Nursing is a personal and often controversial decision to make. Many factors affect a woman’s choice to breastfeed, but if you do choose to do it, keep in mind that what you put in your mouth can impact your baby’s health as well. Here are some tips to help you eat well, stay hydrated and produce quality milk for your little one.
1. Drink plenty of fluids. Most women should be aiming for 10 cups of water per day. This is especially important for milk production.
2. In The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child from Birth Through Weaning, Martha and William Sears, M.D. recommend the following 12 foods as part of a healthy breastfeeding diet: avocado, chickpeas, eggs, fish, flax seeds and flax oil, kidney beans, lentils, sweet potatoes, tofu, tomatoes, whole grains and yogurt. Each of these foods contains important nutrients such as protein, folic acid, fiber and other essential vitamins.
3. Do not DIET! This is not the time to start a weight loss program. Producing milk and nursing take a lot of energy, so you should actually be taking in about 500 extra calories a day. The best thing for you and your baby is not to cut calories, but to exercise and be patient. Some bodies and metabolisms really do need 9 months to get rid of the baby weight. Many women find that nursing helps them get back in to their pre-pregnancy clothes faster.
4. Choose organic. Whenever possible, try and eat organic foods. Pesticides and immune-system-suppressing chemicals can get into breast milk and can even impact your ability to produce breast milk.
5. Supplement! Continue taking your prenatal vitamin. You should also be taking vitamin D3 and giving it your newborn, as well. A nursing baby isn’t able to get vitamin D, so placing a drop of liquid vitamin D on your nipple before baby latches will ensure that he or she will get this important nutrient.
Breastfeeding can be a tough skill to master, but if you are patient and willing, it can be not only a convenient and healthy way to feed your baby, but a bonding experience between the two of you, as well.