From the moment I became a mother, my purpose has been to love and protect my children with everything I have.
Being a mom is not easy, and being a nursing mom just adds to the challenges. But you still do it happily because it is for your baby, and your baby means the world to you.
But what mothers tend to forget is that their health is as important as their baby’s. In fact, their nutrition is extremely important as well and they should not take it for granted.
One just can not emphasize enough on the importance of diet for the breastfeeding moms.
Importance of Breastfeeding Nutrition for Moms
Breastfeeding is a very significant role of a mom as it passes on the essential nutrients to the baby, builds the baby’s immune system, and plays a major role in the development of the newborn.
Health Organizations like UNICEF and WHO also have goals to spread awareness about breastfeeding.
Baby is totally dependent on your milk for all the nutritional requirements. Hence, the right nutrition and diet are equally important to the breastfeeding mom if not more.
“Your child is a reflection/ an extension of you, and this holds true for your nutrition intake and health as well. What you eat goes into your baby while breastfeeding.”
There is no reason why you should ignore your health or not take care of what you eat. The right nutrients and the right diet for the breastfeeding moms can not be taken lightly.
If you are a breastfeeding mom, your body is constantly making milk for the baby. You are never at rest. This explains the loss of calories and hence the need for nutrients to cover/ make up for this loss.
What do experts say regarding Breastfeeding Nutrition for Moms?
According to the experts, breastfeeding moms require an extra 500 calories as your body burns at least 500cal in a day while making milk and breastfeeding.
Hence it is extremely important for them to pay attention to their nutrition and diet. This is why the researchers insist on a balanced diet of breastfeeding moms.
They also suggest that come what may, it is necessary to not skip breakfast and maintain a regular schedule for a healthy diet.
They also insist on two to three servings or even more of bread, cereals, fish, eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables per day, and at least 500 micrograms of folic acid in the diet each day.
Co-owner of C&J Nutrition, states that that at least 400 micrograms of multivitamins daily an essential part of breastfeeding nutrition.
According to Nancy Thurst, who is the director at lactation services at children’s hospital pavilion for women, Texas, water/ plenty of liquid helps recover from the stress of childbirth and gives more energy which is required while nursing/ breastfeeding.
What should be included in Breastfeeding Nutrition for Moms?
There are so many diets and foods around us that can provide nourishment to the nursing moms.
It is important to be aware of the ingredients which are required and form an integral part of breastfeeding nutrition for moms.
Moms that breastfeed usually complain of feeling hungry. According to research, Avocado is the answer to this problem.
Avocados contain 80 per cent of fat and give a feeling of fullness to the moms who feel low on energy due to breastfeeding and prove to be the perfect source of nutrition for breastfeeding moms.
Nuts are known to be rich in nutrition and minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B, vitamin K which are essential ingredients for breastfeeding nutrition in moms. They contain essential fatty acids and proteins.
Researches say nuts are used in Ayurvedic medicines and lactogenic foods as well which makes it a great choice for breastfeeding nutrition and diet.
3. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are found to be rich in protein, phytoestrogens, and minerals. Chickpeas (lactogenic legumes), soybeans (rich in phytoestrogens) are known to help in a healthy supply of milk in moms and take care of their health.
Mushrooms are rich sources of Beta-glucan. Intake of Foods rich in Beta-glucan leads to more milk production in nursing moms and hence mushrooms prove to be a good ingredient for breastfeeding nutrition.
Other Beta-glucan rich food sources known to increase milk production are oats, barley, yeast, algae, et cetera.
5. Green leafy vegetables
Along with many other benefits, green leafy vegetables are also known to aid the production of milk. Green leafy vegetables contain phytoestrogens which lead to increased milk production in moms.
So, it is a good idea to include these vegetables in your diet if you are a breastfeeding mom.
6. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are popular for their huge health-related benefits but they are also known for giving a feeling of fullness and reducing hunger pangs as they are a rich source of fibre, proteins, magnesium, and, omega 3 fatty acids.
Chia oil is also a great option to be included in the breastfeeding nutrition of moms as it is rich in omega 3 fatty acids as well.
7. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds being rich in omega 3 fatty acids are another great source of breastfeeding nutrition for moms. Apart from omega 3 fatty acids, they have high amino acid content.
