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    What Should I Eat While Breastfeeding?

    Gretchen M. RN, IBCLC, Lactation Coordinator 08/07/2019
    When I was pregnant with my first baby I was so careful about the foods I ate, following every rule and I even made up some of my own.  After I gave birth I was excited to have some of the things I missed but everyone started telling me “you can’t eat that while you are breastfeeding”.  I was disappointed, but I decided to do some research and I found I could eat almost anything I wanted to (in moderation).  Now being a Lactation Consultant, I have learned so much since my kids were born and want to share some information on what to eat while you are breastfeeding.

    One of the wonders of breast milk is that it can meet your baby's nutritional needs even when you're not eating perfectly.  However, if your diet is too low in calories or relies on one food group at the exclusion of others, this could affect the quality, quantity of your milk and your health.  You need to stay healthy and strong to care for your new baby.

    Here are some tips:
    1. Eat when you are hungry. Eating small meals with healthy snacks in between – the way you may have done during pregnancy – is a good way to keep your hunger in check and your energy level high.
    2. Don’t count calories. But in general, most women who are breastfeeding need about 500 calories more than moms who aren't – Eat a couple of extra healthy snacks per day
    3. Include a variety of healthy foods: Eating a mix of carbs, protein, and fats at meals keeps you feeling full longer and supplies the nutrients your body needs.
    4. Eat local produce or organic when you can, avoid foods high in pesticides.
    • Fruits and vegetables with lower amounts of pesticide residue are onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocados, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, and mushrooms.
    • Foods higher in pesticides are apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines and grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, and kale and collard greens
    5. Avoid the same fish you would if you were pregnant
    6. Drink to thirst. Drink plenty of water. Consume caffeine in moderation
    • Most experts suggest that nursing moms limit their consumption of caffeine (including coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate and coffee ice cream) to no more than 300 mg per day. That's about as much as you'd get in three 5-ounce cups of coffee. 
    7. Keep taking your vitamins. 
    8. Limit alcohol but you do not have to avoid it completely. Call your lactation consultant for more information. 
     
    You should eat a good healthy diet just like you did during your pregnancy. In general, most babies will not
    be bothered by any particular foods, so most mothers can eat whatever they want, in moderation. However, if
    your baby is seems fussy or uncomfortable after you eat a certain food, you may want to avoid it for awhile.
    “Diet for a healthy breast feeding mom” May 2012, www.babycenter.com
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