Food Choices While Breastfeeding

There are many benefits of breastfeeding including:

  • Colostrum (replaced by milk after the first few days) protects against autoimmune diseases, promotes healing and has a long-term anti-aging response.
  • Antibodies are passed from mom to baby to provide immunity to the baby while his/her own little immune system is developing
  • Protective towards some illnesses for baby (eczema, ear infections, iron-deficiency anemia)
  • Baby receives a nutritious meal while bonding with mom
  • Nursing causes uterine contractions, therefore shrinking the uterus
  • Nursing decreases the risk for breast cancer and osteoporosis.

In order for baby to receive proper nutrition in his/her first months of life requires mom to eat a healthy, balanced diet of whole foods while she is breastfeeding.  While you are breastfeeding you are still “eating for two” and remember that you need an additional 500 calories daily to produce breast milk.  Keeping this in mind, some of the “baby weight” will come off while you are breastfeeding but you should not be losing more than 1 lb/week starting in the 2nd month or your breast milk will be affected (there will be a more rapid weight loss in the first month). Take these dietary recommendations into consideration while breastfeeding.

Foods to eat (lots of!)

FOOD

EXAMPLES

NOTES

WATER! Spring, reverse osmosis, filtered I know this isn’t a food but it’s a reminder that it is important to drink at least 1 glass with every feeding
Vegetables Eat as many fresh vegetables as you can find in the grocery store! Opt for organic veggies if possible to minimize pesticide exposure.
Protein Meat (chicken, beef, fish), eggs Required for energy for both mom and baby.  At least 30g/day is required.

While you are breastfeeding you need not be concerned about losing excess iron (iron lost through breast milk is half of what is normally lost during menstruation, and since most women do not menstruate while breastfeeding iron stores will actually be replenished while breastfeeding).

You can continue to take your prenatal vitamin while breastfeeding to replenish any deficiencies.

Foods to avoid

FOOD

EXAMPLES

NOTES

Caffeine Coffee, black tea, chocolate, cola, Mountain Dew Frequently causes colic and it takes a baby’s liver 24 hours to breakdown 1 cup of coffee.
Vegetables Broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts May cause colic
Dairy Cow’s milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream May cause congestion or rashes in baby, increases mucous
Common allergens Peanuts, strawberries, shrimp (and other shell fish) These allergens commonly cause anaphylaxis in early childhood so decreasing exposure will decrease the risk of developing an allergy
Alcohol Beer, wine, liquor, tinctures Alcohol should be avoided completely and DOES NOT have enough time to filter through your system beween feedings.
Aspartame Soda, artificial sweeteners, gum Can increase phenylalanine levels in baby

It is important to remember to eat as though you are still pregnant and anything you would be afraid of passing through the placenta will also pass through the breast milk.