For the first six months of an infant’s life, breast milk is the only natural food. Although you can start weaning your child after he is six months old, your baby should receive breast milk until he/she is 12 months old. The diet of the mother will help to determine the quality of the breast milk.
This otherwise nutritious food might be deficient in certain nutrients if the mother fails to eat balanced healthy meals.
A normal well-balanced healthy diet helps mothers to meet their normal nutritional requirement. Nursing mothers need extra 300 to 400 calories during this period. It might not be possible to calculate calories in a meal, nonetheless having adequate amounts of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, milk and dairy products, fish and lean meat could help to provide sufficient nourishment to your baby.
Nursing mothers should have at least five servings of vegetables and fruits per day. Sometimes after delivery, women suffer from constipation. Foods rich in dietary fibers are especially beneficial for women for easing bowel movement. Studies have shown that nursing mothers should consume adequate amounts of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish, fish oil, egg yolk and flaxseed. These essential fatty acids help in the baby’s brain development.
If you think that certain nutrients might not be present in adequate amounts in your diet, you can take vitamin and mineral supplements. It is advisable to consult your physician before taking any dietary supplement. Vegans might need calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and iron supplements. Foods fortified with vitamins could help to meet nutritional requirements.
Drink plenty of water
Nursing moms should drink plenty of water. Since water forms a significant part of the breast milk, you should drink at least ten glasses of water each day. You can increase your fluid intake by consuming fruit and vegetable juices, soups and broths.
Foods to avoid
Nursing mothers should stay away from foods rich in saturated fats. You should avoid foods cooked in hydrogenated oils. You should limit intake of foods and beverages containing caffeine such as coffee, chocolate and carbonated beverages. Alcohol consumption could adversely affect your baby’s health.