Breastfeeding Diet Plan - Healthy Eating Tips and Ideas for Milk Production

Breastfeeding Diet Plan

Baby's bring joy and love as you've never before experienced. Unfortunately, none of that includes an instruction manual.

Many new mamas feel overwhelmed trying to figure out how to give their baby the best start. Rest assured, your instincts will guide you in the right direction. For everything else, tons of resources will provide you with essential information.

Here, we want to help make breastfeeding the ultimate experience that does not leave you stressed. Stressing will actually decrease your milk production.

Nursing your baby should provide them with all the nutrients they need to grow and strengthen your bond to one another. Creating a nutritious breastfeeding diet plan will make everything flow the way it's supposed to, literally. 

A Breastfeeding Diet Plan for Milk Production

Many factors go into lactation. Your dietary choices will directly affect both the quality and the quantity of your milk. Keep reading for help in developing the best postnatal diet menu plan.

Fluids

Most healthy adults need about 8 cups of water each day, which equals 64 ounces. Nursing mothers need more.

Just as athletes need to replace the fluid they lose through sweat, a breastfeeding mom needs to make up for the fluid loss through her milk. On average, you should take in about 32 extra ounces a day to make up for the fluid baby takes.

If you pump extra, drink a little more. Dehydration will quickly decrease your milk supply as your body goes into survival mode.

Caloric Intake

Food provides us with calories, an energy currency to generate our bodily processes. Lactation takes more work and requires us to increase our caloric intake.

Nursing mommas should increase calories by 300-500 according to typical standards. However, that does not hold true for everybody. This number only reflects a mother exclusively nursing her young baby.

It does not account for nursing twins, pumping extra milk, or exclusively nursing a large baby with a bigger appetite. You burn about 20 calories per ounce of milk you produce. This means, if the baby eats 30 ounces each day and you pump an additional 10, then you need 800 additional calories to keep up.

Keep this in mind if your milk production starts to decrease or you feel extra hungry and tired. If you do not know how much your baby takes from the breast, know that baby will eat about 2-3 ounces of breastmilk per pound of bodyweight each day.

You may wonder what this looks like in terms of real food. 500 calories look like:

  • Two lactation bars and 3/4 cups of blueberries
  • A bagel with 3 ounces of cream cheese
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 5 ounces of potato chips

As you can see, healthier choices give you more bang for your buck than binge snacks. Make these extra calories count by choosing nutrient-rich foods.

Nutrients

As you might guess, increasing your calories also means needing more of certain nutrients. Your body can only supply your baby with nutrients that it can access.

If you do not take in enough of the nutrients that make up your milk, then your body will extract it from your body's stores. As you grow weak from this happening, your supply will dwindle.

You can take a prenatal vitamin. However, your body tends to absorb more nutrients from food sources. Plus, some women feel belly discomfort from vitamin tablets.

Let's see which nutrients you need to increase in your diet.

Calcium

We often mention how fast children grow. But people tend to overlook what actually goes into this growth.

Your baby's bones need calcium more than they ever will during the rest of their life. Your milk contains about 10mg of calcium per ounce to meet your baby's needs.

Healthy sources of calcium include:

  • Salmon
  • Feta cheese
  • Kale
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Almonds

Eating these foods regularly will help you meet baby's calcium needs.

Protein

Your body uses protein to fuel milk production. Plus, since protein works to create and repair new cells, your little one will need a lot of this macronutrient.

Excellent sources of dietary protein include:

  • Chickpeas
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Halibut
  • Greek yogurt
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios

Protein intake for nursing mothers should be about 6.5 ounces of protein-rich food daily. 

Carbohydrates

You do not necessarily need more than the usual recommendation of 45-65% of your diet coming from carbs while nursing. But in an age of carb cutting, don't, or it can hurt your milk production.

Carbohydrates come from sugars. They fuel our bodies with immediate energy. Your milk provides the baby with carbs in the form of lactose, which fuels their cellular respiration and makes the milk taste appealing.

