Did you know you can get an amazing workout in while sitting in your loungewear? At Pumps for Mom, we are officially declaring that breastfeeding qualifies as one of America’s hottest workout trends. Your body uses between 450-500 calories each day to make enough breast milk to keep your baby full, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
When the body works so hard to feed a newborn, a hearty, healthy diet is more important than ever. Breastfeeding moms everywhere need to make sure they’re filling up on the best nutrients to strengthen their body and to ensure their little one gets the most nutritious breast milk. Read below to learn more about some of the best foods for breastfeeding moms, so you can give your baby the best nutrients for growth!
Salmon and other fatty fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids like DHA, which promote heart health for breastfeeding moms and encourages brain and nervous system development for growing infants. While most fish contain these nutritious fatty acids, breastfeeding moms need to steer clear of swordfish, mackerel and other fish with high levels of mercury. The Centers for Disease Control warns that high concentrations of mercury can limit proper cognitive development, so be sure to stick to fatty fish with omega-3s and look out for the baby’s growing brain.
Leafy Green Veggies
Spinach, kale, swiss chard, and other leafy green vegetables are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals that are good for you and especially good for your breast milk. While leafy greens may cause your breast milk to develop a green tint, they are also full of vitamin A, calcium, vitamin K, iron, vitamin C, and antioxidants. These vegetables can be eaten on their own or included in all of your favorite meals to give your breast milk a healthy boost.
Carbohydrates are an essential component to a breastfeeding diet. While you may be anxious to work off your pregnancy weight right after you give birth, remember you are still eating for two while you breastfeed. The complex carbohydrates found in brown rice and other whole-grain foods are full of B vitamins, which help turn carbs into energy, and fiber, which helps you feel full longer and aids in digestion. Don’t be scared of complex carbs–you’ll need the energy to get through ten feedings a day!
Oranges and other citrus fruits are great for nursing moms who need a burst of energy. The vitamin C found in these tasty fruits is essential for our bodies to absorb iron and helps keep energy levels up. Always have your hands full? Orange juice is also packed with vitamin C and is often fortified with calcium, so you can get your vitamin C boost on the go!
Breastfeeding moms have increased needs for protein and iron–both of which can be met by eating lean beef. Protein plays a significant role in building and repairing muscle tissue, and iron is necessary for keeping energy levels up. Lean beef can be used in countless recipes as a delicious source of protein and is an excellent way to fit other nutrients like zinc, iron, and B vitamins into an everyday diet. When your diet is balanced with a combination of lean protein, fruits, and veggies, not only is your body getting the healthy nutrients it needs to support you when you’re breastfeeding, but your little one also receives balanced and nutritious breast milk.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are an amazing source of protein for breastfeeding moms who stick to a vegan or vegetarian diet. These low-cost legumes are packed with folate, which is necessary for infant brain development, in addition to fiber and protein to keep mom full for longer. Add beans and lentils to soups, stews, and dips or enjoy them on their own for an easy source of nutrients for busy new moms.
Low-Fat Dairy Products
Calcium is an essential nutrient for everyone, but this mineral becomes especially crucial for new moms, as women lose around 3 to 5 percent of their bone mass when breastfeeding. Calcium can be found in a variety of low-fat dairy products including milk, yogurt, cheese. Consuming about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day help protect your bones as you breastfeed and give your little one a head-start on developing strong bones.
Sweet potatoes are a filling and nutritious vegetable that should be incorporated into every new mom’s breastfeeding diet. These versatile and tasty vegetables are full of vitamin A and and various other nutrients, like potassium, that breastfeeding moms and nursing babies need. Vitamin A plays a role in infant growth and is important for the development of good vision and a working immune system. Just one sweet potato provides the daily recommendation for vitamin A, so enjoy this colorful veggie with the knowledge that you’re looking out for your little one.
Avocados are a health food craze–and for good reason. These savory fruits are a wonderful source of healthy fats and can help moms feel full while providing tons of important vitamins and minerals like folate, potassium, and vitamins B, K, C, and E. Add avocado to your breakfast toast or atop a quick lunch salad for an extra boost for both you and your baby.
Other Tips: Go Organic and Drink Water
New moms should also lookout for foods that may be contaminated with pesticides, insecticides, and other chemicals, as these substances can pass to your little one through your breast milk. Buy organic fruits, vegetables, and meat products whenever possible, so you can be sure that unwanted chemicals don’t make their way into your baby’s body. In addition to shopping for organic produce, moms should also drink enough water throughout the day. Your body is working hard to make sure your baby is fed! Try to drink a glass of water at each feeding and throughout the day to prevent dehydration–your little one needs you at your best!
Breastfeeding can be exhausting–as if pregnancy, labor, and delivery weren’t enough. But you can do this! Include these foods in your breastfeeding diet so you have the energy you need for nighttime feedings, pumping, and everything in between.
If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed with breastfeeding, are ready for your partner to help with feedings, or are getting ready to return to work, then you may benefit from a breast pump! And did you know that you can get a breast pump at little to no cost through your health insurance? Pumps for Mom is here to help you through the process of getting a breast pump through insurance. Fill out our easy-to-use form to find out what breast pumps you qualify for immediately!