You may be wondering why it is so important for mothers who plan to breastfeed to eat a healthy, nutrient-dense diet.
For starters, your breast milk is your baby’s primary source of nutrients for the first six months of his or her life, and what you eat determines the composition of your breast milk, albeit selectively.
There’s also the fact that during breastfeeding, your body’s daily nutritional requirements are increased to account for your breast milk production.
Table 1: Daily nutritional requirements of a normal adult (woman) and a breastfeeding mother.
|Normal adult (woman)||Breastfeeding mother|
|Ages 18 – 30||First 6 months||After 6 months|
|Calories||1,745 – 2,840kcal||2,245 – 3,340kcal||2,245 – 3,340kcal|
Additionally, you will also need these nutrients for your own postpartum health, recovery, and wellbeing. So, evidently, good nutrition should be at the top of your priority list.
Does this mean you’ll have to follow a special breastfeeding diet? No. All you have to do is eat a healthy, balanced diet. This means incorporating these superfoods into your diet!
There’s really no need to explain this one as we all know that leafy greens contain a wealth of nutrients. According to research, vitamins such as vitamin A and D, as well as minerals such as iodine (found in leafy greens), can be translated to your breast milk from your diet – greatly benefiting you and your baby in various ways.
But wait, that’s not all! Aside from being rich in antioxidants that can help prevent many chronic diseases, certain leafy greens are also extremely high in iron, zinc, and folate, the levels of which are low in your body after childbirth.
The best part? All of these essential vitamins and minerals, and MORE, can be found in one or more leafy greens!
|Vitamin C||Sweet potato leaves|
|Vitamin K||Collard greens|
Additionally, dark leafy greens, such as artichokes, collard greens, and Swiss chard, are also high in fibre. They can help promote fullness and improve both your gut health and overall mood. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kales, on the other hand, are said to boost energy levels. So be sure to stock up on these as well, as your health and strength are critical to your ability to successfully breastfeed your baby!
Breastfeeding is said to affect a mother’s bones. According to research, breastfeeding can cause a woman to lose 3 to 5% of her bone mass. This could be due to calcium being drawn out of the mother’s bones as a result of the baby’s increased calcium requirement. So, adequate calcium intake is essential for breastfeeding mothers, which is also why the daily recommended calcium nutrient intake for a breastfeeding mother is higher than that of an average adult woman.
Greek yoghurt has grown in popularity among breastfeeding mothers in recent years due to its high calcium content. Furthermore, Greek yoghurt also contains probiotics – beneficial bacteria that improve gut health.
Greek yoghurt comes in a variety of flavours, so you’re bound to find one you enjoy. You can even add your favourite fruits to it to make them tastier. One of the best things about Greek yoghurt, however, is that it has a high protein content that promotes fullness, making it an ideal snack!
Hemp seeds are considered a complete protein source, which means they contain all of the essential amino acids required by your body. More importantly, however, hemp seeds have an Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio of about 3:1, which is within the optimal range. This ratio can lower the risk of many chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease (CHD) and high blood cholesterol. Besides that, hemp seeds also contain an impressive amount of essential vitamins and minerals that your body requires postpartum. These include:
- Vitamin E
Note: Although hemp seeds come from the Cannabis sativa plant, they have no psychoactive effects on those who consume them.
Maintaining a healthy milk supply is a sure-fire way to ensure your baby gets enough nutrients. So, if you want to make sure that you are, in fact, producing enough, if not more, breast milk for your baby, you can include galactagogues in your daily diet in addition to staying hydrated and consuming your recommended amount of calories each day.
Galactagogues (found in almost every breastfeeding food package, including the ones at ReLacto) are foods that are said to increase breast milk production. Examples include ginger, garlic, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, and moringa oleifera. Despite the lack of conclusive evidence, all of these foods are said to have the potential to be lactogenic.
There is no conclusive evidence but has potential to be lactogenic are papaya, ginger, garlic, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, and moringa oleifera. You can learn more about each of these galactagogues, as well as how to incorporate them into your daily diet here. We also have some of the best lactation meals in all of Singapore, and yes, they are all packed with galactagogues for the benefit of breastfeeding mothers. So be sure to go check them out!
What Foods Do I Avoid?
Before you head to your local grocery store to stock up on the above foods for your kitchen, it is best to know which foods you should avoid putting in your shopping cart.
Here are 4 breastfeeding foods to avoid.
1. Fish high in mercury
Examples: Bigeye tuna, shark, swordfish, tilefish, kingfish, etc.
Examples: Beer, champagne, cocktails, sake, and other alcoholic beverages.
3. Caffeine intake of more than 200mg per day
Caffeine is allowed as long as you keep your daily consumption below 200mg. Here’s a general guideline of the amount of caffeine in some common caffeinated foods and drinks for your reference:
- Dark chocolate (per 100g): contains around 80mg of caffeine
- Coffee (per cup): contains around 100 to 140mg of caffeine
- Tea (per cup): contains around 30 to 50mg of caffeine
- Soda (per can): contains around 80mg of caffeine
4. Frequent intake of highly processed foods
Examples: Fast foods, margarine, instant noodles, sausages, luncheon meat, etc.
Speaking of shopping, mommies, be sure to do a little shopping for your baby as well by visiting MumChecked!