How many times did you hear, “You’re eating for two” while you were pregnant? Now that your baby is here, if you’re breastfeeding him or her, the two of you are still sharing meals. Do you ever wonder if you’re eating plan includes the right things to make good breast milk?
Good news: the quality of your breast milk won’t change with each meal you eat—or miss. The bad news is that if you’re NOT eating the nutrients you need in order to make that perfect baby food, your inner milk-machine will steal those nutrients from your own body. Yikes! So it pays to be eating right to feed yourself what both you and your baby need. (For ideas on how to make your food dollar stretch farther, download this free cookbook.)
What does your breast-fed baby need you to eat? Take this quiz and find out.
(1) True or False: You need to drink milk to make milk.
False. Your body will find the ingredients for good breast milk in your food or in your body’s reserves. However, milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products do make a good source of calcium and vitamin D for strong bones (yours and your baby’s). They also deliver necessary protein and B vitamins. Can’t eat dairy? You can also find calcium in green leafy vegetables, and protein and B vitamins in meats.
(2) True or False: Breastfeeding mothers need more calories per day than non-breastfeeding mothers.
True. However, not all calories are created equal. Get your calories from “superfoods.” Avoid “empty” calories that come with none of the nutrients that you and your baby need. Instead, choose complex carbs such as whole grains (like whole-wheat bread, cereal, brown rice) and vegetables (like beans, squash, broccoli, carrots). Got a sweet tooth that won’t quit? Fruits (like oranges, apples, berries, plums) give you sweetness along with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
(3) True or False: You should avoid drinking water to prevent water-weight gain.
False. Drink lots of water. Drink until you’re not thirsty. (Your urine should be a pale yellow.) Most people don’t drink enough water daily, and nursing mothers need more than most people. Whenever possible, sip water while you’re feeding your baby. It’s a good reminder to take care of yourself as you take care of your child.
(4) True or False: The flavor of your breast milk will change with what you eat.
True. While the nutrient levels of breast milk stay steady, the flavor will reflect what you have eaten . But that’s usually okay. Your baby has been sampling your favorite flavors in your amniotic fluid within your womb. (Isn’t that wild?) So your baby is already familiar with pizza or tacos or spring rolls—whatever you enjoyed while pregnant. Your baby will let you know if those flavors taste yucky now . . . just like your child will do when you eventually fix him or her some table food.
(5) True or False: What’s healthy for pregnant moms to eat is also healthy for breastfeeding moms.
True. If you followed the dietary advice of your doctor and your friendly consultants at Choices Pregnancy Center while you were pregnant, then simply keep it up! Also true: What’s unhealthy for pregnant moms is also unhealthy for breastfeeding moms. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking medications will still be bad news for your breast-fed baby. Check with your doctor if you need to take something for a cold.
If you want some dietary suggestions based on your own unique situation, come by our office and we’ll help you figure out what works best for you.
Do you have food advice for other breastfeeding moms?
Do certain flavors in your milk make your baby fussy?
What have you learned that others would like to know?