You were probably looking forward to when you would finally be able to eat as you did before pregnancy after you gave birth. Everything you like and love.
But then you learned in the hospital that a breastfeeding diet also has its rules and that it is a good idea to follow them.
Ugh! I know it’s challenging. You are hungry and tired. You have your beloved baby in your hands, and you have to think about what you can and can’t eat.
“I was tired and hungry. So, I just screamed at everyone. I had no idea what I could eat”.
These were the words of a friend who was trying to figure out what she could actually eat while breastfeeding.
In this article, you will get a basic overview of what is good to follow when breastfeeding so that you will have enough milk, and your baby will get enough vitamins, minerals, and other essential substances.
“You don’t have to eat differently while you’re breastfeeding, but it’s important to have a healthy, balanced diet just like any other time”, or “You shouldn’t need any extra calories” – I found something like these on one of the many websites I visited when searching for what to eat when breastfeeding. Other sources said that a breastfeeding mother needed approximately 500 more calories than a non-breastfeeding mum. Furthermore, some doctors told me that I should not eat food that causes gas. But in the hospital, they served me bean meals right after giving birth! Some books also say I should avoid caffeine, but the moms I’ve met have drunk coffee and black tea… So what?
What do I eat and not eat for the child to be okay, calm, and happy without unnecessary colic, abdominal pain, and gas? Without anything circulating in their system that could cause them difficulties???
Do I need more calories during breastfeeding?
Yes. There is a reason why you feel much hungrier during the day. To make breast milk, your body needs extra calories and nutrients. The daily intake should be around 300 to 550 extra calories for nursing mothers. However, it depends on whether the baby is exclusively breastfed or also fed with formula.
Should I eat for two?
Yes and no. The old familiar rule that you need to eat for two applies to the number of nutrients, not the volume of food! Therefore, it is wise to have a varied diet that includes cereals and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Can I eat everything without restrictions?
No. The foods you consume do affect the quality and taste of your breast milk. Although many experts agree that breastfeeding mothers do not have to limit themselves in their diet, most of them report the following three foods and beverages as being inappropriate during breastfeeding:
1. Alcohol – 2. Caffeine – 3. Fish with high mercury content.
Can I have a drink?
Unless otherwise stated, a nursing mother can indulge in a glass of wine under the following conditions: She should pump her milk before drinking alcohol so that the baby can be later fed from the bottle. After drinking alcohol, she should wait a few hours for the alcohol to be removed from her circulation. Then, to be on the safe side, she should aspirate another dose of milk and then continue as usual.
And what if a friend invites me for coffee?
Most experts agree that a baby should not be harmed if their mother drinks 2-3 cups of coffee a day; that is, if her caffeine intake fits 300 mg per day. However, caffeine is a stimulant, and the baby does not yet know how to break it down. Therefore, some dietitians do not recommend caffeine at all during breastfeeding.
Does chocolate contain caffeine?
Yes! It may sound shocking, but chocolate also contains caffeine. So do energy drinks and some soft drinks.
You may already have a desperate look on your face at this point, indicating that you are starting to get lost. I understand! I was there too! And it was recently.
When my second son was born, I knew some dietary restrictions were ahead of me, but I forgot what they were like.
IT ALMOST BEAT ME when I started to learn more about it after giving birth. First, there was something different on the internet than what they told me in the maternity ward. Then the paediatrician claimed something completely different, and I then found more information in the studies.
In the end, I created my own cheat sheet based on all of the statements and, after trial and error, I summarized all of the signs of what to eat and what not to eat during breastfeeding. You can download it for free too.
Thanks to this sheet, we avoided any allergies or abdominal pain problems in the first six months. With one exception! I ate two large fresh figs straight from a tree in our garden, and the abdominal pains made me so sorry… I never knew figs could do that!
That’s precisely why I put them on my cheat sheet in the LIMIT category. So, foods that are not good when breastfeeding initially but can be added later through trial and error.
So, what about fish?
From the point of view of breastfeeding, fish are divided into two species. The first species are relatively safe fish (so-called oily fish, such as tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, and pilchards). The second species are fish that contain significant amounts of heavy metals, so it is good to keep their consumption to a minimum (swordfish, marlin, or shark).
So, what can I eat?
Now that you know what you shouldn’t eat and where you should limit yourself, let’s look at what is beneficial when breastfeeding.
It is advisable to focus on healthy dietary decisions. A varied and balanced diet plays a key role during breastfeeding, as almost everything a mother consumes passes into her breast milk. Therefore, a nursing mother’s diet should be represented by vitamins, minerals, proteins, a balanced ratio of carbohydrates and healthy fats, and fibre.
What should be on my plate every day?
Cereals in Whole Grains and Products Thereof
It is advisable to include three servings of cereal meals each day. Then, for example, indulge in them during the day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner or in smaller quantities.
Legumes serve as an excellent source of protein, and you should consume them regularly. So I gradually included them in my breastfeeding diet. I started with lentils around the end of the second month, and when I saw that my son was reacting okay, I added one more kind of legume every week. At that time, I was on a strictly vegan diet, and I replenished my protein supply mainly by eating tofu, soy meat, vegetable milk, and nuts.
Vegetables and Fruits
The daily dose of vegetables and fruits for a breastfeeding mother is 100 g of fruit or vegetables for every 10 kg of the mother’s weight. It is also great to alternate fruits and vegetables and try to consume products from local farmers in the area, ideally in BIO quality.
And Nuts and Oils and…
A breastfeeding mother should eat one handful of nuts and seeds a day and use cold-pressed quality oils when cooking.
If you still don’t know how to do it, download my cheat sheet about what to eat while breastfeeding. It has a total of seventeen (17) types of food that you can start eating right away without having to worry about whether they will cause your baby trouble.
You can always have this cheat sheet on hand, and it will serve as support before you find your way around it and decide what diet you want to follow.
The cheat sheet is made for vegans, so if you’re a mother carnivore, you can just add a piece of meat wherever you need it.
I wish you and your baby to always feel good… So here are some tips:
Get plenty of fluids a day, especially clean water. Herbal teas for breastfeeding mothers are also a nice variety as they contain herbs that are great for digesting babies and improving milk supplies.
Take a break. You have nine months of pregnancy behind you, and then you gave birth. The best thing you can do for yourself, your baby, and your milk supplies is to take a break.
The recipe for this is as follows. When baby sleeps, you lie down too. If you have someone to take care of your baby, take a shower and have a good meal. Now is the time to put your ego aside and ask your mother or mother-in-law to cook something delicious for you. The main thing is that you don’t have to!
You can also give them your cheat sheet so they know what ingredients they can use for cooking (link).
By the way, did you know these three fascinating things about breast milk?
Contrary to baby formula, breast milk’s composition, calorie count, and content constantly change. As a result, the milk is changed to meet all of the baby’s needs precisely. So, for example, babies will receive the necessary antibodies in breast milk when they are sick.
At the beginning of each breastfeeding, the baby receives milk composed mainly of water, and it is primarily used to quench the baby’s thirst. Later, the child drinks so-called hindmilk. This milk is thicker, richer in fat, and has more nutrients. Therefore, it is correct to let the baby drink all the milk from one breast and only then let it latch onto the other.
In addition, your oxytocin level will automatically increase when your baby latches to your breast. Thanks to this hormone, milk begins to flow. At the same time, you feel sensational at the moment, as if everything in the world is possible. Oxytocin is responsible for everything.