Breastfeeding moms pass much of what they eat onto their babies. Getting the right vitamins and minerals while avoiding other things is important for a healthy infant. Here are some tips to ensure a proper diet while breastfeeding.
What a new mom eats when breastfeeding her infant is just as important as what she eats during her pregnancy. Vitamins and nutrients pass to the baby via breastmilk, and sometimes, some negative things can as well. Some babies may react unpleasantly to what their mothers have eaten. It is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid many common irritants for a baby’s health and development.
Daily Diet While Breastfeeding Basics
Technically, nursing moms are still “eating for two,” which means extra calories. Don’t go overboard; just add an extra 500 calories each day of healthy fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. When not getting enough calories, nursing mothers may feel weak and tired.
Also, each day, be sure to drink enough water since breastfeeding can dehydrate the body quickly. Most doctors recommend about 10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day, or else supplementing fluids with juice, soup, and milk.
Adding quality fats to a daily diet while breastfeeding is also important. Fatty acids, like Omega-3, are needed for a baby’s brain development, so mothers should add fish and vegetable oils as much as possible.
There are many common foods, even healthy ones, that can cause a negative reaction in a baby. Using a trial-and-error approach is usually best, so pay attention to how the infant reacts after a certain food is eaten. If the baby fusses or pulls the legs into the stomach while crying, this is an indication of gas pain, and the baby should be burped. Some vegetables to avoid include brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, peppers, turnips, and cucumbers.
Allergens & Other Reactions
Many other foods can cause gas reactions or allergic reactions, usually resulting in an unhappy, screaming infant. Try to avoid these items as much as possible:
Caffeine can make a baby jumpy or irritable and possibly not sleep through the night. Limit caffeine as much as possible, and check medication labels as some contain it.
Certain spices, like chili powder, garlic, curry powder, and cinnamon, may irritate the baby.
Citrus fruits are another cause of discomfort. Some infants have negative reactions to grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, pineapple, strawberry, or kiwi.
Dairy products often gas cause in infants, and sometimes an allergy.
Also, avoid common allergy triggers in case the baby is allergic. These include nuts, peanuts, shellfish, egg, wheat, and soya and may result in diarrhea, hives or rashes, breathing difficulties, swelling, or vomiting. Allergies only occur in 3-4% of infants and are most likely for those with a family history of severe allergies. If these symptoms result, avoid the trigger and contact the pediatrician.
For a healthy baby, nursing mothers should avoid alcohol and nicotine. An occasional drink is permitted, provided mothers wait three hours before the next nursing an infant. Nicotine, however, can pass to the baby and also affect a mother’s milk production. Infants may vomit and not be able to fall asleep when nicotine is present in breastmilk.
For new mothers or first-time nursers, remember to stay patient and use the trial-and-error method to discover what foods irritate the baby. If problems continue or assistance is required, check with a physician or lactation specialist for advice.