Nutrition and Breastfeeding

Final weeks of pregnancy

Make sure you have plenty of vitamin D and iron in your diet, because baby is storing them up to last through the early months of life.

Nutrition for Breastfeeding moms

When breastfeeding, moms need an extra 300 calories a day; a total of at least 1500 calories a day. Dieting is not recommended while breastfeeding. After the initial weight loss, you should eat to maintain your weight, and generally shouldn’t lose more than a pound a week.

Try to eat a variety of healthy foods. You will need extra protein, three servings of calcium-rich foods per day, and plenty of fluids. Your doctor may recommend that you continue to take prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding.

Foods to Avoid?

  • Food bacteria: during pregnancy, you are advised to avoid raw fish, unpasteurized cheeses, and lunch meats because of the risk of food-borne disease passing from you to the fetus. The good news is that these bacteria generally do not travel through breastmilk, so you can eat all these foods while breastfeeding.
  • “Fussy” foods: some people find that cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower cause gassy babies and some people believe spicy foods cause colic, but there’s no evidence. If baby seems fussy in response to what you eat, keep a diary that tracks: what you eat, what your activities are, and how baby acts. You may discover that activities or time of day is the culprit rather than the foods you eat. However, if it is a consistent response to certain foods, you may choose to minimize those while nursing.
  • Allergens: Be aware of signs of food sensitivity. If your baby has severe diaper rash or skin rashes (eczema), mucusy or bloody diarrhea, or excessive fussiness, consult your doctor, as this could be a sign that baby is allergic to something you are eating. The most common allergens in mom’s diet are cow’s milk, eggs, shellfish, wheat, and nuts, especially peanuts. If you have a strong family history of significant food allergies, consult with your care provider and baby’s care provider for advice specific to your situation.
  • Caffeine: Is fine in small doses, approximately 200 mg per day. Less than 1% of the caffeine you consume passes through to the breastmilk, so it should not affect baby. Many mothers say their babies are fussier on the days they drink caffeine, but sometimes that’s because they drink decaf at home, and drink caffeine when they’re out having a busy day at the mall – so, it may be over-stimulation that makes the baby fussy, not the caffeine.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol passes to the breastmilk in the same concentration as it is in the blood. So, after 1 drink, your milk is about .05% alcohol. Most experts say 1 drink in a day is reasonable for a breastfeeding mother. It’s best to time it so you feed your baby, then have the drink. In a few hours, when the baby needs to nurse again, the effects of the alcohol will be mostly worn off.
  • Tobacco: it is best not to expose your baby to any tobacco via smoking or other uses. However, if you do smoke, breastfeeding will benefit your baby, helping them be more resilient to the tobacco exposure.

Nutrition for Baby

In general, breastmilk meets every nutritional need of your baby for the first six months of life. There is no need to supplement with water, formula, or solid foods till six months.

For a while, iron supplements were believed to be necessary, but recent research has shown that a healthy, full-term baby rarely needs iron supplementation before six months of age. After 6 months, add in iron-fortified solid foods to baby’s diet.

Fluoride supplements may be recommended for babies 6 months to 3 years, if their main water supply is not supplemented with fluoride (most city water sources are).

Vitamin D supplements of 400 IU daily are recommended for all babies. (800 IU in the winter months in northern climates.)

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