When it comes to breastfeeding, everyone swears they know exactly what to eat to make the most and the best this world has to offer. After all, you do need to know your baby will get everything necessary for proper growth from your breast milk. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should help yourself to every calorie-rich chocolate cake, or sodium-filled chip bag. What you eat still matters because baby is still eating through you! Good nutrition will help increase your milk supply, give you more energy and not to mention help you take off the baby weight.
Not all foods were created equal in regards to breast milk enhancement. We have compiled a list from doctors within the US about the top 10 foods for breast milk:
- Whole grain bread
Whole grains are complex carbohydrates, meaning they keep you feeling full longer, and you won’t get those energy dips you do with refined carbohydrates. Whole-grain versions are an important source of B vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fiber helps you feel full longer, keeps blood sugar levels steady and aids in digestion.
An excellent source of protein, salmon is rich in vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also one of only a few sources that has natural vitamin D, and many women have vitamin D deficiencies. B12 and omega-3 are thought to help ward off postpartum depression. Salmon is great for breastfeeding moms because it contains large amounts of DHA, a type of fat important for the development of a baby’s nervous system. Wild-caught, farm-raised or canned salmon is good for you.
- Red Meat/ Beef
Breastfeeding moms have more need for the mineral zinc. Beef is a high-quality protein rich in zinc, iron and B vitamins. It helps you maintain your energy, and we all know having a new baby at home requires lots of energy.
Eggs are rich in protein, choline, lutein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin and folate. They are a quick, easy meal or snack. Yolks are not bad for you either! New research shows eggs will not increase your cholesterol.
- Green leafy vegetables
Leafy greens are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K as well as fiber, antioxidants and minerals including calcium. Additionally, they are so low in calories you can eat them all day long and not have to worry about how many calories you have consumed. You can put them in your breakfast omelets, smoothies, salads, stir-fry, casseroles, etc. Broccoli and Swiss chard are nutrient-dense and high in calcium; spinach is rich in iron.
- Sweet Potatoes
Just one medium sweet potato meets the daily recommendation of vitamin A for breast-feeding moms. Vitamin A is important for vision, bone growth, immune function and cell specialization. Your baby is dependent on your dietary intake to get the vitamin A required for growth and development.
As great sources of protein, iron, and fiber, beans belong in your diet. They also have lots of minerals and phytochemicals — naturally, non-nutrient chemicals a plant produces. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, studies on phytochemicals have shown they can stimulate the immune system, block bad substances we eat, drink and breathe from becoming carcinogens (cancer-causing), reduce the kind of inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely, prevent DNA damage, help with DNA repair, reduce the kind of oxidative damage to cells that can spark cancer and help to regulate hormones.
Nuts contain protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. They are good for your skin, help you stay younger-looking and protect you from heart disease. Almonds are touted as great for breastfeeding moms because they are a good non-dairy source of calcium. (Breastfeeding moms should have 1,000 mg of calcium daily.) Your milk is high in calcium, and if you don’t get enough of it in your diet, it could negatively impact your bones and teeth.
Avocados are a nutritional powerhouse for nursing moms. A common complaint of nursing mothers is that they are often very hungry due to the increased caloric demands of nursing and have very little time to prep and eat meals. Avocados are nearly 80 percent fat and help maintain a feeling of fullness in addition to providing your body with heart-healthy fats. Avocados are also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin K, folate, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Calcium is important. Get some of the required 1,000 mg a day from low-fat or Greek yogurt. Yogurt is also a good source of protein. There are so many flavors available that you are sure to find ones you like. Add fruit or granola for an even yummier yogurt. (Caution: If your baby has been diagnosed with milk protein intolerance, dairy products like yogurt should not be part of your diet.)