Breastfeeding is an incredible opportunity for moms to bond with their newborns. It’s a unique connection you’ll never experience with anyone else, but the health benefits your baby receives from your milk will depend on your diet. What you eat could replace essential nutrients with lesser compounds, which is why new moms must fuel their bodies with healthy food.
Check out the top 10 best foods for breastfeeding. You’ll thrive on a healthier diet, and your baby will get all the nutrients they need to grow throughout their first few years of life.
1. Beans and Legumes
Moms want the best for their babies, so when a myth begins about a specific food being bad for infants, it spreads like wildfire. Beans and legumes are among the best-known off-limits foods for new moms. It was once a concern for mothers to eat foods that cause gas because doctors thought the fiber might pass through to the infants and upset their GI tract.
Instead of avoiding beans and legumes, embrace them as an excellent source of protein and healthy carbs. They’ll give your body the energy it needs for milk production and pass along more protein to your baby. The fiber won’t upset your child’s stomach because they aren’t eating the whole food sources yet.
Nursing moms also need to increase their calorie intake because your body works overtime to produce milk. That’s where nuts can help. Peanuts, almonds and cashews are excellent sources of natural calories. Snack on them while burping your baby or blend them into your sauces and meals.
If you add nuts to your diet, keep an eye on your baby. Some infants have nut sensitivities and may develop symptoms like diarrhea or eczema if they can’t tolerate what passes through your milk.
Avocados are nutrient-dense and useful in a variety of recipes. You may already be one of the many people who love them. Even if you only add a little bit of avocado to your diet, your baby will benefit. Each avocado contains many critical nutrients for infant development, such as:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
When you consider how folate aids in brain function and potassium regulates blood pressure levels, avocados pack a powerful punch in an infant’s diet.
4. Leafy Greens
Don’t forget to add plenty of leafy greens to your diet after you give birth. Food like kale is rich in calcium, providing 179 mg per cup, or 18% of your daily calcium intake. Babies need calcium to grow, which is why they require 200 mg each day when they’re younger than six months old. Although they can’t eat whole foods yet, your newborn will get the calcium they need through breast milk.
Mushrooms contain the polysaccharide beta-glucan nutrient, which is a lactogenic agent that aids in milk production. You don’t need to eat mushrooms with every meal, but they’re a helpful addition to sauces and casseroles. Check out a few new recipes and try the most delicious options to add variety to your diet.
6. Chia Seeds
People have found new ways to eat chia seeds for centuries. They’re wonderful in smoothies and pudding, providing an array of nutrients no matter how you enjoy them. Nursing moms often struggle to feel full after a meal or snack because their bodies burn through calories quickly. Chia seeds have high levels of fatty acids, which help you feel full long after eating.
Infants also benefit from fatty acids in breast milk. They’ll use these natural fats to moderate their immune functions and reduce inflammation in their gut. See which chia seed recipes you like best or add a little chia oil to your next salad so you and your baby receive these benefits.
Any new mothers struggling with milk production should start eating a little barley. It is a galactagogue that increases your milk supply by using polysaccharides to stimulate the serum prolactin that starts making milk.
The only time it wouldn’t be safe to eat barley is if you have a celiac disease or other gluten sensitivity. Newborns don’t have the same allergies or sensitivities because celiac diseases develop well after infancy, once your baby starts eating whole foods.
8. Dark Chocolate
Sometimes milk production isn’t as high as it should be because of a lack of blood circulation. Dark chocolate can help with that. Eating a few bites every day increases the nitric oxide in your bloodstream, allowing oxygen to flow more easily through your body. More oxygen and blood flow means more breast milk, which can make all the difference to your baby’s dietary regimen.
Both mom and baby need protein to fuel their metabolism. Eating plenty of beef and meat will keep your protein intake in a healthy range. It also gives your body more protein for your milk, so your baby always gets what they need to grow.
Salmon is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, so feel free to bake filets for dinner or add this fish to your salads. This kind of fat aids the nervous system development as your infant grows. If they continue to eat food high in omega-3 fatty acids when they transition to whole foods, it will still provide these benefits as they begin to walk and even enter preschool.
Consult Your Doctor
These are the 10 best foods for breastfeeding, so see how you can include them in your daily diet. Always consult your doctor or pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns. Together, you’ll figure out how you can use your diet to provide what your infant needs.