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The Pregnancy Diet for Breastfeeding

Updated on October 25, 2012

Right after having a baby, mom might be thinking about getting her body back. Experts recommend that new moms wait at least six weeks after birth before undertaking any type of fitness or weight loss endeavors. The diet plan for breastfeeding is not that different than the pregnancy diet plan. There are several important guidelines to follow when pregnant, to ensure that the baby and the mom get the proper nutrients in order to be strong and healthy. Moms who are nursing still need the same type of nutrition as moms who are pregnant, because what they're eating still goes directly to their baby.

A pregnancy diet includes eating many diverse sources of iron, folate, protein, and calcium, and typically involves eating about 300 calories per day more than when not pregnant. Once a woman is breastfeeding, there may even more things to pay attention to than when pregnant. First of all, it is not the time to cut calories. On the contrary, the pregnancy diet plan for breastfeeding recommends an additional 400 calories per day than when not pregnant. Some things to pay attention to, besides just calories, are:

  • Baby's behavior can change depending on baby's tolerance for certain foods. Some mothers notice baby being fussy after mom eats diary and then breastfeeds. This might change if mom switches to goat products instead of cow products. Other mommy foods that might make baby fussy are spicy foods and/or vegetables that produce gas.
  • Alcohol should still be avoided when mom is breastfeeding. The alcohol makes its way into the breast milk rather quickly, and baby's little system can't really process it. Obviously most moms are excited about the prospect of being able to have a drink once they're not pregnant anymore-and that's okay. Alcohol consumption should be limited to right after breastfeeding, and mom should not breastfeed for at least two hours after alcohol consumption.
  • Limit caffeine like coffee, tea, sodas and energy drinks. Like alcohol, caffeine gets into the milk. Mom might notice the baby being fussy, jittery and irritable if there is too much caffeine in her diet.
  • Juice it up with fruit juice, milk or water. These drinks are all good sources of hydration. Provided that baby is tolerant to milk, any of these would make a smart substitute for caffeinated beverages. It's important to stay hydrated while breastfeeding, and mom should drink a glass of liquid at least as often as she nurses.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes. Smoking interferes with milk flow, and secondhand smoke is bad for the baby in so many ways.
  • Take your vitamins every day. There are vitamins that are specially formulated for breastfeeding, but prenatal vitamins have the nutrients necessary for breastfeeding mom, too. New moms need plenty of zinc, calcium, and iron.

It is unlikely that breastfeeding moms will lose weight, as the woman's body tends to hold onto fat until she's done nursing. However, with a properly nutritious diet and easing back into an exercise routine that involves walking with baby, mom can safely lose about ½ pound per week.


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