When it comes to nourishing a newborn baby, nothing compares to the benefits of breast-feeding.
When breast-feeding, mothers should be aware of an important fact. Everything they eat and drink will find its way, in some form, into the breast milk they feed their babies. Elaine Alexander, MSN, RNC-OB, patient care director, NICU and postpartum, at Inova Alexandria Hospital in Virginia, and her team work with new mothers to help them gain the knowledge they need to care for themselves and promote healthy development in their babies.
Alexander shared some tips on good eating habits for breast-feeding mothers:
WHAT SHOULD BREAST-FEEDING MOTHERS EAT?
They should consume the same food groups as when they were pregnant:
– Salmon and other fish, which are rich with DHA, a nutrient key to promoting healthy development of a babys nervous system.
– Dairy products, which provide bone-strengthening vitamin D and protein, B vitamins and calcium.
– About 2-3 servings of protein daily, from lean beef, eggs, beans and other legumes, which can increase iron. Too little iron can drain mothers energy levels.
– Fruit, whole grains and leafy green vegetables, which also provide needed vitamins, fiber and iron.
HOW SHOULD MOTHERS CHOOSE FOOD TO EAT?
Mothers should focus on fresh, unprocessed foods rich in iron, protein and calcium. In addition, mothers need approximately 300-500 more calories in their diets to increase their energy while providing food for their newborns.
WHAT FOODS SHOULD MOTHERS AVOID?
Exposure to excessive amounts of mercury through breast milk can pose a risk to a babys developing nervous system. Breast-feeding mothers can limit mercury by choosing seafood low in the substance, such as salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna and catfish.
No amount of alcohol intake by a nursing mother is considered safe for a breast-feeding newborn.
Additionally, breast-feeding mothers should monitor the babys reactions after eating. If something in the mothers diet is making the baby fussier than usual, breast-feeding mothers can avoid the food or drink for as much as week to see if it makes a difference in the babys behavior.
HOW MUCH LIQUID SHOULD A BREAST-FEEDING MOTHER DRINK?
While breast-feeding, moms should drink at least eight cups of water each day. Other good liquids include juice, milk, broths, herbal teas and soups. Breast-feeding mothers should limit intake of caffeinated drinks to no more than two to three glasses per day, as it may cause a baby to become irritated, cranky or sleepless.
SHOULD MOTHERS TAKE SUPPLEMENTS?
Breast-feeding mothers need to take a daily multivitamin containing 100% of the recommended dietary allowance for all essential vitamins and minerals, such as prenatal vitamins.
ARE THERE TIMES OF THE DAY BEST FOR MOTHERS TO EAT?
Mothers may feel extra hungry while breast-feeding. Eating small meals with healthy snacks between can keep hunger in check and energy levels high.