Nutrition and Breastfeeding
Many people think eating during pregnancy is the difficult part and once they have the baby there is a small sigh of relief because they don’t have to follow all the “strict” rules of pregnancy anymore, however; breastfeeding is still a time when you need to really focus on your nutrition (it still directly affects your baby). Yes, you can resume eating sushi and now enjoy a glass of wine or a beer or two, but it is not wise to pick up any bad habits you dropped after becoming pregnant.
Can you breastfeed while eating a poor diet?
Yes. While it is not ideal to eat an unhealthy diet while breastfeeding, our bodies do an excellent job at doing what they are supposed to do, i.e. produce milk for a newborn baby. So, the good news is no matter what kind of food you are eating (as long as you are eating) you will produce a sufficient amount of breastmilk to nourish your baby.
Is your milk higher in quality if you eat a highly nutritious diet?
Yes. Just as in pregnancy, whatever you nourish your body with the baby is nourished with too. So, the better you eat the better quality your milk will be.
Are there foods I need to avoid while breastfeeding?
It depends. Some moms can eat anything from spicy fried chicken to 3 bean chili and their baby will have no side effects (fussiness, gas, constipation, etc.), however, some moms prefer to omit gas-forming foods (beans, cabbage, broccoli, etc.) as they notice these foods cause their baby to be gassy. This will be different for every mom and baby; it is basically a trial and error type scenario.
Do I still need to take a supplement?
Yes. It is still highly recommended to continue taking your prenatal vitamin or a good quality multi-vitamin. This will depend on your specific state of health.
Do I need to eat more while I breastfeed?
Most likely, yes. The calorie increase is similar to the third trimester. If you haven’t heard, researchers estimate that breastfeeding alone burns 500 calories per day (hence the weight loss factor of breastfeeding, woohoo!). You may find that you are very hungry and thirsty while you are breastfeeding, this is normal. Listen to your hunger cues and eat accordingly.
A note about weight loss after the baby.
It is extremely normal to want to return to your pre-baby weight after delivery, however it is, not ideal to start cutting calories/dieting and doing intense exercise for at least the first 3-6 months after the baby arrives. It is important that your doctor clears you for exercise before you begin any sort of programs.
6 nutrients that are still vital during breastfeeding
- B vitamins
- Fatty acids and DHA
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
Focus on high quality proteins such as seafood and eggs, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, dairy + probiotics, healthy fats such as nuts/seeds and avocados, and a portion-controlled size of whole grains. Oh, and stay hydrated! Water makes up the majority of breastmilk so if you don’t drink enough your supply may diminish.
If you need more guidance or find yourself hungry all the time, get in touch so we can enhance your diet and keep you and baby nutritionally sound.
Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols
Eatright.org Nutrition Care Manual