Diet tips for breastfeeding women: foods to eat and avoid

Breast milk is the best nutrition for newborns. The World Health Organization and all major health advisories recommend exclusive breast milk for at least the first six months of a baby’s life. Breast milk is a baby’s first food that promotes growth and development. It contains all the nutrients a baby needs to thrive – complete food. Breast milk is crucial for boosting immunity, brain development, and healthy growth. Other benefits are easy to access, no hassle of cleanliness or temperature control – a ready-to-eat, hassle-free meal.

Breastfeeding mothers also need healthy food to stay healthy and easily feed their babies. Each nutrient helps make it a happy and comfortable part of your life.

Diet tips for breastfeeding mothers


The body expends a lot of energy in the production of milk, so the calorie demand remains at an additional 300-350 Kcal / day. Choose whole grains to fuel your body, they are high in nutrients and add healthy calories. Fruits, dairy products, healthy fats from vegetable oils and nuts and seeds are other good choices to make to meet energy needs. Avoid the excess of simple sugars found in juices, sugary drinks and sweets.

Read also: Table of Pregnancy Foods and 5 Key Nutrients for a Healthy Pregnancy

Diet for hungry mothers: Fruits, grains and vegetables are a must. (Photo credit: iStock)


Help fuel milk production. In addition, they also help your body recover from the stress of childbirth. Good protein choices include low-mercury dairy, eggs, chicken, meat, legumes, and seafood. Grains like quinoa and amaranth are also good sources of protein.

Fats and oils

In addition to being concentrated sources of energy, oils also add flavor to our food. In addition to fueling the growth of the baby, healthy oils also help in the development of the brain and nervous system.

Vitamins and minerals

Mothers who consume adequate amounts of micronutrients pass adequate amounts on to the child. If the mother lacks a vitamin or mineral, the growth of her baby may be hampered. Vitamin B12 is needed to support brain development and healthy production of red blood cells – non-vegetarian foods are a good source of B12. A vegetarian mother may consider a supplement under the guidance of her doctor. Iodine is an essential mineral during pregnancy and breastfeeding. An iodine deficient mother may not be able to provide adequate nutrition for the cognitive and psychomotor development of the child. Iodized salt is the easiest way to include iodine in your foods along with milk, seafood, and eggs. Sufficient calcium and folic acid are also needed.

Read also: 7 foods that can naturally improve milk production


Diet for mothers in need: technically, water is not food. But it ensures a regular supply of milk. (Photo credit: iStock)

Some common concerns of nursing mothers are:

1. Weight gain: Breastfeeding is the best way to lose weight. Breast milk production needs a lot of calories, so getting enough calories from nutrient-dense sources will help you stay energized and lose extra weight. Calorie restriction can lead to reduced milk production and poor quality nutrient intake which can adversely affect your health and that of your child.

2. How much liquid do I need? Hydration is of paramount importance for our body to function. Drink enough water and fluids with no calories, around 35-45ml / kg body weight, watch your urine color, if dark, drink more water. Taking water or liquid before breastfeeding helps milk production.

3. Do the foods a mother eats affect the baby: Anything the mother consumes can be passed on to the baby. Certain foods can cause colic in the child or the child may also have a rash, if you are able to identify these triggers, avoid the same.


Choosing a variety of foods will help you change the flavor of your milk. (Photo credit: iStock)

Foods to Avoid:

1. Alcohol in breast milk is not safe for your baby. Avoid alcohol until you are breastfeeding your baby. Alcohol causes low energy in babies and a host of other health problems.
2. Caffeine: EExcessive consumption of caffeine in the form of 4-10 cups of coffee or tea, carbonated drinks, energy drinks, chocolates can cause irritability and sleep disturbances in the baby. 1-2 cups / day is sure to have.
3. Mercury: Mercury can enter a mother’s diet from fish can be very dangerous. Be sure to source the fish or avoid it altogether.

Adequate milk production is also a concern for some mothers. Certain foods are a rich source of compounds called galactagogues, which help induce, maintain and increase milk production in humans. Foods that contain galactagogues include:

  1. Fenugreek-methi
  2. Fennel & anise: Saunf and moti saunf
  3. herbs like Shatavari
  4. Garlic

Additionally, some herbs and spices traditionally used and recommended by Ayurveda that help increase milk production include:
Powdered ginger, cardamom and saffron.

Choosing a variety of foods will help change the flavor of your milk, which means when the baby is ready for weaning foods it will be easier. The variety will also ensure that you get the maximum amount of nutrients in your meal. Feeding your baby is also a very emotionally satisfying time for mother and child, so take advantage of it.

Stay safe, stay healthy!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, adequacy or validity of the information contained in this article. All information is provided as is. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV assumes no responsibility in this regard.

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About Jamie Collins

Jamie Collins

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