Best Foods to Eat While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Superfoods – The Best Foods to Eat While Breastfeeding

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I think it’s obvious that a baby’s nutrition goes well beyond the womb, but the best foods to eat while breastfeeding are fairly similar to pregnancy superfoods for both you and baby. It is best to focus on nutrition dense foods that will not only give you energy and keep up your milk supply, but foods that offer the most nutrition for your baby as well. So, what are these nutritious breastfeeding superfoods? First, let’s talk about the basics of breastfeeding nutrition.

Do I need extra calories for breastfeeding?

Yes. You can look at breastfeeding a lot like pregnancy. You are still growing another human with your body, even though they are no longer in the womb. Aim for an extra 300-400 calories to make up for the energy needed to produce milk. It is fairly easy to get these extra calories by simply adding another snack into your diet, and adding extra fruit and veggies to every meal. Also, breastfeeding makes you HUNGRY, so you will want to try to eat a balanced meal or snack at least every few hours.

How much water should I drink while breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding also makes you VERY thirsty! I mean, think about it. Breastmilk is a liquid leaving your body, so you want to replenish it often. Just like in pregnancy, you want to drink as much water as possible. It’s helpful to always have a water bottle like this one with you. You’re going to want it every time you breastfeed. Doctors recommend 128 oz. of water everyday for breastfeeding, but every body is different. At least aim for 100 oz. per day give or take, and always drink when you’re thirsty.

Things to avoid while breastfeeding.

Things to avoid while breastfeeding are also very similar to this list of what to avoid while pregnant, with a few exceptions. Like, it isn’t necessary to abstain from alcohol entirely while breastfeeding. But, you definitely want to drink in moderation, which is only about 1 standard drink per day. Also, make sure you wait at least 2 hours after consuming a drink to breastfeed your baby. If you are concerned, there are alcohol detection strips for breastfeeding that ensure it is safe to breastfeed after drinking.

Caffeine intake is also something to monitor while breastfeeding. According La Leche League International, up to 200-300 mg of caffeine (or about 2-3 cups of coffee) is considered safe to consume while breastfeeding.

Just keep in mind, that everything you eat, drink, and put on your body, will most likely reach your baby through your breastmilk. If you are worried about any supplements, foods, drinks, or skincare products, always ask your doctor before using them while breastfeeding. Also, as you get used to breastfeeding you will notice how different foods affect your baby. They may get very fussy after certain foods. Avoid those foods and always bring it up with your pediatrician.

So, what are the best foods to eat while breastfeeding?

