Tips for a Healthy Breastfeeding Diet

By Hannah Oakes

March 25, 2019

Hannah Oakes is a Registered Nurse with over 4 years experience working with parents and their children. She is a Mama Coach in Vancouver and the North Shore and a mama of 2! She offers prenatal education, newborn and post-partum support, lactation counselling, infant and child CPR/choking workshops, and sleep education and coaching based on science, empathy and support. She is passionate about providing education and support tailored specifically to each family to help make motherhood easier.

If you are a breastfeeding mama it is important to try to eat as healthy a diet as possible.

Breast milk is very nutritious and contains all of the nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life and although mamas bodies are able to keep a balance amongst the macronutrients in their breast milk, at a certain point of malnutrition, the nutrients required for your baby won’t be available in your milk. Additionally, breastfeeding can increase your energy demands and appetite so it is important to meet this demand with a healthy balanced diet.

But what exactly does this look like in your day to day life?

Katie Reitsma is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who specializes in Motherhood Nutrition based on scientific research and traditional knowledge. She encourages her breastfeeding clients to eat a variety of healthy food until they feel satisfied –

“A breastfeeding diet should mimic a pregnant one. Protein requirements, for example, are almost identical for pregnant women and for lactating women. A woman’s nutrients will ultimately be used to nourish her baby via breast milk but the body cannot produce in the milk what it currently doesn’t have so it’s important to keep up with a plentiful, nutritious diet. On a plate, this would translate into roughly half of the meal being plant based carbohydrates, a quarter as healthy fats, and a quarter of it as protein. Examples of carbohydrates are: leafy greens, rice, sourdough bread, oats, steamed vegetables, raw vegetables and fruit. Protein and fat are often found together. An egg is half protein and half fat, for example. Some examples of proteins and fat to fill the other two quarters of the plate are: free range eggs, antibiotic free meat, wild fish, grass fed butter, nuts and seeds, quinoa, olives, avocados, coconut oil and olive oil. Click here to see examples and to learn about how to help Boost Your Breastmilk!”

When you have a baby there may be times when eating is the last thing on your mind, or you simply forget to eat. But you can keep up your energy levels by eating healthy foods. Head to Katie’s Instagram for easy snack ideas for breastfeeding mama, baby, and toddlers.

What about Supplements?

Despite your best attempts at providing yourself with a nutritious diet, there may be a need to supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, iron, calcium, zinc, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. It is recommended that breastfeeding women continue to take their prenatal supplement until the package is finished and then discuss with a doctor, a Registered Dietitian, or a Registered Nutritionist what extra vitamins and minerals they may need in their diet. This is especially important if you do not eat dairy or animal products.

Drink plenty of water

Mamas tend to get very thirsty when breastfeeding.  Breast milk is made up of 80% water so make sure you drink enough to quench your thirst and stay hydrated.  Keeping a big glass of water close by when you’re breastfeeding can really help.

Other Considerations

Some breastfed babies may be sensitive to a particular food you have eaten and react with symptoms such as gasiness and fussiness, skin rashes or changes in babies stool. If your baby has an obvious reaction every time you eat a certain food, you can try eliminating that food from your diet. It is always best, though, to ensure you discuss any symptoms your baby may be experiencing with a health professional such as a Doctor, Lactation Consultant, Registered Dietitian or Registered Nutritionist to ensure they are not being caused by something other than your diet. Caffeine, alcohol, and mercury found in fish can also affect breast milk and baby and are important to limit in a breastfeeding diet.

If you have any questions about breastfeeding and diet, please don’t hesitate to contact a Mama Coach in your area. We are all breastfeeding consultants and counsellors and can help.

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