Nursing Nutrition for New Mommas
Everyone knows how good breast milk is for babies, especially newborns. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it takes a lot of energy and nutrients to create breast milk and that all comes from the mother’s body. Just because you’ve given birth, doesn’t mean you’re done ‘eating for two,’ so read on for important nursing nutrition tips!
Your body will burn around 300 to 500 extra calories a day while you’re nursing. The amount depends on if you’re exclusively breastfeeding or not. This means it’s very important to choose nourishing, nutrient-dense food to support your breast milk production. And eating healthy makes you feel better too!
What’s in Breast Milk?
Except for Vitamin D, breast milk is full of everything your baby needs to develop properly for the first six months. But if your diet is not providing the nutrients you need then it will affect both the quality of your breast milk and your own health.
Breast milk is 87% water, 3.8% fat, 1% protein and 7% carbohydrates and provides 60 to 75 kcal/100ml. The composition and calorie content will change for each feeding based on the needs of your baby. It’s pretty amazing!
Breastfeeding Diet Basics
When you’re breastfeeding your need for specific nutrients increases. Your body will need more vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, B12, selenium, zinc and protein. That’s why you need to focus on eating nutrient dense foods such as:
- Fish and seafood: salmon, seaweed, sardines, shellfish
- Fruits and vegetables: berries, tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, kale, garlic, broccoli
- Meat and poultry: beef, chicken, pork, lamb, organ meats (such as liver)
- Healthy fats: avocados, coconut, eggs, full-fat yogurt, olive oil
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds
- Fiber-rich starches: potatoes, butternut squash, beans, lentils, oats, quinoa, buckwheat
- Other foods: dark chocolate, kimchi, sauerkraut, tofu
When it comes down to it, you should be eating fresh and avoiding processed foods.
What’s Best for Baby & What’s Best for You
But wait, there’s more! The nutrients that find their way into breast milk come from two different groups. If you’re low on group one nutrients, they won’t easily secrete into your breast milk. That’s why supplementing these nutrients can help boost their concentration in your breast milk and improve the health of your baby.
For group two nutrients, supplementing doesn’t add to what the baby gets, but does replenish the mother’s stores. In other words, group one nutrients are important for you and your baby while group two nutrients are important for just you. The nutrients and sources in both groups are:
- Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, organ meats, eggs
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): fish, pork, seeds, nuts, beans
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): cheese, almonds, nuts, red meat, oily fish, eggs
- Vitamin B6: chickpeas, nuts, fish, poultry, potatoes, bananas, dried fruit
- Vitamin B12: shellfish, liver, yogurt, oily fish, nutritional yeast, eggs, crab, shrimp
- Choline: eggs, beef liver, chicken liver, fish, peanuts
- Vitamin D: cod liver oil, oily fish, some mushrooms, fortified foods
- Iodine: dried seaweed, cod, milk, iodized salt
- Selenium: Brazil nuts, seafood, turkey, whole wheat, seeds
- Calcium: milk, yogurt, cheese, leafy greens, legumes
- Copper: shellfish, whole grains, nuts, beans, organ meats, potatoes
- Folate: beans, lentils, leafy greens, asparagus, avocados
- Iron: red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, green vegetables, dried fruit
- Zinc: oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, dairy
Again, the concentrations in group two are basically unaffected by your diet or body stores. So, if you’re not getting enough of these, your body will take these nutrients from your bones and tissue to keep the amounts up in your breast milk. Your baby will get enough but you need to make sure you’re getting enough through your diet or supplements.
Supplements for Breastfeeding
Healthy eating is the most important aspect of a good breastfeeding diet, but taking the right supplements can help too. It’s important to replenish your stores of vitamins and minerals and some people just use a regular multivitamin but there are options available that are specifically designed for breastfeeding mothers, such as Prenatal Ease Nursing. These can be the better option because some supplements may contain herbs and other additives that aren’t best for new mothers.
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