What Should Nursing/Breastfeeding Mothers/Moms Eat?
Many nursing mothers wonder what are the best foods to eat in order to give their nursing baby the best nutrition possible. The possibilities of nutrition are not as limited as many new mothers might think. The key is to test out different types of foods and your baby's reactions after nursing. Some babies get gassy or get an upset stomach due to certain foods that the nursing mother chooses to eat...so one must simply experiment and record what foods seem to be a bother on the baby's stomach. I found while I was nursing that certain leafy veggies were a definite gas trigger on my daughter's tummy...including spinach, romaine lettuce, and broccolli. As much as I love broccolli and spinach, I gave up eating these vegetables while I was breastfeeding to avoid any possible nights lying awake until 3 am with a crying, gassy baby.
The most important part of a healthy nursing diet can be broken down into three things: eating three full meals a day, eating healthy snacks in between meals, and drinking at least eight glasses of water a day. It is pertinent that you keep your body hydrated...to have a healthy milk production, your body needs to be taking in water in order to produce milk for the baby. The snacks are important because they give you the extra fuel your body needs in between meal times to produce, as well.
Fruits & Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are a definite must during nursing...for the obvious reasons, vitamins and nutrients. These vegetables and fruits are not only beneficial to your health, but they are highly essential for your nursing baby's health and development.
Blueberries and prunes are both very high in antioxidants and should be on your menu for two servings a day. The carbs within the berries and prunes are also essential to keep your energy levels up...so that you do not feel drained by the end of the day. Oranges and tangerines are other wonderful choices of fruit for nursing mommies. These citrus fruits are very high in Vitamin C, which is necessary to keep your immune system boosted and will contribute to the developing immune system of your baby. The baby's immune system needs all of the nutrients it can get, so even if you cannot eat an orange every day maybe at least drink a glass of orange juice or pop some vitamin C pills. Cantaloupe is another wonderful fruit to add to your nursing diet...have it as a snack between meals or even with your breakfast.
As far as vegetables go, the more...the merrier! Although many nursing mothers tend to stay away from broccolli and leafy greens, you can always give them a try before ruling them out. Some babies do not necessarily get gassy from these veggies...so it just depends on your baby. If your baby does seem to have a negative reaction after you have nursed (after eating broccolli or leafy greens), maybe try other vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower and green beans. All of these vegetables are high in vitamins and give you that added fiber that is needed during breastfeeding.
Meats & Beans
According to the UCSF Benioff Children's Organization, nursing mothers should be taking in 3 to 4 ounces of protein every day. The best way to acquire this protein is through meats and legumes.
The best types of meats to take into your body are lean beefs (sirloin cuts or london broils), salmon, and boneless chicken breast. There are many delicious and easy recipes to be found at marthastewart.com if you would like to shake up your routine a little bit. I recommend the grilled tomato and basil stuffed chicken breasts. We usually make a carb, such as a potato or rice, and a serving of a vegetable such as asparagas or squash as the sides. This dinner is delicious and very nutritious for the nursing mommy and baby. Be careful when it comes to seafood that you are eating, as certain large predator fish tend to have higher levels of mercury that could aid in the decrease of mental development in your baby. The types of seafood to steer clear of are swordfish, shark, and king mackerel.
As for the legumes, black beans are a wonderful option. Mix some onions and garlic into a can of black beans and pour this mixture over a batch of white rice and you have a delicious lunch...high in protein and a bit of carbohydrates for that added afternoon energy!
Contrary to the old wives' tale, "if you drink a lot of milk, your body will produce more milk" this belief is untrue. While your intake of dairy products is important for your health and your baby's health, it is not a factor of increasing your milk production.
Breastfeeding mothers should be sure to include dairy products in their daily diet. Choose lower fat dairy products, such as Light n' Fit yogurt or low fat cottage cheese. Low fat milk is healthy to drink once a day. If your baby seems to have an adverse reaction after your dairy intake, lower your consumption levels as it has been proven that certain babies can develop allergies to dairy...such as lactose intolerance.
Big No-no's of Breastfeeding
Number one breastfeeding no-no: Drinking and Drugs. You have to realize that whatever you take into your body, your baby will be taking into his or her body through your milk. Now, doctors do say that it is safe to have a small amount of alcohol, such as one glass of wine or a beer but do not over-do it by drinking hard liquor of any kind or having more than six ounces in a sitting. Your body has the innate ability to filter out what small amount of alcohol you take in with one drink, but anything over that amount could end up in your milk and then in your baby's body. A baby's brain is a fragile thing and needs to have nutrition only in order to develop properly...alcohol would obviously not be healthy for a baby's brain development.
As far as drugs, you should never do any sort of narcotic before nursing your child. I should not even have to explain why. If you need to be on prescription drugs, make sure you tell your doctor that you are nursing and he will be sure to give you a prescription that is safe to take while nursing. You should even be careful to tell your ob/gyn so that they can prescribe the correct kind of birth control to you.
Another no no of nursing is taking in too much caffeine, such as coffee or soda or energy drinks. Caffeine, just like alcohol, can pass into your breast milk and then enter the baby's system. Caffeine present in breastmilk has proven to cause nursing babies to be fussier than normal...as it may increase the presence of gas in their tummies. Be sure to limit your caffeine intake...have a cup of coffee in the morning if you must, but do not go overboard and have five red bulls in a day!
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