Breastmilk provides perfect nutrition for optimal development of your baby. You may breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, and then continue breastfeeding for as long as you and your baby desire. Till then, here is a guide on what your breastfeeding diet plan should be to so that you are well-nourished yourself.
As a mother who is breastfeeding, you need little more calories (400-500 kcal/day) to keep up your energy but you don't need any special breastfeeding diet. Your body is efficient at producing nutrient dense breastmilk with a normal healthy diet. So, eat a balanced diet and reap the rewards for your as well as your baby's health.
A balanced diet that has foods from all food groups help in body building, boosting immunity and providing the extra energy required by a breastfeeding mother. Follow this breastfeeding diet plan to in your daily meals to increase breastmilk:
You need 6-11 servings of carbohydrates (starch). Choose wholegrain varieties of roti, bread, cereal, rice and pasta for added fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Include plenty (5-8 servings) of fruits and vegetables, as these are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruits are especially good to meet the increased requirements of iron and calcium.
Eat 3-4 servings of lean protein from pulses, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. Non-vegetarians can choose lean meats, poultry and fish. Also choose low fat milk and milk products.
Fat is an essential nutrient in the diet, as 50% of the calories of breast milk comes from fat. So include healthy fats from nuts and seeds. Flax-seeds and walnuts are good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Non-vegetarian can eat oily fish and eggs.
Breastmilk is 88% water by weight, so this is the most critical nutrient required to meet the demands of a suckling baby. Try to drink at least 1.5-2 litres of water each day at frequent intervals.
During breastfeeding, your body releases oxytocin hormone, which makes you feel thirsty, so keep a bottle of water next to where you nurse your baby. You can also drink coconut water, as it is loaded with electrolytes and is low in sugar.
Foods to avoid while breastfeeding
As you follow a breastfeeding diet, you may have moments when you think of indulging, remember, while breastfeeding, you can eat anything you like in moderation. However, traces of what you eat and drink get into the breastmilk, so be watchful of your baby. Certain foods or drinks can make your baby irritable or cause an allergic reaction (such as rash, diarrhea or congestion), soon after nursing. If you suspect, something in your diet is affecting your baby, stop eating or drinking it for a week or so. Then, try the food again to see how it affects the baby. If you find they'reunsettled, you may want to cut out the food permanently from your breastfeeding diet. Common allergy causing foods are dairy, peanuts, soy, wheat, eggs or corn.
Avoid large volumes of caffeine (coffee, strong tea, or cola), as this can affect the nutrient make-up of breastmilk. In some women, including caffeine in your breastfeeding diet can disrupt the milk supply. So, limit your caffeine intake for two or less cups a day.
Also, to make sure that you and your baby are getting all the vitamins, you need to continue a daily prenatal vitamin until you wean your baby. Vitamin D helps bones and teeth to grow, and is made by our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight, so regular sun exposure for 15-20 minutes is a must for you and your baby.