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The New Mother’s Diet

Healthy foods to eat while breastfeeding

By Gwendolyn Zepeda

New mothers hear plenty about what not to eat during pregnancy. But what should they eat? “Breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories per day,” says registered dietitian Louise Goldberg with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, “so a nursing mom might need to add nutritious snacks to fuel her milk supply.”

Eat This

Did you know?

Mothers who exclusively breastfeed can burn up to 500 calories a day, which may help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.

Stay hydrated, and replenish protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids by eating:

  • Salmon and trout
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Milk or a calcium-fortified alternative, cheese, and yogurt
  • Nuts and seeds (such as flax or chia)
  • Beans
  • Dried fruit
  • Avocados
  • Dark green vegetables

 

“The reality of new motherhood is, not every day will include perfectly balanced meals, so continue taking prenatal vitamins,”says Goldberg.

 

Be Aware…

Caffeine may keep you alert, but it can also pass through your milk and affect your baby’s sleep patterns. Limit caffeinated beverages to one cup a day. While research hasn’t so far supported a direct connection, some moms report that eating certain vegetables – particularly broccoli, cauliflower, onions and cabbage – can make nursing babies gassy.

Boozy Breast Milk?

To ensure that any alcohol consumed has had time to metabolize, always wait two to three hours after having a drink before nursing. And what about those rumors that drinking beer or other alcoholic beverages will increase one’s milk supply? “In fact,” says Goldberg, “some research shows consuming just one alcoholic beverage can decrease milk supply.”

Milky Meds

Certain medicines can decrease milk supply or even pass through breast milk and potentially harm your baby. Check with a lactation consultant or your pediatrician for a list of medications approved for use while breastfeeding.

Spice It Up!

The food a woman eats can affect the taste of her milk, but that’s no reason to avoid spices or seasonings. Babies aren’t born with preconceived ideas about what tastes good. The more flavors they sample through breast milk, the more open they’ll be to trying new foods later in life.

NEED MORE INFO? Contact a certified lactation specialist for help with breastfeeding and recommendations on herbs and medications that increase milk supply. You can also visit childrens.memorialhermann.org.