The microwave is very useful for defrosting and heating leftovers.

Do I need more vitamins?

No, you don’t need to take any vitamin or mineral supplements to breastfeed. Our regular diet already contains them. For breast milk to be deficient in any vitamins, a woman would have to get sick first.

Best foods to eat while breastfeeding

Calcium

You don’t need calcium supplements either. During the first six months of breastfeeding, all mothers lose calcium from their bones as a result of hormonal changes . After six months, the metabolism changes, and bones build up calcium, even if the mother does not take any supplements.

Iron

If you have lost a lot of blood during childbirth, you may be anemic and need iron. If not, the iron in food is enough. When she breastfeeds, her period is delayed by several months, so the mother does not lose iron, but saves it.

Vitamin B12

A varied diet contains a lot of vitamin B12, but no food of plant origin carries it. Strict vegetarians must take supplements all their lives. This is especially important during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

If you have any other advice about best foods to eat while breastfeeding or think we are missing something, you can write it in the comment box. We would love to hear about your experience.

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