9 Superfoods For Breastfeeding Moms

Healthy Diet While Breastfeeding

Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your little one. That's why a breastfeeding mom needs to consume healthy and nutritious foods in order to nourish her baby. Your breast milk is the only source of nutrients for your baby to achieve optimal growth and development. Breast milk is like a whole food that provides all the crucial nutrients to the baby that he/she needs to grow. Breastfeeding mothers require an additional 500 kcal in the diet during the lactation phase. A breastfeeding woman needs to consume a healthy diet that includes protein, antioxidants, phytonutrients, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, and calcium so that the milk the baby gets is packed with all the essential nutrients. In this article, we'll talk about the 9 amazing superfoods for nursing moms. Read this article to know all about having a healthy diet while breastfeeding.

Superfoods for breastfeeding moms

Breastfeeding Superfoods

If you're a breastfeeding mom then add these superfoods to your diet to get all the crucial nutrients that your body needs during the lactation phase:

1. Whole Grain Foods 

Whole Grains are rich in nutrients that are crucial for lactation moms. They're an excellent source of protein. fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. All these nutrients are crucial for the good health of nursing moms. They also help in the healthy growth and development of your newborn. The fiber content of whole grains helps to ease digestion and reduces constipation thereby improving digestive health.  Whole grains are an excellent source of magnesium that plays a major role in the overall health of the body. It helps in muscle relaxation and boosts your energy levels. Magnesium also helps to keep your stress levels low by deactivating a stress hormone called Adrenaline. Keeping stress levels low while breastfeeding is very essential as high-stress levels can decrease your breast milk supply. Consumption of whole-grain foods on a regular basis keeps you healthy by reducing the risk of several diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, cancer, etc. It helps to reduce cholesterol in the body and lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Whole grains are also a good source of iron which is required for a healthy immune system. Therefore regular consumption of whole grains is extremely beneficial for a nursing mom. Some of the healthy and nutritious whole-grain foods for breastfeeding moms are:

  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole Wheat
  • Barley
  • Millet
  • Whole-grain bread

2. Nuts 

Nuts are a good source of vitamins, proteins, unsaturated fat, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and antioxidants. You can consume them raw. Regular consumption of nuts helps in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood thereby reducing the risk of heart-related issues. Nuts are a good source of vitamin E that helps to nourish your skin and hair. They're a rich source of fiber that helps to regulate bowel movement thereby keeping constipation and indigestion issues at bay. Nuts contain antioxidants that help to remove free radicals from the body and also prevent oxidative stress. Some of the nuts that are healthy to consume while breastfeeding include:

  • Almonds
  • Cashew Nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts

3. Seeds

Seeds are a rich source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and minerals such as iron, calcium. They're an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that is essential for your baby's brain development. Seeds are a great source of antioxidants that eliminate free radicals from the body. They also help in boosting the immune system. Some of the healthy seeds that you can consume while breastfeeding include:

  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Fenugreek Seeds
  • Dill Seeds

4. Dairy Products

Dairy products are a great source of calcium that helps to build strong teeth and bones. A nursing mom needs 1000 mg of calcium per day. Dairy products are also a good source of iodine which is essential for a lactating mom. They're a great source of lean protein that provides all the nine essential amino acids that the body can't make on its own. Some of the dairy products that are extremely beneficial for a nursing mom are:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese

5. Vegetables

Vegetables are a good source of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Consuming different varieties of healthy vegetables on a regular basis will help your body to replenish the nutrients that it needs to produce sufficient milk. Vegetables, especially dark leafy green veggies are an excellent source of folate that plays a major role in the healthy development of a baby's brain and spinal cord. They contain carbohydrates that provide you energy during the lactation phase. The fiber content of veggies regulates bowel movements and prevents constipation thereby improving digestive health. Veggies are also a great source of vitamins and minerals that plays an essential role in the healthy growth and development of your baby. Some of the healthy veggies that you must include during the lactation phase are listed below:

  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Alfalfa
  • Kale 
  • Collards
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Leafy Green Veggies

