world breastfeeding week

Nutrition for Mothers who are Breastfeeding

Parents of newborns face a lot of decisions and commitments when it comes to raising a happy and healthy child. One of the first and most important decisions is providing the best nutrition for their child.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggest that babies start tasting foods long before their first spoonful of solid foods. According to researchers at the Monell Center in Philadelphia,a babies begin to taste flavors from their mother’s diet through breast milk.

As a follow up to our blogs in support of World Breastfeeding Week in this blog we discuss nutrition for mothers who are breastfeeding; and how they can get the most benefit for themselves and their babies.

Breastfeeding requires extra calories, protein, vitamins and minerals – more than what your body required before and even during your pregnancy. The exact number of calories depends on how much you are nursing and it varies for every mother. The more you nurse the more calories you need for optimal health.

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet with variety of foods from each of the six food groups (Qatar Dietary Guidelines) in moderation will give your body what it needs to support your health while you are breastfeeding.
  • Extra calories that your body needs at this time should come from nutritious foods from all six food groups such as low fat dairy, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts, lean meats and fish. This includes a daily intake consisting of:
    • At least three servings of low fat dairy foods for adequate calcium and vitamin D intake.
    • Three servings of vegetables that should include at least one serving of dark green or orange vegetables.
    • At least two servings of fruits and limit juice to only one cup a day of 100% fruit juice.
    • At least three servings of whole grain bread, cereal, or pasta;
    • At least two to three servings of legumes and nuts, meat, fish, or poultry.
  • If you notice that your baby is cranky after you eat certain food, stop eating that food for at least three days and try it again later or when you baby is older.

Just like with extra calories from foods, when you are breastfeeding your body requires extra water as well. Drink approximately 8-12 cups (240 ml per cup) caffeine-free drinks per day. A good rule of thumb is to have a glass of water every time you nurse your baby to keep your body hydrated.