“Eating for two” is a cutesy thing people used to say about pregnant women, but it is actually more appropriate for breastfeeding moms. Everything a new mom eats or drinks is passed along to her baby through breast milk. As new moms know, the health benefits of breast milk are astounding for your baby’s growth and development in every way, from her brain and blood, to her muscles and coordination. Breastfeeding is one of the best gifts of health and wellbeing you can offer your baby. But what you put in your breast milk, otherwise known as your own diet, can also support your baby’s development and elevate the benefits of your breast milk.
While a well-balanced and “clean” diet is wholesome during breastfeeding, some foods are just better for new moms than others. We’ve compiled the 5 best things to eat and drink while breastfeeding to give your baby the best start in life:
- Oatmeal: High in iron and fiber, oatmeal is a superfood for breastfeeding moms. When you serve it with calcium-rich milk or soy milk, oatmeal has almost all the essentials for breastfeeding moms. Plus, oatmeal is a heart-healthy food that helps lower bad cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar levels and keeps the body feeling full and satisfied for longer. For busy breastfeeding moms, a nutrient-packed breakfast like oatmeal can help sustain you all morning long and even increase your milk supply. Consider also adding oats as toppings for your yogurt, cereal or ground into your smoothie for a whole grain bonus to other meals and snacks.
- Green Leafy Vegetables: These cruciferous vegetables include kale, Swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, escarole, broccoli, cabbage, lettuces and Brussels sprouts. They are jam-packed with almost every vitamin, mineral and antioxidant in the alphabet, especially the B complex vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium and iron. Green leafy vegetables offer a boost of energy, support strong blood flow and heart function and keep your bones strong and healthy. While you pass along these wonderful nutrients to your baby, do be cautious about over-doing it on the greens as they may cause excess gas.
- Low-Mercury Fish: Fish is a terrific source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are tremendous healthy fats that support cognition development and function. Deemed one of the best brain foods, fish that are low in mercury should be part of every breastfeeding mother’s diet. These low-mercury fish include salmon, cod halibut, tilapia, shrimp and canned chunk light tuna. New recommendations include consuming a variety of low-mercury fish three times a week during pregnancy and while breastfeeding to support your baby’s brain development.
- Nuts: Nuts are a great all-natural source of protein, iron, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Like fish, nuts also contain healthy unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids. These small but powerful foods go a long way for breastfeeding moms and their babies. Plus they are easy to pop throughout the day for a quick pick-me-up, even during breastfeeding. Keep in mind, nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews and pistachios give you the best bang for your buck.
- Water: Water is an essential part of your body and your breast milk. Breastfeeding moms need at least 10 eight-ounce glasses of water daily in order to produce milk. Additionally, lactating women are more prone to dehydration which can lead to fatigue. The last thing a nursing mother needs is something else making her drowsy. Stay on top of your game and your milk by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Also, replace sugary drinks, caffeine and alcohol with water as these substances can greatly affect your baby, often causing babies to be fussy, hyper or have gastrointestinal distress.
We hope you enjoy these best foods to eat and drink during breastfeeding. Cheers to your health and the health of your baby!