6. Fruits

Fruits are a great source of nutrients. They're fully packed with fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. Regular consumption of fresh fruits provides you energy and several nutrients during the lactation phase. They provide numerous nutrients that are crucial for your baby's healthy growth and development. They provide vitamins such as vitamins B1, B2, B6, and C which keep you healthy and are also essential for the production of milk. Some of the fruits that you must include in your diet while breastfeeding:

  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Green Papaya
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sapodilla
  • Figs

7. Legumes / Beans

Legumes are a rich source of protein, iron, potassium, fiber, folate, and zinc. All of these nutrients contribute to the healthy growth and proper development of your little one. Beans are a great source of phytochemicals and micronutrients. They contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. The fiber content of beans helps in relieving constipation thereby keeping digestion-related issues at bay. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of beans help to treat skin problems such as acne, eczema, etc. Their low glycemic index food hence helps to maintain blood sugar levels.

  • Chickpeas
  • Black Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lentils
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Fava Beans

8. Seafood

Seafood is an excellent source of protein, iodine, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in the development of the baby's brain and nervous system. You can safely consume fish and other seafood which contain low levels of mercury two to three times a week. Avoid consuming fish and seafood while breastfeeding that contain a high content of mercury. Seafood that is safe and healthy to consume while breastfeeding is:

  • Salmon
  • Catfish
  • Canned Light Tuna
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Shrimp
  • Scallops
  • Tilapia
  • Pollock

9. Eggs 

Eggs contain a high content of protein and micronutrients that you need during the lactation phase. They contain folate, choline, vitamins such as vitamins A, B complex, D, and E, minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, and bioactive compounds such as lutein and zeaxanthin. You can consume cooked eggs 3 or 4 times a week. Avoid consuming raw or undercooked eggs while breastfeeding as they can increase the chances of developing salmonella poisoning. Regular consumption of eggs helps to increase the good cholesterol levels in the body. Eggs contain a compound called choline which is an essential nutrient for brain development and it also helps in maintaining liver function. They're a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that plays a major role in brain and vision development. Eggs contain all the nine essential amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins. These amino acids play a major role in the creation of blood cells and tissue repair. Eggs are a good source of calcium and phosphorus. Both of these minerals help to strengthen your bones and also help the baby to develop healthy bones too. Eggs are packed with numerous essential nutrients that boost your immunity while breastfeeding.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What to eat while breastfeeding?

-> Include protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, dairy, seeds, dried fruits, eggs, fish, and fruits in your daily diet. A protein-rich diet is good for both the breastfeeding mom and her baby.

-> Breastfeeding can make you feel thirsty so keep yourself hydrated throughout the day and drink at least 8 glasses of water daily. If you'll not drink an adequate amount of water it will cause dehydration that can lead to several other complications such as constipation, fatigue, or urinary tract infections. You can also take healthy fluids such as fresh fruit juices, coconut water, buttermilk, and lemon juice to meet your daily fluid intake requirement.

-> Don't skip meals. Include two servings of seasonal fruits and three servings of vegetables per day.

-> Include whole grains such as whole-wheat bread, oats, and cereals in your daily diet.

-> Continue to take iron and calcium supplements in the postpartum period as well. Take these supplements in the postpartum period for up to 3 months.

2. What foods or drinks to limit or avoid while breastfeeding?

-> Limit your caffeine intake and drinks with added sugars such as energy drinks, and sodas.

-> Avoid drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. But if you choose to drink alcohol then drink it in moderation and right after breastfeeding or pumping. 

(Also read: Influenza in Babies)

3. What foods to avoid while breastfeeding?

High mercury fish, excess amount of caffeine or alcohol, sushi containing high-mercury fish, spicy foods, gassy foods, too many herbs such as parsley, sage, or peppermint, sugary drinks, and a large amount of chocolate.

4. What foods help to produce breast milk?

The foods that might help in boosting your milk supply are oatmeal, quinoa, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, lean meat, apricots, and whole grains.

