By now, you know all about pregnancy food restrictions and are unlikely to see any moms-to-be downing shots of tequila or tucking into a platter of sushi. But what happens once the baby arrives and you’re ready to start breastfeeding? You’re still eating for two in a way, and it isn’t like you’re about to forego more than nine months of careful eating for a diet of junk food. But it can be tricky to know which foods are the best choices for both mom and baby during this time. Fortunately, a good breastfeeding meal plan may help you produce more milk and give you the energy to feed your baby, even on days when all you want is another hour or two of shut-eye.
The usual foundations of any healthy diet, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, adequate protein, and lots of calcium are all advised, but breastfeeding moms also need foods that help keep the milk flowing. Yes, some of these foods may act as natural galactogogues, or substances that help boost your milk production. In other words, they are superfoods for both you and your baby. To find out which foods are a good bet for new moms, and which are best avoided at this time, read on.
1. Brown Rice
Health recommended new moms enjoy plenty of brown rice, whole wheat bread, and fortified cereals. As the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes, these complex carbohydrates are used to give the body energy because they take longer to digest. These foods will help give you the sustained energy you need to take care of your baby.
Drink milk to make milk? Well, in a way. Consuming dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt is a great way to get the calcium you need, and, as noted by Healthy Children, meet your baby’s calcium needs as well. Not into dairy? Tofu and fortified cereals can work, too.
3. Beans & Lentils
Fruits in general are a good idea for breastfeeding moms, especially oranges, strawberries, and grapefruit, which are rich in vitamin C. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that vitamin C is important for tissue growth and repair, and breastfeeding moms need more vitamin C now than during pregnancy (around 120 milligrams per day).
According to Women’s Health, new moms need extra folic acid (around 500 mcg daily) while they are breastfeeding, as it prevents anemia. Consider stocking up on papaya, oranges, and raspberries to get your daily dose.
Fish, like salmon, canned light tuna, or tilapia, is a good source of the omega-3 fats, which Baby Center noted help your baby’s brain and eye development. Just watch out for fish known to contain harmful levels of mercury, such as shark, swordfish, and king mackerel. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, if infants are exposed to this element in fish known as methylmercury, they may experience impaired neurological development.
According to Kelly Mom, oats cant amp up a mom’s breast milk supply since they positively affects levels of pitocin, the hormone responsible for milk supply. So tucking into a large bowl of oatmeal may help you breastfeed more easily.
8. Leafy Green Veggies
A recent study from Purdue found that many breastfeeidng moms need more vitamin A to boost the carotenoid content in their breast milk, which plays a big role in your baby’s development. To amp up your vitamin A intake, munch on sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash.