Balanced nutrition for mom and baby
If you are a nursing mother, your diet affects your own health as well as that of your baby. You eat to provide nutrition for yourself and your child. If you don’t fulfill your dietary needs, you may still have a healthy baby, but your own health will suffer.

Breast feeding women have an even higher need for the vitamin B12 than pregnant women. B12 is extremely important in nursing mothers for the formation of red blood cells, among other things. Breast feeding diets should contain iron. Iron stores are depleted during pregnancy, so it is important that you rebuild your iron stores with iron-rich foods. Breast feeding diets should also contain lots of calcium. Calcium is an essential mineral for protection of bone strength. A nursing mother will need about four servings of calcium rich foods per day. Other key nutrients are zinc, vitamins E and B6.

Part of a well-planned breast feeding diet is keeping well hydrated. Breast feeding mothers release a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that causes milk to be “let down” and available for the baby. This hormone makes you thirsty, so keep a drink of water nearby when you breast feed. When it comes to alcohol in your breast feeding diet, the safest option is to avoid alcohol altogether, as alcohol does get passed on to your baby through the breast milk. But if you do want to drink alcohol while breast feeding, do not have more than one or two standard drinks once or twice a week. Also, try to time your drinking accordingly, allowing time for your body to metabolize and clear the alcohol before breast feeding.

Basic principles
In a breast feeding diet, you need to boost your caloric intake. You may decide to try to get down to your pre-pregnancy weight, although its important that you don’t lose the weight too quickly as it could affect the quality of your breast milk.

Here are some guidelines when thinking about a breast feeding diet: 

  1. Increase your water consumption by one quart per day, so that you are drinking a total of 2.5 to 3 quarts. Nursing women tend to be thirstier anyway, especially during feeding sessions, because part of their water consumption goes directly to milk production. But do not overdo it: Too much liquid also can reduce milk production.
  2. Increase your daily caloric intake to 2,500 calories. You can even eat more if you are planning to continue breast feeding for more than three months. While a little junk food is fine, make sure to do it in moderation. Eat more proteins. The basic rule is to eat one gram of protein each day for every pound that you weigh. Spread your caloric intake over five “meals,” breakfast, lunch, after- noon snack, dinner, and an extra snack during the evening. Each snack time is also an opportunity to drink water, eat a low-fat dairy product, and a piece of fruit. As your body is continually producing milk, it needs your caloric intake to be consistent.
  3. Stay away from tobacco. Nicotine passes directly through breast milk to the baby. If you cannot control yourself, build in a gap of at least an hour between your last cigarette and your next feeding session, so that the nicotine in your system has a chance to decompose at least partially. A current recommendation is to smoke right after breast feeding so that there is time to decompose before next feeding.
  4. Avoid regular consumption of alcohol. Alcohol passes through into the milk in less than an hour. If the baby consumes it in large quantities, it can retard his growth. If you must drink an occasional glass of wine or beer, save it for after a feeding session.
  5. Take no medication without first consulting a doctor. Most antibiotics, sulfa drugs, chemical laxatives, and all products containing iodine are contraindicated while you are breast-feeding. Other medications, taken over a long period, can also be dangerous.
  6. Beware of pollutants. Like nicotine, pesticide residue easily passes through mother’s milk. If you are nursing, stay away from insecticides (especially in airborne forms, such as aerosols or coils). Try to use natural insect repellents, such as citronella. Eat primarily unsaturated fats. Sunflower, corn, rapeseed, and olive oil provide fatty acids that are essential for building the baby’s nervous system.
  7. Eat food that contains vitamin B 9 (folic acid). During pregnancy, folic acid is vital to the development of the baby’s nervous system. Nursing mothers are well advised to continue taking their prenatal vitamins. Folic acid also can be found abundantly in asparagus, cabbage, corn, chickpeas, and spinach. Many other foods, such as wheat and orange juice, have been enriched with folic acid. Check the package labels.

There are many benefits of a balanced and nutritional breast feeding diet, here are a few:

  1. Provided that your diet is nutritionally balanced, you will be able to produce milk that actively evolves to suit your child’s needs. As he or she grows, your body will change to ensure that everything your baby needs is in your milk in the right quantities for growth and development.
  2. A good breast feeding diet will actually make you feel better in body and mind. If you eat a diet that is heavy in fat, salt or sugars, you will begin to feel drained and lethargic. Furthermore, your baby will not be able to get what he or she needs to grow.
  3. With the right diet, you will lose weight gradually by breast feeding. It burns calories, so there is no need to crash-diet.
  4. The right diet is essential to keep your immune system strong. Breast feeding passes your antibodies and immunities to your baby. Breast milk also triggers changes in the gut linked to the genes that kick start your baby’s own immune system. If you do not eat the best diet possible, then you may find that you and your baby are more susceptible to illness.

The only disadvantage of a breast feeding diet is that it can take some planning, good discipline, and time to put into action, but this is a small price to pay for a healthy mother and child!

We hear a lot about certain foods that can irritate the baby, such as turnips, celery, watercress, citrus fruits, onions, cabbage, spices, leeks, cauliflower, by giving him or her gas or changing the taste of his mother’s milk. However, it is important to understand that each baby reacts differently to the foods his mother consumes. When nursing, observe your baby, so you can eliminate from your own diet any food that seems to bother him or her. If you decide to use nutritional supplements designed to increase milk production, it’s best if you talk to your doctor. In a breast feeding diet, you really can eat or drink most things (e.g. caffeine, fries, sweets) in moderation, although you should also be mindful that your baby needs a good diet, and keep any junk food to a minimum.

Read More:
Everything You Want To Know About Prenatal Yoga
Breastfeeding Diet: Balanced Nutrition For Mom & Baby