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What to eat and drink during breastfeeding

By Cynthia Loring, MS, RNC, CLC

What to eat and drink during breastfeeding

Breastfeeding moms often have questions about what to eat and drink during breastfeeding and how it could affect their babies. It’s natural to be concerned, but no need to panic!

Do you know what to eat and drink during breastfeeding? Mother Nature designed the female body to make producing breastmilk a high priority! It’s fairly easy to make sure your breastmilk is safe and nutritious for your baby. All you really need is a healthy diet to maintain your own health and energy and meet the nutritional needs of your baby’s 1st year.

What should I eat? And how much?

Aim for a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of proteins (think lean meats, nuts, eggs, dairy, beans, soy), vegetables (especially dark leafy greens and yellow and orange veggies), fruit (dried fruits and juice are good, but whole fruits are best), and whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta, oatmeal and brown rice.

As a breastfeeding mom, you need about 500 more calories per day. If you still have extra pregnancy weight, you may not need the additional calories until your weight returns to normal; ask your nurse if you’re not sure.

What should I drink?

Drinking extra fluids don’t increase your milk supply, but you should stay hydrated. Skip sugary soft drinks and reach for milk and water when you’re thirsty, and keep a drink nearby when you breastfeed. Coffee and tea are OK, but

caffeinated drinks are best in moderation. Most babies aren’t sensitive to caffeine, but it can cause sleeping problems or fussiness for some.

If you drink alcohol, wait 2-3 hours after 1 serving (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of liquor) before breastfeeding or pumping. Alcohol doesn’t stay in your breastmilk; it’s removed as your blood alcohol level goes down. When you’re sober, your breastmilk is free from alcohol. If you need to pump while alcohol is still in your system, discard that milk after pumping (though “pumping and dumping” will not speed up .

Do I need to give up certain foods?

The old saying is that baby eats what you eat—but most babies tolerate the spicy or gas-producing foods that you enjoy!

If you notice that your baby is gassy, fussy or having looser stools after you eat a certain food, try avoiding that it for 1-2 weeks to see if the symptoms go away.

However, check for other causes before blaming it on what you ate.

Keep in mind that while baby might be sensitive to a food at a point in time, you may still re-introduce that food again later—baby’s

little digestive system will mature gradually during the 1st year of life.

Could my baby have allergies?

It’s rare for your baby to have true allergies to the foods you’re eating. Dairy, soy, wheat, egg whites, tree nuts, and fish are foods that are known to cause allergies.

Symptoms of allergic reaction are skin rashes, mucousy or bloody stools and breathing changes.

 

Since 2008, there has been a lot more research on the subject of allergies in the 1st year of life. Studies are showing that babies exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months actually have fewer allergies, regardless of the mother’s diet. Don’t restrict your diet to try to prevent allergies, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

If you or your partner has a history of food allergies, though, it would be wise to eat those foods in small amounts since larger amounts can be more likely to cause allergic reactions.


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Cynthia Loring, MS, RNC, CLC, is an expert advisor to Healthy Mom&Baby.


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