There is absolutely no formula in the world that can compete with the nutritional value of breast milk. Your body has specially created a milk rich in the appropriate amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, digestive enzymes and hormones. Breast milk also contains antibodies from the mother that will provide the baby with resistance to infections, ensuring that the baby is as healthy as possible.
While there are no set rules that your breastfeeding diet should follow, there are a number of things you must keep in mind to maintain a healthy and consistent milk supply. Just as in pregnancy, your body’s first priority will be catering properly to your baby’s needs. If your diet is deficient, it will be your own body that suffers more than your breast milk. As a new mother you need to be in the best condition possible. Approximately an average of 300 calories a day will be used to produce breast milk, per day.
As breast milk is compromised of mostly water, it is unsurprising that you will need to drink additional fluids. It is difficult to speculate a precise amount of water that is required for breastfeeding, as it is something that varies amongst mothers – the best bet is to follow thirst. If you are concerned that you are not consuming enough water, aim for 10 glasses of water per day and make it a habit to have a glass of water nearby whenever nursing. Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, because they will dehydrate you. In addition, caffeine is a drug that can influence your baby’s metabolism. While less than 1% of the caffeine will enter your baby’s body, the symptoms can include: irritation, aggravation and sleeplessness. It is recommended to consume less than 300mg per day of caffeine, or just a couple of cups of coffee daily.
Nursing mothers require between 1800-2500 calories daily to guarantee breast milk production. This will also provide enough energy for the mother to go about her daily routines. It is advisable to have three main meals and then two snacks – as nursing mothers are frequently up throughout the night, spreading the meals out allows the mother to have a constant supply of energy. Where possible vary the meals you’re consuming, as it will help ensure that all the required nutrients and minerals are present in your diet. A balanced diet compromised of 50% fruit and vegetables, 25% protein and 25% carbohydrates can be taken as a rough guide. Consume lean quality proteins such as chicken, salmon, tofu and nuts. Healthy fats and oils are particularly important for the baby’s brain development – the oils found in nuts, fish, avocado and olive oil are all great options. Calcium is also very important and it is suggested you take three servings of calcium daily. Dairy products are an obvious source of calcium, but if you are avoiding dairy then you can find a considerable amount of calcium in prepared orange juice or calcium supplements.
Many mother’s worry about the affects of their diet on their baby. It is unlikely that particular foods in your diet will be causing gas in your baby. Your body has been designed to make the absolutely best possible milk for your baby.