Good nutrition is important for everyone, and
it’s especially important for new moms who are recovering from
pregnancy, labor and delivery and are working hard to keep her family
healthy and happy.
Here are some tips all new moms can use to make sure they get proper nutrition.
- Don’t diet. Stay away from fad diets and calorie counting, and focus
more on getting enough of the good stuff and limiting the junk. You
need to get plenty of calories, but most of those calories should come
from whole foods.Stock up on healthy foods. If your cabinets and refrigerator are full of
healthy foods, you’ll be more likely to eat the way you should be
eating. Focus on nutrient-rich foods, such as:
- whole grains
- lean meats and proteins
- fresh fruits and vegetables (the darker the color, the more nutrients it likely has)
- low-fat dairy (unless your doctor recommends full-fat dairy for you)
- nuts and beans and other legumes
- Watch your portions.
- Choose healthy snacks, such as whole, fresh fruit, nuts, fresh vegetables, cottage cheese and whole grain crackers.
- Plan head and cook in bulk to save yourself time. This can help you avoid convenience foods.
- Go to the grocery store with a list of healthy choices and stick to it. And don’t shop when you’re hungry if you can avoid it.
- Read labels, and avoid processed foods with more than five easily identifiable ingredients.
- Drink plenty of water.
Nutrition for breastfeeding mothers
Breastfeeding mothers or women who are pumping
breast milk frequently ask if there are special dietary considerations
during this time. In most cases, the answer is no. Nutrition for breastfeeding mothers should
consist of a well-balanced diet and enough liquids. Although shedding
those extra pounds gained during pregnancy may be one of your concerns,
strict weight-loss programs are not recommended, especially during the
first few months of breastfeeding.
There are no special diets a breastfeeding mother
must eat, but the following suggestions may help you focus on your
eating patterns while breastfeeding:
Get adequate fluids
Drink enough liquids. Most mothers do notice they
are thirstier when breastfeeding. Drink plenty of liquids, such as
juice, water and milk, to quench your thirst. Liquids can be in any
form, but limit your intake of any that contain caffeine. It is not
necessary to force fluids beyond your thirst, but it is a good idea to
drink something whenever you feel thirsty. Grab something to drink while
breastfeeding, or keep a glass of liquid near your favorite
Choose a variety of foods, and take in enough calories
Your own appetite is usually the best guide for
how much you should eat. In general, mothers are hungrier during the
first several months of breastfeeding, and you should not ignore
feelings of hunger when producing milk for your baby. Grab a one-handed
snack to eat while breastfeeding, or keep wrapped snacks near your
favorite breastfeeding spot.
Eat a variety of foods to get the calories,
vitamins and minerals you need to remain healthy. Experts recommend that
you eat at least 2,000 calories per day while breastfeeding, with your
optimal caloric intake being 500 calories above what was recommended for
you before you became pregnant (for total calories between 2,300 and
2,700). For reference, a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk
contains about 500 calories.
Foods from the following food categories offer the most nutritional value:
- vegetables (especially leafy green vegetables)
- fruits or 100 percent fruit juice (not fruit drinks)
- breads, cereals and grains
- milk, cheese and eggs
Other nutrition considerations for breastfeeding mothers
- Spicy or “gassy” foods. Spicy or gas-producing
foods are common in the diets of many cultures, and these kinds of foods
do not bother most babies. A few babies will develop gas or act colicky
when their mothers eat certain foods. However, there is no one food or
food group that creates problems for all babies. Unless you notice that
your baby reacts within six hours every time you eat a certain food,
there is no need to avoid any particular foods.
- Vegetarian diets. Vegetarian or mostly vegetarian
diets have been the mainstay of many cultures for centuries, and the
breast milk of vegetarians is usually as nutritionally appropriate as
that of other mothers. While you’re breastfeeding, you will want to be
sure that your diet includes complete proteins, so eat a wide variety of
foods. Many vegetarians, including some lacto-ovo vegetarians (who eat
eggs and dairy products), may require supplemental vitamin D, iron and
calcium during the period they are breastfeeding.
are eating vegan or macrobiotic diets may produce milk that is deficient
in vitamin B12. These mothers often require supplements of vitamin B12
so their breast milk will contain a sufficient amount.
- Coffee, tea or sodas. Drinking caffeinated
beverages may make your baby jittery or irritable and can make him or
her have difficulty sleeping, especially if you drink too much caffeine
or drink it very quickly. Drink mainly caffeine-free beverages when
breastfeeding. If you cannot give up your caffeine, limit your intake to
about two eight-ounce servings per day.
- Alcohol: It is best to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while
breastfeeding or pumping for milk. Alcohol does enter the milk supply
and can affect your baby. If you do have an alcoholic drink while
breastfeeding, you may need to pump and discard the milk.
- Smoking/tobacco use: It is best to avoid tobacco use
when breastfeeding or pumping. Nicotine and its byproducts pass into
milk, and tobacco use may cause a baby to have a more rapid heartbeat,
restlessness, vomiting or diarrhea. In addition to its possible effects
on the baby, tobacco use can interfere with milk let-down and it may
reduce the amount of milk you produce. For assistance with smoking
cessation, the American Lung Association can offer helpful tips. Their
information number is 800-586-4872.