  1. Water – For the reasons listed above, make sure to aim for about 100 oz. of water everyday.
  2. Oats – Oats are known to be a natural way to increase and maintain your breastmilk supply. I’m partial to Better Oats, because they also have flax in them. Flax is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and phytoestrogens that *may help increase breastmilk supply. I love to eat my oats like THIS.
  3. Broccoli and Dark Leafy Greens – Greens like broccoli, spinach, arugula, and kale are extremely dense in vitamins and nutrients. They ensure you are getting enough iron, vitamins C, A, E, K, calcium, and fiber. Leafy greens are an amazing way to get nutrients for you and baby.
  4. Whole Eggs – Eggs are amazing! Eggs are a great (and EASY) source of protein. And, they are a complete protein that include every amino acid needed for you and baby to thrive. They are rich in folate, vitamin D, iodine, selenium, choline and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) are essential for vision and brain development in your baby.
  5. Salmon – Salmon is a powerhouse of nutrients for breastfeeding moms. The fatty fish is chock full of vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids, both known to help ward off postpartum depression. It is extremely high in protein, and it contains both DHA and EPA. Both of these important fats are necessary for baby’s immune system, brain, vision, and nervous system development. Salmon may also make breastmilk fattier and more beneficial to baby’s growth. One to two servings of salmon per week is sufficient, and will avoid too much mercury in your breastfeeding diet.
  6. Avocado – FAT! The amazing fat in avocado is once again crucial for baby’s brain and nervous system development. Avocados are very high in potassium, water soluble vitamins C and B1, and fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K. The healthy fats in Avocado help both mom and baby absorb those fat-soluble vitamins. Avocado is also a great source of fiber to help new moms regain digestive regularity.
  7. Lean Meats – According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, breastfeeding moms need at least 65 g of protein per day. Lean meats like beef, fish, chicken, and turkey are the best sources of protein, but beans, nuts, lentils and seeds are also great. During lactation, your body uses protein to create your breastmilk supply and to sustain you and your growing baby. It helps your baby grow new cells in his organs, muscles and brain. Aim for 20-30 g of protein per meal.
  8. Chia Seeds – Once again, omega fatty acids steal the show! These tiny seeds an incredible source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids which aid in baby’s brain development and keep mama healthy too. Chia seeds boost energy and endurance, and they are high in protein to keep you full and keep baby growing. Chia seeds are also rich in Magnesium which helps relieve cramps and promotes a sense of calm. They are rich in Iron and Calcium which are essential to baby’s growth and development. In fact, Chia Seeds contain 5 times more Calcium than milk! Chia seeds are easy to find at most markets, and Costco, but I use THESE.
  9. Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes and yams have been known to promote breastmilk production for centuries. They are a considered a galactagogue, which is a substance that boosts milk supply. Sweet potatoes are extremely high in potassium and vitamin A. Just one sweet potato provides an entire day’s worth of Vitamin A, which is crucial in healthy development. Babies are born with low stores of Vitamin A and rely on mom to give them what they need.
  10. Mushrooms – Mushrooms are also known to be a galactagogue which increases milk supply. They are rich in the polysaccharide beta-glucan, which is believed to be the nutrient that makes oats and barley boost milk supply. They are also a great source of riboflavin. Riboflavin deficiency can result in outcomes like poor growth and impaired iron absorption in infants. Mushrooms also contain B vitamins and vitamin D. So, eat those shrooms!
  11. Apricots – I found apricots on many breastfeeding superfoods lists. Eating apricots and dates can increase prolactin, which is the hormone that tells your body to produce milk. Like flax seeds, apricots boost phytoestrogens, which may increase milk supply. Apricots contain many essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. Fresh apricots are best, but dried apricots are good, too.
  12. Almonds and Walnuts– Nuts made yet another superfoods list! Nuts are little nutritional powerhouses. They contain protein, lots of healthy fats, and they are high is essential minerals. Nuts, especially almonds, are considered lactogenic. Nuts make a great snack on their own, with a piece of fruit, or on top of yogurt or icecream!
  13. Whole Grains – Whole grains are another food that boosts your milk supply. Grains like whole wheat bread, quinoa, brown rice, whole grain cereal, farro and barley are full of fiber to help ease postpartum constipation. They are also full of B vitamins and minerals that are necessary for nutrient dense breastmilk. Quinoa is a double-duty whole grain with double the benefits! This whole grain is also a perfect protein that contains all of the essential amino acids typically only found in meat. Quinoa is also naturally gluten-free and provides iron, calcium, B vitamins, manganese, magnesium, copper and fiber.
  14. Full Fat Yogurt – Calcium and protein are both extremely important while breastfeeding, and greek yogurt or skyr is an amazing source for both. During lactation, women need to increase their protein intake to maintain adequate muscle mass, stay full, and have energy. And, breastfeeding pulls directly from your calcium reserves, which you need later in life to keep your bones healthy and strong. Always make sure you get enough calcium while breastfeeding! Unless your baby has been diagnosed with a dairy intolerance, yogurt is amazing for breastfeeding.
  15. Legumes – Beans and legumes are chock full of protein and fiber for breastfeeding moms. Eating a variety of legumes is ideal for their nutritional properties, but most beans are phytoestrogens on some level. Those phytoestrogens will help boost milk supply. Garbanzo beans and soy beans both have the highest amount of phytoestrogens. Love beans in general, but this legume PASTA is also a fun way to get your beans!

Along with the breastfeeding superfoods above, most doctors recommend staying on a good prenatal or postnatal vitamin until you are done breastfeeding to ensure you and baby are getting proper nutrition.

What are some other foods you found helpful while breastfeeding? Let me know in the comments below.

Also, check out the Breastfeeding Meal Plan here!

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