The first and basic reason to take care of your diet when you breastfeed that you are next to pregnancy, one of the times in the life of a woman of greater nutritional requirement.
How important it is to eat well in breastfeeding
“It is not about being overwhelmed by proposing a complicated diet – advises Marta Díaz, coordinator of the Lactation Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics -, I always recommend that common sense prevail. But it is true that improper feeding can negatively interfere with breastfeeding That’s why there are certain things to consider, ”warns our advisor.
The reason is clear: you are feeding your baby, you are giving your best, and that means an effort for your body. But how to meet those needs, yours and your child’s? Here we tell you.
If you breastfeed you need more calories
Breastfeeding means a higher caloric expenditure. To satisfy it, it has been calculated that you will need about 500 extra calories. It is an approximate figure, because it depends on factors such as maternal weight and the amount of physical exercise you do, but it is a basis to consider.
Therefore, if under normal conditions the diet has to provide about 2,300 calories, during breastfeeding it should reach 2,800.
Don’t believe that doing so will cost you a lot; Normally when breastfeeding you are hungry. “The agency sends us signs of their needs,” says Dr. Marta Díaz.
Five servings a day of fruit and vegetables
The requirements of some vitamins increase. This is the case of C, A, D, E, B1, B2 and folic acid. However, unless there is a specific problem, you will not need any pharmacological supplement. Mind you, make sure your contribution is not lacking in your diet. Now more than ever, remember to take the five daily servings, between vegetables and fruits. Better if they are fresh and seasonal.
Dairy products also contain vitamins A, D, B1 and B2. On the other hand, there are two vitamins that are scheduled as a direct supplement to the baby, which are D and K.
A varied diet is a balanced diet
Following a healthy and balanced diet is basic. “Today our advice is: the fewer restrictions, the better, because with the variety we get good nutrition,” says the doctor.
Another of its recommendations: we should not avoid foods with a strong flavor (such as celery or asparagus) for fear of changing the taste of milk. Even if it were, it would be positive, because when the time comes to introduce complementary feeding your baby will be more accustomed to accepting new tastes.
The same goes for foods that usually cause allergies, the latest studies conclude that restricting them does not prevent future allergies in the child. The only exception is if your child has manifested atopic dermatitis, in this case it is recommended that you remove some foods from your diet, such as nuts or fish.
Another thing is that your baby develops an intolerance to some nutrient, such as cow’s milk proteins. If you notice that after breastfeeding you have vomiting, diarrhea or skin rashes, you should consult your pediatrician to assess whether you should stop drinking this type of milk while breastfeeding.
Iodine, very important in breastfeeding
It should not be missing in your diet in any way, because it plays an important role in the baby’s brain development.
Now you need 250 micrograms of iodine a day. To cover them you must ensure a daily supply of half a liter of milk (or dairy derivative), cook with iodized salt (consumption of approximately 2 grams per day is recommended) and the intake of blue fish two or three times a week.
In addition, blue fish is rich in omega 3 acids, with a beneficial effect on the child’s neurological development. Of course, opt for blue fish of medium or small size, such as sardine or mackerel, since those of large size (tuna, emperor …) may have mercury contamination.
Following these recommendations should be sufficient, but in some cases a supplement of this nutrient is required, so consult your doctor.
To breastfeed, your body must be hydrated
Breast milk is composed of 85% -90% water, so you will understand that being well hydrated is vital. Anyway, don’t get overwhelmed, you don’t need to be drinking all day! With about two liters of water a day is enough (although it also depends on whether you exercise, etc.).
Luckily, also in this your body plays in your favor: soon you will see that breastfeeding makes you thirsty. It is because of the hormone oxytocin. “That is why we recommend that the mother be guided by her needs and that nothing be imposed,” explains Dr. Marta Díaz.
If you breastfeed, you need a good supply of calcium and iron
You will need more calcium. During pregnancy and lactation your body loses a little and, although after these periods it has been found that the levels stabilize naturally, it is generally recommended to increase the contribution by about 700 milligrams daily.
Dairy, legumes and canned fish are rich in calcium.
You will also need a good supply of iron. In this case to a lesser extent, because the lack of menstruation during pregnancy and lactation (the main cause of loss of the mineral in women) helps to maintain your reserves.
Even so, don’t forget him. Iron-rich foods that you should include in your diet are, among others, anchovies, sardines, clams, meats, eggs, whole grains, legumes, spinach or chard.
In addition, if you take them in the same meal with foods rich in vitamin C (such as citrus) you will facilitate iron absorption.
During breastfeeding you should avoid the following foods:
Caffeine: It is advised to limit your consumption to 300 milliliters of coffee daily. Also, keep in mind the summation effect of other drinks with caffeine or theine, or chocolate, which also contains caffeine (although chocolate is recommended in the postpartum, without abusing, because it elevates the mood).
Large blue fish: Like the emperor or bluefin tuna. It is better to avoid them and choose instead small blue fish (sardine, anchovy, mackerel …) because large fish may have accumulated mercury from marine pollution.
Alcohol: In this case the doctor advises zero consumption.
Nutritional supplements in special cases
There are some special situations in which your doctor may give you a supplement. If you are a vegetarian, you will surely need a contribution of vitamin B12, which is only present in foods of animal origin (its deficit can have an impact on the health of the baby).
Also check your iron and calcium levels. If you have lactose intolerance, you must ensure the correct supply of calcium on the other hand, so that the baby does not lack and your bones do not suffer. Foods rich in this mineral are fish, nuts or legumes. But in this case you probably need to supplement it, ask your gynecologist and the child’s pediatrician.