You just gave birth to a cute little one and now you want to provide the best nutrition to your baby.
You are aware of the wide ranging benefits associated with breastfeeding and thus you decide to feed that tiny little being through your body (coz mama wants THE BEST for her baby).
And then you question yourself –
- Whether I should be on special diet for breastfeeding?
- Whether there are any foods to avoid while breastfeeding my baby?
- How much should I eat ?
- What foods will upset stomach of my little one or make him gassy?
IF THIS IS YOU, YOU HAVE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE MAMA !
When I started my breastfeeding journey , I was also in the same situation as you are. I wasnt sure what to eat or avoid. To add to the above confusing questions, were the unsolicited advice available to me right from my grandmother to the next door aunties all the time. Some were of the opinion that nursing mothers should not eat spicy food while others asked me to eat lots of ghee , butter, panjeeri ( a dish made from lots of ghee, wheat and sugar). I have even seen some mothers being refrained from eating wheat ( their staple food), just because they received some advice from their near and dear ones.
Obviously I was not ready to heed to any such advises and decided to find out myself what I could have and what not while breastfeeding. So today, in this blog post I am going to share with you what foods to eat and avoid while breastfeeding.
WHAT CAN I EAT???
You would be surprised to know that as long as you continue eating healthy foods there is nothing to avoid completely in your diet. You can continue enjoying foods that you were having before pregnancy. However there are certain foods at which you need to keep constant vigil as they may develop allergic reactions to your baby ( discussed later in this post).
Following are some of the recommendations regarding what you can eat.
- Include protein rich foods to your diet such as meat, fish, nuts, seeds, beans and poultry.
- Eat at least 2 servings of fruits and 3 servings of vegetables daily
- If you are following vegetarian diet , make sure to include vitamin B12 , iron and zinc in your diet .
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated. In the initial days, when I had to feed my baby for around 8-12 times a day, I used to feel very thirsty especially while breastfeeding. So, I mandatorily used to drink a glass of water before every feeding session.
HOW MUCH CAN I EAT?
Breastfeeding requires energy and thus its obvious for you to feel more hungrier than your pre-pregnancy days .Initially you would require to feed 8-12 times a day and that’s when your body will need maximum energy . Later when your baby will start having solids, your energy requirements would lower and hence you would require less food to eat.
I know every mom wants to reach her pre-pregnancy weight. But believe me, your first priority is your baby and its important for you to not think about dieting as it can reduce your milk supply.
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Just listen to your body and have food whenever it signals you to do so. Just remember to eat healthy food and you wont require any calorie counter.
FOODS not to eat while Breastfeeding
There are certain food items not to eat while breastfeeding as they can have negative effect on your newborn’s health .
Is coffee your favorite drink? Do you have cravings for the same just as I do? If yes, then you need to read this carefully.
Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee , tea , soft drinks and chocolates and is known to cause irritability and crankiness for your baby as it is difficult for your baby’s yet not fully developed stomach to digest it.
Just like adults, too much of it can cause sleeping problems to your baby and it is the last thing parents want . Moreover, studies have shown that too much caffeine in body leads to difficulty in absorption of iron in blood which reduces hemoglobin levels . So, its better to keep your coffee and tea away for the time you decide to breastfeed.
Worry not , scientists suggest that 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day is well within limits.
2. ALCOHOLIC DRINKS
This is one obvious food to avoid for the time you plan to give breast milk to your baby.
Alcohol, if consumed by mother, can stay for well over 2 to 3 hours in mother’s milk after intake. If passed to baby’s blood , it can lead to neurological problems for your baby.So better to avoid it.
If necessary, nurse your baby prior to drinking and wait for 2-3 hrs before next feed.
There are certain varieties of fish that contain mercury which should be completely avoided. For example shark, king mackerel, tile fish and swordfish.
Mercury can be toxic for your baby and can affect central nervous system which can impair his cognitive abilities.
Peppermint, parsley and sage are three types of herbs that are known to reduce mother’s milk and its better to limit these in your daily diet.
Remember, you don’t have to completely eliminate these herbs. But if you notice any drop in milk supply , its better to avoid it for the time you breastfeed.
5. SPICY FOODS
If you regularly eat spicy food and your baby is perfectly fine, you can continue enjoying it. But in case, you suddenly ate over spicy food and your baby gets fussy or gassy, chances are that your baby is not comfortable with it.
ALLERGY CAUSING FOODS (ALLERGENS)
As discussed before there are certain food items to which babies have shown to develop allergy or gas ( popularly called gassy foods) either because they have some family history or it is because of their body’s metabolism.
You just have to be little cautious while having such foods and watch for reaction of the baby if your little one shows any allergy signs such as rash, diarrhea , colic, bloody or mucous stool, vomiting. Following is the list of such foods.
PS- You don’t need to completely avoid any allergy causing food. You just need to wait for few weeks after which you can try again and check your baby’s reaction. Your little one’s body is developing day by day and it is quite possible that if she shows allergy to a particular food today, she accepts it comfortably few weeks later.
Do you have something you would like to share from your own experience? Wanna ask about a particular food item not discussed above? Do write in the comments section below.
Till then ,
As I always say,
Take care of you and your little baby.