Nutritional Plans & Healthy Meal Plan for Breastfeeding Mothers
When you become a mother, everything revolves around what would be best for your baby as you start prioritising your baby’s needs and health.
In this article, Dr Seema Sehgal, a leading obstetrician and gynaecologist in Gurgaon explains nutritional plans and diet best for breastfeeding moms out there.
Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers
First-time moms are usually more worried and skeptical about what to eat and what to avoid while breastfeeding and believe me, this is perfectly normal behaviour.
They start being very cautious of their diet plan and ensure that it provides all of the nutrition required for the baby.
Wondering How Many Calories You Need When You Are Breastfeeding?
Post-delivery, the mother’s body produce milk the whole day. So you might think you need an extra amount of calories to keep yourself and your baby healthy. Breastfeeding does require an additional intake of calories, but it is not necessary to be too stringent about how many calories you take.
A diet chart for breastfeeding mothers should include nutrient-dense foods that assist your body and your baby’s growth and development.
New moms might still have their pregnancy weight on, and in such cases, your body already has those extra calories which will naturally be used for producing milk.
So too much intake of calories included in the diet plan of lactating mothers can also harm their body in the long run, especially when the baby starts consuming solid foods and the baby’s requirement of milk from mothers begin to decrease.
When breastfeeding, burning 200-500 calories a day is normal, so consuming the right amount of calories is essential, but overdoing it isn’t recommended.
Because the good news is that regardless of what you consume, your milk will most likely be adequate for your baby. At each stage of development, your body knows precisely what nourishment your kid requires.
Suppose you stayed within your doctor’s recommended weight throughout pregnancy and your postpartum weight is within normal ranges.
In that case, you shouldn’t need to worry about consuming any more or fewer calories than you already do, but still, if you have any doubts consulting your healthcare specialist is best.
Diet Plan Chart for Breastfeeding/Lactating Mother
Making the right nutritious choices will assist in stimulating the production of milk. Choosing foods rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals will help improve the growth and development of the baby.
Food for Breastfeeding Mothers
Due to the high consumption of calories, mothers do get the required nutrients essential for their health from avocado. So, avocados act as a nutritious powerhouse as it contains over 80% fat and helps sustain a sensation of fullness while also giving heart-healthy fats to your body.
Avocados are high in vitamin B, K, C and E, folate, potassium, along with other nutrients.
2. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are rich sources of protein, vitamins, minerals, and phytoestrogens, where phytoestrogens are known to boost milk production. Eating a variety of beans and legumes is beneficial to your overall health and maintaining healthy milk production.
Soybean and chickpea are some of the most nutritious foods to consume as they have been known to have the highest amount of phytoestrogens in them.
(Note: Please avoid soybean if your baby seems to be allergic to it.)
3. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and potassium. Vitamin A is required for improving eye health and immunological function and helps improve the health of the organs, including the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
4. Whole grains
Rice, bread, oatmeal are all rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and carbohydrates. Being rich in carbohydrates and fibre, they help to keep you fuller for longer and also provides all the necessary nutrients required by the body, and fibre also helps in milk production.
Whole grains are also known to have properties that may help support the hormones responsible for making breast milk. Include- oatmeal cookies, healthy bread and brown rice in your diet during breastfeeding.
Yoghurt or yogurt is a convenient snack and is filled with probiotics, protein, vitamins and calcium. Include low-fat dairy products in your breastfeeding Healthy meal plan as it gives a concentrated amount of calories to help fulfil your body’s required energy needs.
Greek yoghurt is an excellent source of protein and is also available in different flavours so that you can choose as per your taste and mood.
Yogurt is also convenient to eat to consume even when you have very little time for yourself and are preoccupied with the baby’s needs.
Apricots are a great source of fibre, antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, carotenes and minerals. It helps to keep the mother and the baby’s immune system healthy.
Dried apricots contain phytoestrogens, which aid in balancing the lactation hormones. Apricots act as friendly food buddies to breastfeeding moms. They’re one of the best lactogenic foods that can help with breast milk supply.
7. Dark green leafy vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables like alfalfa, lettuce, kale, spinach, and broccoli are rich in fibre, folate, calcium, and vitamins. They include phytoestrogens, which may aid in the production of breast milk.
(Note: Too much intake of broccoli can harm the baby’s digestive system)
8. Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds are rich in fibre, potassium, manganese, zinc, iron, calcium and vitamin C & A. Fennel aids in the production of breastmilk as it is a well-known herbal galactagogue.
This substance may help in increasing the production of breast milk. Breastfeeding mothers can consume fennel seeds by adding a few seeds in tea, as a flavouring agent, and in the vegetables.
Foods to Avoid When Breastfeeding
1. Processed foods
Processed foods might be easy and quick to prepare and eat but are very harmful and toxic to a baby’s health as it contains preservatives and additives.
It may leave your baby feeling irritated fussy. Processed foods can cause digestive problems and allergies to the baby.
Alcohol and breastfeeding don’t go hand in hand because there is no such thing as a safe amount of alcohol in breast milk for a baby to drink.
Some amount of alcohol reaches the breast milk, and once the baby is exposed to the alcoholic breast milk, the baby may have delayed motor development and also affect the baby’s sleep patterns.
Therefore, having too many glasses of alcohol can disturb a baby’s hormonal imbalances and reduce the production of milk.
During pregnancy and even after pregnancy, having too many cups of coffee can disturb the haemoglobin levels in the child. A moderate and recommended amount of caffeine intake would not harm the baby, but too many cups might lower the iron content in the milk.
Smoking has never been considered a good habit, even for mothers who aren’t breastfeeding. Smoking cigarettes can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and breathing issues in children leading to asthma.
5. Parsley and Sage
Though many women may not have seen any problems with parsley and sage, their intake may be low compared to women who noted a drop in milk production after eating parsley and sage.
6. Fish high in mercury
Fish is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, but Breastfeeding mothers should avoid fish high in mercury at all costs.
Even in small amounts, Mercury can travel via breastmilk and harm the baby’s brain and nervous system. Fish heavy in mercury is tuna, swordfish, mackerel, orange roughy, ray, shark and ling.
Wheat-based food is nutritious, but it is not suitable for everyone, so it is critical to check how the baby is responding. Wheat-allergic babies may experience digestive problems, such as rashes, bloody stools, and fussiness.
8. Junk Food
Eating junk food once in a while will not harm you or your baby, but overeating junk food can harm the baby’s health. Mothers may put their children at risk of obesity and overeating as junk food contains high saturated and trans fats.
A Concluding Note
It is always best to test the food you eat, especially when you are breastfeeding. If you suspect your child has a food allergy, speak with your specialist immediately.
Depending on the intensity of the reaction, your healthcare practitioner may suggest avoiding a probable food for two to three weeks to see if it’s the real culprit behind the baby’s discomfort.
To know more about what to limit and what to love when you are breastfeeding, visit CK Birla Hospital or book your appointment with Dr Seema Sehgal, a leading obstetrician and gynaecologist in Gurgaon.
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