Nutrition & Breastfeeding Guidance for New Moms
In honor of National Breastfeeding Month, and while we firmly believe FED IS BEST, we wanted to provide a few additional resources for breastfeeding and pregnant mamas that they may not have thought of before. Fellow Navy spouse and Registered Dietician, Sarah Coleman, found that as a first-time mom there was so much to learn about breastfeeding and how important it is for moms to get proper nutrition. She created Mother Nurture Nutrition to help guide new mothers through pregnancy, the fourth trimester, and the newborn period. Check out her best tips below!
Many breastfeeding parents have lots of questions about their diets while breastfeeding. While there’s plenty of information available on the internet and social media, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused by conflicting information. Furthermore, these sources are not always validated and research-based. Our bodies go through so much while carrying, birthing, and feeding our babies. Yes, your diet is important for adequate milk supply and composition, but it’s often turned into a much bigger deal than it actually is! A healthy diet while breastfeeding is just as important as a healthy diet throughout your life. Here are a few simple tips to help you eat well throughout your breastfeeding journey:
• Most breastfeeding parents need about 300-400 extra calories per day (CDC, 2022). This is affected by many things though, which can include your activity level, the extent of breastfeeding, and exclusivity of breastfeeding.
• Focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats.
• Drink enough water throughout the day to quench your thirst – usually about 6-8 cups per day.
• Also, it can be beneficial to work with a dietitian or your physician to determine if you should continue taking your prenatal multivitamin or additional vitamins based on your diet. This can be particularly important for breastfeeding parents who are vegetarian or vegan.
• There is no evidence that shows milk-boosting galactagogues actually increase milk supply (Cochrane, 2020). Take caution when adding anything in excess to your diet or when starting supplements. These are always great to discuss with a healthcare provider.
• Enjoy caffeine in moderation. The CDC recommends 300mg or less of caffeine per day (citation), which means you can safely enjoy 2-3 cups of coffee while breastfeeding. Cheers to that because it’s definitely needed!
• Flavors from the foods you eat can be transferred to your breastmilk (Spahn et al, 2019). This is just another reason why eating a varied diet can be so important! Babies who are introduced to a variety of foods during pregnancy and lactation appear to be more likely to consume a variety of foods throughout life. Here’s to hoping for fewer dinner table battles in the future!
For more information or if you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Registered Dietitian in your area!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, May 17). Maternal diet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/maternal-diet.html
Milk boosters (galactagogues) for mothers breastfeeding their healthy infants born at term. (n.d.). Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.cochrane.org/CD011505/milk-boosters-galactagogues-mothers-breastfeeding-their-healthy-infants-born-term
Spahn, J. M., Callahan, E. H., Spill, M. K., Wong, Y. P., Benjamin-Neelon, S. E., Birch, L., Black, M. M., Cook, J. T., Faith, M. S., Mennella, J. A., & Casavale, K. O. (2019). Influence of maternal diet on flavor transfer to amniotic fluid and breast milk and children's responses: a systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 109(Suppl_7), 1003S–1026S. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy240