Congratulations! You’ve delivered a beautiful baby and are settling into your new life as a mom. If you’ve decided to breastfeed, there’s a lot to think about in terms of your new routine, including what foods are best to consume while you’re working hard to produce breast milk.
The good news: While there is a lot of information about what not to eat while you’re pregnant, the list of foods to avoid while you’re breastfeeding is thankfully quite short –—go ahead and dig in to those soft cheeses and sushi rolls!
There are, though, some general guidelines on the best foods to pile up on while you’re breastfeeding. What’s most important, as it is in pregnancy, is that you maintain a balanced diet, full of nutrient-rich foods. Your body burns about 500 calories a day while producing breast milk, so it’s important that you keep your energy level up by eating regularly.
RELATED: 5 Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding
5 Foods You Should Eat While Breastfeeding
Your body’s calcium levels dip while it’s working hard to make breast milk, so it’s a good idea to get at least four servings of dairy a day to replenish your calcium levels. Luckily, there’s a lot of variety in calcium-rich foods, including milk, yogurt, cheese in the dairy category, as well as non-dairy foods like nuts, tofu, and leafy green vegetables like spinach or kale.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These nutrients help your baby’s eyes and brain develop, in addition to helping you fight off heart disease and cancer. Get your daily dose of Omega-3’s from salmon, tuna, avocado, broccoli, walnuts, and flaxseed.
Folic acid is recommended to take throughout pregnancy as it helps prevent birth defects, but it’s also important to continue to get enough folic acid while you’re breastfeeding. The super-nutrient is passed to the baby from your breast milk and helps your baby to continue to grow in the healthiest way. You can get your recommended 500 mcg of folic acid each day by eating leafy greens, citrus fruit like oranges or grapefruit, chicken, almonds, flaxseed, pasta, bread, beans, and lentils.
Pack a vitamin-filled punch by including lots of fruits and vegetables into your breastfeeding diet. Any fruits and vegetables will help you meet the recommended daily intake of vitamins like B1, B2, B6, C, potassium, folate and vitamin A. Get your three servings of fruits and vegetables by choosing from any of your favorites.
In addition to the foods noted above, there are some go-to “lactation foods” known to help produce breast milk more consistently. Many women use these foods — oats, fennel, brewers yeast, and fenugreek — in baked goods to help increase their milk supply. Lactation tea, made with fenugreek or fennel, is also available at many drugstores and through Amazon.
Luckily, while you’re breastfeeding, there are many, many foods you can enjoy –— and very few you can’t! — making it a bit easier to maintain a healthy diet. Just stock up on some of the healthy staples noted above so it’s as easy as possible to fill up on the nutrients you need while managing a hectic newborn schedule.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.
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