Proper Diet For Breastfeeding

One More Time...

You've heard it all before - we'll repeat it one more time - when you are breastfeeding, what you eat and how you take care of yourself directly affects your baby. A nursing mother, on average, produces between 23 to 27 ounces of milk per day and this milk contains 330 milligrams of calcium per quart. This will require an additional expenditure of 500 calories per day. From this information, one can see that good nutrition is vital for the health of both mother and baby.

Don't Kid Yourself

If a nursing mother deprives herself of food or overindulges in a particular food, her breast milk is affected. The quality and quantity of milk is dependent upon her diet. What a woman eats not only meets her nutritional needs, but enables her to produce milk. By not taking the proper care in feeding herself well, a nursing mother may end up doing her own body a lot of harm by not providing the proper nourishment for herself. Her baby may do okay, but the mother will suffer because her body will make milk production the first priority and the balance of nutritional needs will not be met.

Water and Calories

In order to have a healthy diet while nursing, a mother should increase her water intake by one quart per day, so that she's drinking between 2.5 and 3 quarts a day. Part of the water a nursing woman drinks goes directly into milk production. Conversely, too much water can create a reduction in the production of milk, so balance is the key.

For calories, the average intake should be around 2,500 calories per day and more if she is planning to nurse past three months. Many women are tempted with sweets, especially during the time they are nursing. But, by eating healthy foods and sticking to low-fat, high quality proteins, a woman will be doing both herself and her baby a favor.

Spreading caloric intake over five or six meals a day, drinking water during the "snack" periods and eating fruit, low calorie dairy and fresh vegetables will greatly benefit both mother and child. A level and regular caloric intake helps to keep milk secretion sufficient for feedings and for milk production. It is also a good idea to continue taking prenatal vitamins to maintain the body's supply of folic acid which is vital to the development of the baby's nervous system. Taking B vitamins is also a good idea, especially since birth control pills accentuate a vitamin B9 deficit.

And We Repeat...

While these facts are well known and stated often, they bear repeating. Stay away from tobacco - nicotine passes directly through the breast milk to the baby and refrain from alcohol, which also passes directly through the breast milk to the baby. Medications can and often do present danger and problems for lactating mothers and babies. Check with your physician as to which medications are safe to use while breastfeeding and then refrain from all others.

Life-giving water, healthy food choices and wise eating can address a nursing mother's needs and those of her baby.

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