5. Can I drink milk while breastfeeding?

Yes, milk and other dairy products are a good source of calcium, an essential mineral that is required to build and maintain healthy teeth and bones. It enables blood to clot and contract muscles. A proper level of calcium in the body helps to prevent losing bone mass thereby reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis. You can consume milk while breastfeeding but there is no scientific evidence available which proves that drinking milk can increase the milk supply of nursing moms. 

6. How much water should a breastfeeding mom drink?

Breastfeeding is composed of 90% water so it's essential to drink enough water in order to produce milk. The process of breastfeeding can make you feel thirsty. A breastfeeding mom needs to stay hydrated. A lactating mother needs to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day to keep herself healthy.

7. What herbs to avoid while breastfeeding?

Artemisia, Black Walnut, Black Cohosh, Borrage, Buckthorn, Mugwort, Comfrey leaf, Ginseng, and Licorice Root.

8. Which tea to avoid while breastfeeding?

Limit your caffeine intake while breastfeeding. A moderate amount of caffeine doesn't cause any harm to your baby but excess caffeine can make your baby become fussy or wakeful. 

9. Which tea is good for lactation?

Herbal nursing teas are considered safe while breastfeeding and most of them are caffeine-free but to be on the safer side consult your doctor before drinking them. 

10. Is ginger good for breastfeeding?

Ginger is usually considered safe to consume while breastfeeding if taken in small amounts. It helps to treat digestion problems in breastfeeding moms. Consuming ginger in the right amount helps to boost your immunity and also prevents you from common cold and cough during the lactation phase.

11. What foods should a breastfeeding mom avoid?

High mercury fish such as king mackerel, bigeye tuna, swordfish, tilefish, and shark, Excessive alcohol intake, Some herbal supplements, Excess amount of caffeine, Highly processed foods, Acidic foods, Sugar, and artificial sweeteners.

12. Is lemon water good for breastfeeding mothers?

Yes, lemon water is considered one of the best healthy drinks for breastfeeding mothers. It helps to boost your energy levels. Lemon contains many essential nutrients such as vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Lemon juice is good for digestion and keeps you away from complications such as bloating, cramps, irregular bowel movements, and constipation. It helps to flush out all the harmful toxins from your body so that your baby gets healthy and pure milk. 

13. Do breastfeeding moms lose weight faster?

Yes, breastfeeding helps you to shed those extra pounds that you've gained during pregnancy. Nursing moms burn up to 500 calories each day which helps them to lose weight faster.

14. Do you burn calories when pumping breast milk?

Yes, pumping moms can burn almost 500 calories per day.

15. Why should I avoid chocolate while breastfeeding?

You can eat chocolate while breastfeeding but always remember moderation is the key. Chocolate contains caffeine and a high amount of caffeine intake during the lactation period can cause an upset stomach for your baby that can lead to irritability and fussiness.

16. Is drinking cold water bad for breastfeeding?

No, drinking cold water while breastfeeding doesn't cause any harmful effects on your baby.

17. Are herbal teas ok while breastfeeding?

Herbal teas are usually ok to consume while breastfeeding. Don't take excessive amounts. Limit its intake to 1 to 2 cups per day. However, most herbal teas are safe to take while breastfeeding but it's good to seek your doctor's approval. 

18. Can I eat chocolate while breastfeeding?

Yes, chocolate is safe to consume in a moderate amount while breastfeeding. 

Watch this video to know all about the superfoods that you should consume during breastfeeding.

Congratulation on the arrival of your little bundle of joy. Welcome to the overwhelming and exciting phase of motherhood. Breastfeeding comes with lots of challenges. Be patient and take some time to pamper yourself as well. Feel confident and follow these healthy eating tips to make your lactation phase wonderful. Seek your doctor's approval before including any new food in your breastfeeding diet. 

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Disclaimer: This content is intended for general information only and should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. The given content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment, or any diagnosis. Always consult a doctor for more information. Our website doesn't claim responsibility for this information.

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