For optimal nutrition, get your carbs from healthy sources. Choose whole grain products rather than bleached flours and refined sugars.

Fats

Your breastmilk contains fat that will aid the baby in brain development and growth. Though you do not need to increase your fat intake, you should make sure you eat quality fats to pass on to your baby.

Omega fats provide DHA for crucial brain development. Choose fats from the following sources:

  • Avocados
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Olive oil

Choosing these over saturated fats may not necessarily help you produce more milk, but your milk will be of better quality.

Lactogenic Foods

Lactogenic foods increase milk supply. Now that you know some of the nutrients crucial for producing high-quality breast milk, let's look at dietary choices that will increase your supply.

Flaxseed and Sesame Seeds

These two plant seeds offer both nutrient value and increase to your milk supply. Nutritionally, they provide quality protein and healthy fats. They both also contain phytoestrogens.

Now, you may know that estrogen can decrease milk supply when delivered through your birth control pills. These phytoestrogens work a little differently to promote healthy breast tissue and increase lactation.

Rolled Oats 

These complex carbohydrates work in the body to indirectly increase milk supply. For starters, they contain saponins, which support the immune system with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Many women end up iron deficient after childbirth. Iron deficiency will decrease milk production.

Iron pills tend to make women feel sick and constipated. Rolled oats, however, contain high amounts of dietary iron, and they promote healthy digestion. They also stimulate hormone production from the pituitary gland to influence milk production.

Eating these in tasty treats will help get your milk supply and energy level boosted in no time.

Brown Rice

Another magic milk carb is brown rice. Eating this grain triggers the brain to stimulate a neurotransmitter called serotonin.

In turn, serotonin stimulates the hormone prolactin. Prolactin promotes milk production, therefore increasing your milk supply.

Brewer's Yeast

Brewer's use this fungus to make beer. But not to worry, it does not contain alcohol.

It does, however, contain protein, B vitamins, and essential minerals, making it sort of a superfood. It also contains chromium.

Many dairy farms use chromium to increase milk yield. Though it is still unclear as to how it boosts milk production, it also does so in humans, making it a great supplement if your milk supply gets low.

Fenugreek

For centuries, this herb has been used to increase milk supply in nursing mothers. People often make tea with its tincture.

Like sesame seed and flaxseed, it contains plant hormones that mimic female sex hormones. These stimulate milk production when you adequately drain the breasts first. However, fenugreek does not offer the same safety as simply eating flaxseed or sesame seeds.

You should take extra precautions if you suffer from asthma, hypothyroidism, or hypoglycemia. This herb also thins the blood and so you should not take it with blood thinners.

Alfalfa

This leaf provides many amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to support your health. It also contains estrogen-like chemicals that stimulate the pituitary gland to improve milk production. Alfalfa sprouts taste great on a salad and allow you a tastefully healthy serving of veggies.

Garlic

This flavorful bulb, garlic offers many health benefits, including strengthening the immune system, improving blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and lowering the risk of heart disease. Adding it to the diet for breastfeeding mothers also increases milk supply. 

One theory as to how this happens is simply that babies enjoy the flavor. This means that they suck more intensely and avidly at the breast.

As the baby stimulates the nipple, your body releases hormones that tell the brain to produce more milk. Interestingly enough, it works on the principle of supply and demand. 

So, if you suspect that your reason for low milk supply might stem from the baby not suckling enough, try eating more garlic. Worst case scenario, your food will taste better.

Create a Healthy Breast Feeding Meal Plan

Creating a nutritious breastfeeding diet plan will ensure that baby grows healthy without compromising you. This will give you the energy you need to produce milk and take care of your little one.

Make sure you drink enough water, take in enough calories, eat a variety of nutrients, and choose foods that boost your milk supply. Shop with us for nutritious and delicious milk boosters!

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