5 Things to Eat While Breastfeeding
The saying “you are what you eat” becomes doubly true when spoken of a breastfeeding mother. Basically, whatever a mother eats will become her breast milk – and whatever breast milk her baby consumes determines how well that child will grow and develop.
So it goes without saying that watching what you eat while you’re breastfeeding should be a main priority. But aside from avoiding certain foods, it’s also essential that lactating mothers choose foods that will help improve their milk supply.
If you’re wondering what you should eat more of now that you’re breastfeeding, make sure to toss these items in your shopping cart the next time you visit the grocery store.
Water – The most basic and most important thing you should consume more of when you’re lactating is water. This simple staple is more than just a way to stay hydrated – it’s essential if you want to have a steady supply of fluid that you can turn into breast milk.
There are a lot of hormonal and bodily changes involved in the production of milk, but for all of these adjustments to be successful, your body needs to have enough water.
That’s because your body converts your water content to milk. If there isn’t enough for both your system and your milk production, your body will have to cut back on lactation to meet your system’s needs for survival.
Reduced milk production could lead to supply deficiency, making it difficult for your baby to meet their daily dietary requirements. This could then result to malnutrition and dehydration in your little one.
As a general rule, lactating mothers should always make sure to consume more water than the usually required intake. According to experts, the magic number lies at around 80 ounces of water a day, but you can take in more depending on what you feel your body needs.
If you’ve developed a dehydrating medical condition such as diarrhea or if you particularly enjoy getting active by working out in the gym, it would be best to make sure you consume even more water to make up for the losses.
Grains, Oats, and Fiber – According to studies and research, breastfeeding mothers who consumed more calories in a day are able to produce more milk. What’s more, these mothers also have more nutritious output compared to mums who count calories.
This is mainly because the body uses calories as a form of energy-giving fuel. Because the process of producing milk requires your body to perform more functions than it usually would, you should expect an increase of demand in energy-giving calories.
Experts recommend that mothers take in up to 500 calories more than their usual diet before they started lactating, so that could land you anywhere around 2,000 calories a day. However, because most mothers struggle to meet this magic number, altering your diet slightly to make reaching the goal easier might be ideal.
Among all the food groups, grains, oats, and fiber like rice, bread, and pasta contain much more calories per serving. This means you could meet the 2,000 calorie mark much easier without having to down food that makes you feel fuller with lesser calories.
If you want to make sure that you have enough calories in your system to produce nutritious milk, incorporate three servings of rice dishes, pastas, breads, and other starchy foods into your diet. You can also have several servings of oatmeal throughout the day to keep you feeling full, and to maintain your milk production at the right rate.
Moringa – They say that breastfeeding mother should avoid green, leafy vegetables when lactating because it compromises the quality of breast milk. Despite this however, the deep green leaves of the moringa plant can prove to be highly beneficial to breastfeeding mothers.
Also called ‘malunggay’, moringa is a drought-resistant tree that can be found in many areas of the globe. It’s most common in Asia where it is used as a medicinal herb for many different health conditions.
Although the health benefits of moringa for breastfeeding have yet to be fully established, there are countless generations of women who swear by its benefits. What’s more, studies conducted on moringa have shown promising results regarding its ability to increase milk supply and improve milk quality.
While moringa can be a very healthy milk supply enhancer for mums, it can be difficult to source. Often, moringa can come in the form of capsules, teas, and powders. Mostly, these products can be purchased online or through specialty herbal stores.
Of course, the fresh unprocessed moringa leaves are still most beneficial. However, they can be a challenge to find especially if they’re not readily available in your area.
Preparing natural moringa leaves is as simple as plucking the leaves off of the stalks and washing them thoroughly before adding them into your meal. This can be included in soups and salads as a garnish without altering the taste of the dish. They can also be boiled together with stews for maximum flavor infusion.
Salmon – They say that eating your fair share of lean meats while lactating will give you a big boost of protein. But among all the fish and meat you can consume, salmon proves to be the most beneficial.
Jam packed with omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, and other vitamins and minerals, salmon is a milking-mommy diet staple that no lactating mother should be without.
Because new born babies can be very frail and weak, the slightest infections can cause serious health complications. This is what makes salmon an even more important component of any milking mommy’s diet.
By taking in more salmon right before giving birth and for several months after your baby is born, you can strengthen his or her immunity against health threats and prevent any illness from developing in your child.
This particular protein source has been noted to increase immunoglobulin-A – a powerful immunity booster necessary for new borns to keep them protected from common health threats. This is essential for the first few months of life especially because your child has yet to receive any boosters or vaccinations.
What’s more, the nutrients and vitamins in salmon are easily and readily absorbed by the body. This is why just after a few minutes of eating a serving, mothers can expect their milk to be packed with vital nutrients for optimal baby development and growth.
Carrots – There are very few vegetables that cause gassiness in infants when taken in the form of breast milk. Often, you’ll hear experts and specialist suggesting that mothers steer clear of green leafy vegetables while lactating.
This is mainly due to the fact that green leafy vegetables can cause gassiness, fussiness, and stomach irritation in babies. But because most vegetables come in this form, it can be hard for mothers to find the right options to supplement their diet.
So if you think you’ve run out of options and you don’t have any other vegetables to incorporate into your diet, consider taking in more carrots instead. Aside from helping with breast milk production, this vegetable has been proven to be beneficial for many other reasons as well.
This orange root vegetable is a prime source of beta-carotene which is an essential chemical in the production of milk. This helps to increase milk output, ideal for mums with low production. Even simply snacking on raw carrots will help increase supply for a steady and sufficient flow of breast milk.
Another benefit of eating carrots during breastfeeding is the fact that it’s easily absorbed into breast milk. This can be proven by the fact that diets with more carrots give milk a slight orange tinge that can be observed during expression.
Based on studies conducted on mothers who took in more carrots, babies who consumed their milk were observed to develop yellowish skin tone which is a harmless and reversible side-effect of the increased carrot consumption.
While this may alarm some mothers, it only goes to prove that carrots are readily transported through the milk. Aside from the color however, carrots also affect the flavor of the breast milk produced, which can be beneficial when weaning babies and introducing solid foods.
The findings of the same research showed that the babies who had more carrot-infused breast milk were more accepting of solid foods such as carrots and other vegetables. This is ideal for mums who want to easily get their children accustomed to solids without starting them off too early.
Breastfeeding is not easy
Breastfeeding is a major challenge for any mother – new or otherwise. But often, the troubles any lactating mother faces during the process of breastfeeding can be addressed with nothing more than an adjusted diet.
Make sure to give your baby nothing but nutritious, healthy, and beneficial breast milk for optimum growth and development. Keep these 5 essential foods for lactating mothers in mind and improve your milk supply and quality with an optimized diet perfect for you and your baby’s needs.