Nursing your baby and watching them grow is a beautiful journey. However, this should be coupled with looking after your own mental and physical health. Studies show that every baby should get breast milk for at least the first six months of life. This is beneficial to both the baby as well as the mother.
If a nursing mom does not have an enriched diet during these days, nutrition for breast milk is taken directly from her body tissues. Thus, maintaining a healthy and varied diet is of utmost importance. Some of the foods that you can increase if you are breastfeeding or nursing are as follows:
- Water - Though water is not a “food,” it is the most important part of maintaining a healthy diet, especially if you are nursing. It helps keep up your milk supply and provides other benefits, like maintaining healthy skin, aiding digestion, improving energy levels, and helping weight loss. Make sure to keep a bottle of water near your workspace so that you don’t forget to drink up!
- Whole grains - Whole grains like oats, quinoa, whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, and millet contain a good amount of fiber that is good for you as well as your baby. Many moms have claimed that oats are particularly good for increasing breast milk supply. It is high in iron and can help to lower stress levels.
- Green leafy vegetables - You can derive vitamins like A, C, and K from green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, and romaine lettuce. They also have plenty of antioxidants, are low in calories, and are an excellent source of fiber.
- Dairy products - Milk, cheese, and yogurt are important sources of calcium and vitamin D that are beneficial to both you and your baby. Though breast milk contains some probiotics for your little one, increasing the types and amount of dairy food in your diet helps increase the healthy bacteria needed for your baby’s gut.
- Nuts and seeds - Nuts like almonds, peanuts, pistachio, pecans, and cashews provide non-dairy calcium. Nuts and seeds are rich in iron, protein, and vitamin B and are known to increase milk supply. You can also look for almond supplements if that suits you better. Nuts provide omega-3 fatty acids and also contain antioxidants. Sunflower, flax, and pumpkin seeds have zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, improve lactation, and help brain development in babies and children.
- Legumes, beans, and pulses - Legumes, beans, and pulses are inexpensive and a good source of protein if you don’t eat meat. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and are high in protein and carbohydrates. They are also an excellent source of iron. Incorporate dried beans like soybeans, mung, or fava into your diet. Or you could opt for dried peas like chickpeas.
- Fish - Fish, especially salmon, tuna, and sardines, have high quantities of unsaturated fats called omega-3 fatty acids. This is beneficial to both you as well as your baby’s nervous system. However, it is recommended that you be careful of high mercury content in fish such as king mackerel and swordfish and only consume up to 12 ounces per week of fatty fish if you are breastfeeding or nursing.
- Protein - Protein is an essential part of any nursing mom’s diet. You can consume it in the form of hard-boiled eggs, cheese, nuts, and meats. Eggs have fat-soluble vitamin A, B, and D and a mineral called choline. Make it a breakfast meal or add it to your salad for lunch.
It is best if you limit the intake of foods that are high in saturated fats like biscuits, cakes, pizzas, and burgers. Also, replace artificially sweetened juices, energy drinks, and sports drinks with natural juices and water.