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What Is The Ideal Diet For A Breastfeeding Mother?

Learn all you need to know about the best diet for a breastfeeding mother, the kind of foods you need to avoid, and some other great nutrition tips.

[Learn all you need to know about the best diet for a breastfeeding mother, the kind of foods you need to avoid and some other great nutrition tips.]

As a breastfeeding mom, you need to know which nutrients to consume that promote the healthy growth of your little one and also help your post-partum body recover well. When I was breastfeeding, I was constantly ravenous.

Thankfully, as I was staying with my parents, a steady stream of healthy and nutritious food made its way to me.

My diet also included certain food items to boost milk production. Here, we will discuss what’s an ideal diet for a breastfeeding mom to meet all her nutrition needs.

The things to keep in mind while planning a diet for a breastfeeding mother

A lactating mother’s body is already weak post-delivery and needs a nutrient-rich diet to provide adequate nutrition to her little one. As a new mom, I had numerous questions about the diet I had to follow while breastfeeding, as I knew that everything, I ate would eventually affect my baby.

Also, the constant anxiety about whether I was getting enough milk to satiate my baby’s hunger was another cause of concern. But by paying attention to certain aspects of my diet, I could ride smoothly through the entire breastfeeding phase. I have shared some of them below:

  • A lactating mother does need more calories than a non-lactating woman. An additional 400 to 500 calories in your diet will give you the energy and nutrition to produce milk.
  • Some foods are known to increase gas and colic in a few infants. However, no hard and fast rule works for all. Each baby may react differently to certain kinds of food. If your baby is particularly fussy on one day, evaluate if you ate anything new, then see if your baby feels better when you leave that particular food out.
  • It can be tempting to cut on calories to shed all those extra kilos. But dieting may reduce the quality and quantity of your milk. To lose your pregnancy weight, steer clear of high-fat and sugary foods. Incorporate light exercises or brisk walking to lose weight faster.
  • As the baby can taste different flavours of breast milk, consuming various foods will help the baby appreciate a variety of tastes.
  • Milk production boost foods, also known as galactagogues, improve lactation in nursing mothers. Herbs such as methi seeds, jeera, dill and other preparations like methi ladoos, gond ladoos, badam halwa etc., are recommended to increase milk supply.

Components of the diet for breastfeeding mothers

  • Energy

Did you know that breastfeeding can burn nearly 500 calories per day? Hence, you need a diet that can compensate for those lost calories and help in producing sufficient milk for the rapidly growing baby.

You can find these calories in nutrient-rich foods rather than those high in sugar. Food like smoothies, dry fruits, barley, sweet potato, yam etc., are fantastic energy-giving foods post-pregnancy.

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  • Protein

The protein in your breast milk has the perfect amino acid profile suitable for growth and is easily digestible by a baby. During breastfeeding, if your diet lacks protein, it may result in a more extended recovery period.

This will hamper your milk supply and will not allow you to establish a stable nursing routine. The diet of a breastfeeding mother should include a minimum of 4 protein-dense servings daily like nuts, lentils, tofu, legumes, egg, fish and meat.

  •  Fats – absorbers and insulators

The composition of fat in your milk depends mainly on the diet you consume. After consuming any fat, within a couple of hours, it will become the primary fat in your milk. Hence, you must take care of the kind of fats you eat.

Essential fatty acids(EFA) or healthy fats found in foods like nuts, avocados, olives, fish, etc., must be a necessary part of the diet of a breastfeeding mother. EFA’s aid in brain development and help boost memory in children. The EFA’s present in your breastmilk will significantly benefit your baby.

  • Water

There were times when I would experience intense thirst the moment my baby would latch on. So, I always had a bottle of water next to me before I started breastfeeding.

I followed a general thumb rule of drinking a glass of water or liquids like buttermilk or coconut water after each feeding session. Having at least 10 to 12 glasses of water a day is recommended.

 It’s best not to drink sugary drinks or sodas, as it would ruin your efforts to shed pregnancy weight. Keep caffeine consumption the same; restrict it to 2 to 3 cups daily. Caffeine in breast milk can make a baby agitated or disturb your baby’s sleep.

Alcohol also should be strictly avoided as any traces of alcohol in breast milk can adversely affect a baby.

What does an ideal diet for a breastfeeding mother look like

  • Morning Snack: 1 cup of tea with sugar as you like, 7 to 8 almonds and 4-5 dates.
  • Breakfast: 1 glass skimmed milk with ½ cup badam sheera or one fruit with poha/upma/paratha/ idli/ uttapam/chilla/ sprouts/ toast with eggs etc.
  • Mid-morning snack- 1 fruit and a methi ladoo or any fruit/vegetable juice.
  • Lunch:  1 cup salad, plus two rotis, rice, dal, yoghurt, sabzi and fish curry if non-veg
  • Tea time: 1 glass skimmed milk and a gond ladoo
  • Mid-evening meal: 1 cup of tea with sprout bhel or a bowl of upma.
  • Dinner: 1 cup salad, two rotis, rice, a serving of green leafy vegetables and a portion of dal.

Fruits can be any seasonal fruit like apples, pears, oranges, or melon, and salads can include cucumber, carrot, tomato, cabbage, lettuce etc.

Takeaway

Ensure that you eat fresh, seasonal and local produce and avoid packaged or processed food. You can include everything in your diet, including sweets and fried foods, as long as you eat them in moderation.

Every mom does what is best for her and her baby and will make changes according to what suits them the best.

The above meal plan is a general outline of what the diet of a breastfeeding mother in India should be. However, it’s best to consult with your doctor or dietician before following this plan.

Image Source: KateSept_2004, via Getty Images, Free On CanvaPro

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At Women's Web we try to bring you information on Fitness & Wellness topics of interest to you. This is not, however diagnostic or prescriptive information, so please do consult your doctor or therapist before using any of it.

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About the Author

Anjali Paul

I am a mom who works from home and dabbles with writing when time permits.An avid reader since childhood, blogging and writing helps me de-stress.My five year old keeps me on my read more...

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