Important Nutrients You Need When Breastfeeding
It's always important to keep a healthy diet, but when you're a breastfeeding superwoman, it's even more crucial. Breastfeeding uses a lot of energy and nutrients that you will then need to replenish, which means adding 300 – 500 calories to your diet just to meet your energy needs and to support your growing baby. Snack it up, mamma!
What nutrients do breastfeeding women need?
Nutrients can be found in a variety of delicious foods like fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, dairy products, and lean meats. You might also need to take a prenatal multivitamin but speak to your medical practitioner about this first.
- Calcium: Calcium is crucial for strong bones and teeth, as well as the proper function of your circulatory, muscular, and nervous systems. Enjoy low-fat dairy products, fortified juices and milk alternatives, cereals, and even kale.
- Iron: Iron-rich foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, fortified cereals, legumes, and leafy greens should be included in your diet and may also require a daily iron supplement. Iron deficiency anaemia can cause fatigue.
- Carbohydrates: Carbs provide the energy needed for breastfeeding. Whole grains, fruits, and veggies are the best sources of carbs and fibre, while refined carbs and added sugars should be limited.
- Healthy fats: These are essential in any healthy diet and can be found in olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, and fatty fish like salmon. Limit unhealthy saturated and trans fats.
- Iodine: Iodine is needed to produce thyroid hormones. When breastfeeding, your thyroid activity is increased which means you need more iodine. Use iodized salt in your cooking, eat iodine-rich foods like seafood and dairy products, and take a daily prenatal vitamin with 150 micrograms of iodide.
- Protein: Extra protein is important for a breastfeeding woman to support her muscle mass and provide sufficient nutrients to her infant through breast milk. Protein can be found in lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, eggs, and tofu.
- Fibre: Added fibre can help ease constipation. Whole grains (like whole-wheat bread, whole-grain cereals, and brown rice) and fruits, vegetables, and legumes (beans, split peas, and lentils) are good sources of fibre.
- Vitamins and folate: Breastfeeding requires an increased intake of specific nutrients, such as folate found in leafy green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and cabbage; vitamin C found in citrus fruits, berries, tropical fruit, tomatoes, capsicum, and potatoes; vitamin A found in dark green and yellow vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and pumpkin.
Are there any foods or drinks to avoid while breastfeeding?
Both caffeine and alcohol are passed into breast milk, so keep this to a minimum or not at all. Don't worry, we're not asking you to give up your daily cup of coffee, just maybe cut back a bit. Your baby will thank you for it!
Breastfeeding takes a lot out of you, but the more you focus on filling up on healthy, nutrient-packed foods, the better you'll feel. When you're breastfeeding, your body needs even more of those good nutrients, but the good news is that it uses them more effectively. Plus, you might find that your appetite is through the roof - so don't be shy about indulging in an extra snack (or three)!
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