Balanced Nutrition for the Breastfeeding Mom
Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mom and baby. Human milk contains the perfect combination of nutrients needed for infant growth and development while being easy to digest. While baby is receiving balanced nutrition with breast milk, it's important that as a breastfeeding mother, you eat balanced meals as well.
Consuming enough calories is important when breastfeeding. An extra 300 to 400 calories each day is still needed after pregnancy to keep up with increased energy needs. You can do this by simply adding a banana with 2 tablespoons peanut butter or Greek yogurt with granola and fruit between meals.
When adding extra calories to your day, it's important to choose nutrient-rich foods. While lactating, nutrition requirements for vitamins C and A, as well as protein, are increased. Fruits and vegetables like oranges, kale and peppers are good sources of vitamin C. Vitamin A can be found in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach. To increase protein intake, adding foods such as lean cuts of meat, poultry and pork, as well as pulses (chickpeas, lentils, dried peas and beans), eggs, fish, nuts and seeds are great options.
Besides focusing on nutritious foods, staying hydrated is equally as essential while breastfeeding. A good tip is to have a glass of water nearby while feeding baby as a reminder to drink enough fluid through the day. If you have difficulty drinking plain water, jazz it up with herbal teas and fruit infusions to make drinking water more enjoyable.
If you ever have difficulty breastfeeding, contact a lactation consultant at your local hospital and/or La Leche League (www.llli.org). Many nursing challenges have simple solutions, allowing you to breastfeed pain free and with ease.