If you’re a breastfeeding mama, your baby will rely solely on your milk for the first 6 months of life, until you introduce solids. That means you need to eat a healthy diet so that your breastmilk contains all the nutrients your nursling needs. This means fruits, vegetables, dairy, and healthy fats such as nuts and avocados. Just remember that what you eat, your baby eats too. So take it easy on the sugary and processed foods.
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 talk to your doctor about, 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 dissimilar to 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 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 per 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 with no ill effects. Breastfeeding mamas are usually advised to avoid caffeine (haha, just kidding, we know you’re not getting enough sleep to be able to quit caffeine!) 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.