Successful breastfeeding can be a challenge, especially in the early days when you’ve just given birth and are learning this new skill while trying to recover. Fortunately, there are lots of steps that you can take to make it easier on yourself, and less taxing on your body. One of the best ways to help yourself achieve success is to be very intentional about the foods you eat while breastfeeding.
The foods you eat, and the foods to avoid while breastfeeding are numerous. It helps to be aware of how your food affects your milk supply before you give birth and enter the hazy newborn days. That way, you or your partner can prepare a kitchen full of helpful food in advance, to make the first days of breastfeeding so much easier.
Let’s break down some of the foods you should avoid, and other foods to eat while breastfeeding.
Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding
First, let’s cover some of the foods you should avoid while breastfeeding. After nine months of eating carefully to maximize nutrients for your baby, the last thing you want is a long list of foods that you shouldn’t eat! Fortunately, the list isn’t long, and most of it is pretty common-sense.
Fish that’s high in mercury
These days, most of the wild-caught fish we eat will contain some mercury, a common pollutant that can affect the human brain when consumed in large amounts. Avoid fish from the top of the food chain, which tend to absorb the mercury found in all their prey. These fish include king mackerel, tuna, marlin, shark, and swordfish.
Many women abstain from alcohol entirely during breastfeeding, but if you’re smart about timing and consumption, you may still be able to enjoy the occasional tipple. However, you should be aware that high levels of alcohol consumption have been tied to up to a 20% reduction in breast milk output.
Like alcohol, caffeine is carried through the breast milk and is ingested by your baby, whose body has a hard time processing it like an adult’s would. Caffeine can also compound in your baby’s body, causing irritability and sleep issues.
Highly processed foods
Producing milk regularly requires a lot of calories, preferably in the form of healthy, unprocessed foods that offer the nutrients your body and your child need to thrive.
Avoid highly processed foods with added sugars and unhealthy fats, which fill you up without offering many health benefits.
Foods to Eat While Breastfeeding
Research suggests that our food choices during breastfeeding influence our child’s dietary choices later on in life, so starting off well is important. Here are some of the foods you should be reaching for during breastfeeding.
Fatty, low-mercury fish
Fish has so many benefits for breastfeeding women, including omega-3 fatty acids that are critical to your infant’s neurological and ocular development. However, since fish often contains mercury that can harm your baby, it’s wise to stick to fatty fish that are low in mercury, and limit your consumption to 6 ounces a week. Canned salmon in particular is a great choice.
Your body needs protein in order to make milk that’s as nutritious as possible. Make sure every meal contains food that’s high in protein, like chicken, eggs, tofu, beans, and lentils.
Like the healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, your body needs healthy fats to support your milk production. The best fats for your body at this time come from natural, unprocessed sources like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables
Fruits and veggies that are high in fiber are great choices for breastfeeding moms. Each unique piece of fruit or veg has its own profile of vitamins and minerals that are essential to our health. However, the healthiest options combine these benefits with lots of fiber that keeps us feeling fuller for longer. Some good choices for fiber-rich fruits and veggies include apples, bananas, raspberries, carrots, beets, broccoli, and artichokes.
Find More Healthy Eating Resources at GenoPalate
At GenoPalate, our goal is to provide helpful guidance with recipes that are tailored to your particular genetic profile. When you’re breastfeeding, it’s always best to consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet. Ultimately, the goal should always be a nutritious, well-balanced diet that supports the health of both you and your baby.