Hemp seeds are a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals like zinc and iron which is essential for the mother’s as well as the infant’s health.
8. Flax seeds
Flax seeds are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, fibres, and proteins. In order to extract their benefits, they must be ground as whole flax seeds can not be digested by the body.
Flax oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids as well which makes Flax seeds and their oil a great option for breastfeeding nutrition.
Although there is no proof that turmeric helps in an increase in the production of milk in breastfeeding moms, it is still considered important for its immunity-boosting and health effects.
Ashwagandha is a herb used in Ayurvedic medicines and is also known by other names like Indian ginseng or winter cherry.
It has various uses and benefits for the reproductive, neurological, endocrine, and immune systems. It does not specifically help in milk production but is known to reduce stress levels in breastfeeding mothers.
According to various researches, the consumption of 300mg of Ashwagandha, twice a day, helps reduce stress and boost energy levels which is why it is highly recommended for breastfeeding nutrition in moms.
Oatmeal is a great option for lactating mothers since it is light as well as nutritious. It is known to regulate blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. It is good for breastfeeding nutrition and increases the production of milk in nursing mothers.
Garlic is another nutritious and healthy ingredient for lactating moms as it increases the milk supply in them.
Carrots are a rich source of beta carotene which is a great option for breastfeeding mothers.
14. Lactation foods
Lactation foods like fennels, fenugreek, brewers yeast, oats are known for their milk production/ increase properties in breastfeeding/ lactating moms and are recommended to be included in the diet of breastfeeding moms.
Protein-rich foods like whole grains, pulses, dry fruits, chicken, eggs are highly recommended for breastfeeding moms, and as a part of their nutrition and diet.
Fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, yoghurt, juices would also prove to be a great idea to be included in the diet.
According to the studies, Nursing/ breastfeeding moms are advised to include calcium, and iron supplements as well as at least 8 glasses of water as a part of their nutrition.
16. Some other things to consider
Vitamin B-12, bananas, fish, calcium, folic acid, and plenty of water are other ingredients that should form a part of nutrition for breastfeeding moms.
Foods that are an absolute ‘No-No’ for Breastfeeding Moms
There are a few food items that you should steer away from if you are a nursing mom. These are foods that you should not be included as a part of breastfeeding nutrition for moms.
1. Spicy foods
Your taste buds may trigger an urge in you to have your favourite spicy food, but it might not be a good idea for the health of your baby.
Your baby gets their food and diet through you, so you might not want to take risks and may give it a second thought.
2. Aerated/ Alcohol drinks
Being a mom demands a lot of lifestyle changes and this is just one of them. Your milk is made of what you eat and in this case, it is about what you drink.
Alcohol is anyway, not good for health, so why not quit this habit? After all, nothing is more important than your baby’s health.
You should try to include healthy options like lemon juice, or coconut water in your diet to replace your addictive urges for the sake of your baby’s health.
3. Caffeine/ Sugary drinks
You should try to limit/ control/ reduce its intake if not give up at all for the sake of your baby’s health.
Queries of every, Mom
“Having your bundle of joy in your arms is the greatest joy you have ever experienced.”
Now, you don’t want to take any risk with the baby’s health and you don’t want anything to go wrong.
Here are a few questions for which you would like to have an answer!
- Q: Can my diet/ Does food intake cause any allergies in my baby?
- A: The answer is Yes. Not in all cases, but it has been observed a few times that the baby becomes irritable/cranky/fussy or starts crying particularly after breastfeeding. The baby could also develop some allergy, experience diarrhoea, or a rash. In such a case, you need to notice what food in your diet could have caused it or you may also consult a doctor/ paediatrician if the issue persists.
- Q: What supplements may be required in my diet if I am a breastfeeding mom?
- A: Vitamin B-12 is highly recommended for breast Feeding nutrition in moms. You may not be getting enough of that in your diet if you are a strict vegetarian. That is when you may have to take the help of supplements. Apart from that, you may be advised to take omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin -D supplements but it is important to consult your doctor before you go ahead and take the plunge.
The Final Words for Breastfeeding Moms
You are a mom and as they say, moms have superpowers. You just have to pay a little ‘Attention’ to your nutrition and diet, and there is no stopping you.