What nutrition tips do I need to know about breast-feeding?
- You are not really eating for two – an additional 400 to 500 calories a day should be plenty.
- Choose from nutrient-rich foods such as whole-grain bread and peanut butter (or almond butter), banana, yogurt, cheese or a smoothie with nutrients in it.
- Help milk production with such foods as meat, eggs, dairy, beans and lentils. Also eat a variety of whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
- By eating a variety of food, you will change the flavor of your breast milk.
- Your OB/GYN may want you to continue with prenatal vitamins while you breast-feed to ensure that you and your baby are receiving the necessary vitamins.
- Hydrate often. Try drinking water before or while you are breast-feeding and also throughout the day.
- Do not drink much juice or sugary drinks.
- Limit caffeine as well; two to three cups of a caffeine drink each day is plenty. Caffeine in breast milk could make your baby a little jittery and interfere with your baby’s sleep.
What if I am a vegetarian?
There is no reason why you can’t breast-feed and continue with a vegetarian diet. Just consider the following:
- You want plenty of food rich in iron, protein and calcium.
- Iron: lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, peas, dark leafy greens, dried fruit. Also include citrus to help your body absorb the iron.
- Protein: eggs, dairy, soy, meat substitutes, nuts, seeds and whole-grains.
- Calcium: dairy products, dark green vegetables, soy milk, soy yogurt and tofu.
- Supplements: Your OB/GYN may suggest a vitamin B-12 supplement that is essential for your baby’s brain development. You may also need vitamin D supplement.
Is there anything that I should avoid while breast-feeding?
- Any amount of alcohol in breast milk is unsafe for your baby. So if you have alcohol, you should wait to breast-feed until the alcohol is completely out of your system – this usually is within a few hours. Your OB/GYN or a lactation specialist can help you to know how long that might be based on your weight and amount of alcohol.
- Limit caffeine to two to three cups daily.
- While fish is a good source of protein, it also contains mercury and other things that are not good for your breast milk or your baby. Avoid seafood high in mercury: swordfish, mackerel and tilefish.
Some things that you consume may cause a reaction in your baby – fussing, rash, diarrhea or congestion. If this happens, contact your pediatrician. You might want to keep a food diary to help you discover if there are links between what you eat and your baby’s behavior.