Nutrition while breastfeeding

Nutrition needs remain important for mothers while breastfeeding.

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As a breastfeeding mother, you may wonder how the foods you eat will affect you and your baby’s growth and health. People may tell you that your baby gets everything you eat, which is not completely accurate. The foods you eat supply the energy you need to produce milk for the baby. You may need to eat an additional 330 to 400 calories per day to maintain your energy. Make these extra calories count; try a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat with a glass of milk.

You do not need to consume a special diet while breastfeeding. It is important to focus on making healthy choices for maintaining milk supply and energy as well. Try to eat a variety of foods, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly to reduce exposure to pesticide residue. Eating a variety of foods will change the taste of your breast milk, which exposes your baby to different flavors. This may make your baby more open to trying new foods once they start solids. In order to ensure the breastfeeding mother and baby are getting all the nutrients needed, it is a good idea to continue to take a prenatal vitamin throughout the time you are breastfeeding.

It also important to drink enough liquids in order to stay hydrated. Try to drink water before you actually feel thirsty. Make sure to drink more if your urine appears dark yellow. Try to have a glass of water nearby when you are feeding your baby. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water or other liquids every day. Be careful of juices and sugary drinks, as they are high in sugar and can sabotage efforts to lose baby weight. Also try to limit caffeine intake as it may lead to sleep problems for baby. Eating a healthy variety of foods is important to keep you and baby healthy.

Michigan State University Extension offers nutrition education and breastfeeding support to feeding mothers, their babies and their companions. Contact your local MSU Extension office to find support near you.

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