Balanced nutrition & hydration for breastfeeding moms

Every mom wants to give her baby the best start in life and breastfeeding is one way of doing that. A mother’s body produces the perfect life potion; a balanced and nutritious meal with all the macro- and micronutrients infants need for optimal growth and development. That is why the postpartum maternal diet is of vital importance to a newborn’s well-being.

The question I get asked the most in my practice by expectant moms is: What do I need to do to have an ample supply of high quality milk? And the answer is simple: The more often and effectively your baby nurses, the more milk you will produce. It goes without saying that adequate nutritional intake and hydration during the breastfeeding months will improve the mother’s health and a healthy body will make healthy milk.

“Nursing mothers often feel like their energy reserves are at an all-time low.”

The general nutrition advice is to eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, avoid all processed and junk food and try to stay away from refined sugar and empty calories. Counting calories or eating for two is rarely necessary unless you are below the recommended weight, in which case you need to seek advice from a professional trained in pregnancy and maternity dietary management.

Nursing mothers often feel like their energy reserves are at an all-time low. That may be due not only to the lack of sleep, overwhelming emotions and hormonal changes, but also to the depletion in nutrients. The nutrients in breast milk come from the nutrient reserves in the mother’s body; these nutrients are extracted and absorbed from the food she consumes and not directly from the food itself. As the lactogenic process continues, those reserves need to be replenished and the easiest way to do that is to have a well-balanced and varied diet, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, some complex carbohydrates, fatty fish and moderate amounts of lean animal protein.

If you’re worried about the fat content of your milk, please remember that while the amount of fat you consume will not affect the amount of fat in your milk, the kinds of fat you consume might affect the kinds of fat in your milk. So be sure to stay away from trans fats in fried foods and factory-made baked good and fill up on good fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and nut butters, avocado and omega 3 rich oily fish.

While, oily fish is fantastic for providing omega-3 fats, which are essential for a baby’s brain development, aim for no more than two portions of oily fish (such as mackerel, salmon and sardines) per week while breastfeeding. While staying hydrated is important at any stage of your life, forcing yourself to drink excessive amounts of liquids will not lead to higher milk production. Drink to quench your thirst.

Disclaimer: BabyYumYum reserves the right to its opinions and fully supports the promotion that breast is best in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) infant feeding guidelines http://www.who.int/topics/infant_nutrition/en/. Breast milk is the best food for infants. Good maternal nutrition is essential to prepare and maintain breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not applied, an infant formula may be used according to the advice of healthcare professionals. Preparation and storage of any infant formula should be performed as directed on the tin in order not to pose any health hazards.

Also read:

Q&A: A healthy diet for breastfeeding
Important nutrients during breastfeeding