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The nutritional link you shared with your baby during pregnancy continues when you breast-feed. Breast milk is your baby's perfect first food. A healthy diet while you are breast-feeding helps you to recover from childbirth and optimizes your health and ability to produce breast milk.
Most women find that if they follow their hunger cues, they will naturally eat more while they are breastfeeding. It is generally recommended that the breast-feeding mother eat 500 additional calories over her nonpregnant, non-nursing intake. This typically falls in the range of about 2,200 to 2,700 calories per day. The good news is that even with the added calories, postpartum weight loss usually occurs. Most women will lose about one to two pounds per month in the first six months after the birth of the baby. However, if a breast-feeding mother is overweight, a gradual weight loss of up to one pound per week appears safe and will not affect the quantity or quality of milk produced. A breast-feeding mother should have at least 1,800 calories per day and wait until after the first three weeks postpartum before actively trying to reduce her weight.
If you do choose to follow a low-fat diet, it is important to eat the right kinds of fat. Omega-3 fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are particularly important for baby's brain development and vision. Eating plenty of fish, flaxseed and walnuts will help to boost the level of DHA in your breast milk. Getting the proper extra intake of vitamins and minerals such as zinc calcium, magnesium, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin D, as well as enough protein, is important because deficiencies in your diet will be pulled from your body's stores. This is nature's way of making sure baby is getting the proper nutrition, even if mom isn't.
Drinking enough fluids is also important. Drink to satisfy your thirst. You can easily judge if you are drinking enough by watching the color of your urine. If you are drinking enough, your urine will be very pale yellow to almost clear. If your urine is yellow throughout the day you are probably not drinking enough water, and you need to make an effort to increase your fluid intake. Many moms find that keeping a sports bottle full of water near their favorite breast-feeding place at home is a good way to ensure they are drinking enough to compensate for the extra fluid demands of making breast milk.