If you’re a breastfeeding mama, your baby will rely solely on your milk for the first 6 months of their life, until the point when you can introduce solids. This means you need to eat a healthy, nutrient-packed diet so that your breastmilk will contain all the nutrients your nursling needs.
You may have heard that breastfeeding will help you lose the baby weight. What actually happens is your body stores up fat during pregnancy, which helps to nourish the growing baby inside you. Breastfeeding will help your body deplete those fat stores.
You may also have heard that breastfeeding mamas get to eat extra calories. While this is something to discuss with your doctor, the general rule of thumb is that you can eat an additional 500 calories per day for as long as you are breastfeeding.
The goal is to eat a high calorie, high nutrition diet, not unlike the diet you were eating while pregnant. Despite the fact that mothers in famine conditions are capable of producing milk with nutritional content, malnourished mothers may produce milk with lacking levels of vitamins A, D, B6, and B12.
And this probably goes without saying, but breastfeeding mamas shouldn’t smoke. Studies show that smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day will reduce the mother’s milk supply and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, and restlessness in the infants. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is more common in babies that are exposed to smoke.
Heavy drinking has also been shown to harm infants. If you are breastfeeding, you should avoid binge drinking alcohol. An occasional drink here or there is fine, but you do need to wait 2 hours for each drink before feeding your baby. A good rule of thumb is if you’re not OK to drive, you’re not OK to feed your baby. But the good news is if you want to have a girls’ night out, you can pump milk for baby ahead of time and not have to worry.
Excessive consumption of caffeine by breastfeeding mamas can cause irritability, sleeplessness, and increased feeding in the infant. Moderate use (no more than 25 ounces per day) is typically fine and won’t cause adverse side effects. Breastfeeding mamas are usually advised to avoid caffeine (haha, just kidding, we know you’re not getting enough sleep for that!) or restrict their intake.
By following a healthy diet and limiting your intake of the above-mentioned vices, you’ll help your baby get the right nutrients for the duration of your breastfeeding journey.