Nutrition for breastfeeding moms

A nursing mother’s nutrition is important for both mother and child.

Breastfeeding can be a wonderful way to bond with your new baby. The USDA, states that breastfeeding is best for babies because breast milk provides the nutrition and antibodies that help the baby needs to stay healthy. Breastfeeding requires resources from the mother’s body and proper maternal nutrition can help supply necessary nutrients to keep moms healthy.

Breastfeeding mothers should focus “nutrient dense foods”. In the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, the USDA describes nutrient density in relation to a food's caloric content. Foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and low in calories are considered nutrient dense. Foods like spinach, carrots, apples, oranges and dried beans are considered nutrient dense because they have high amounts of nutrients relative to the amount of calories they contain. French fries, candy, baked goods, and processed snack foods have a low nutrient density. They have fewer nutrients and a higher amount of fat and calories.

Nursing moms should also focus on eating the appropriate amount of foods from each food group. Food groups include the Fruit Group, the Vegetable Group, the Grain Group, the Protein Foods Group and the Dairy Group. The average breastfeeding mother needs two cups of fruit, three cups of vegetables, eight ounces of grains, with half of the grains being whole grain, six and a half ounces of protein, and three cups of dairy. In addition, half of the grains should be whole grains. Processed grains only have the kernel of a grain while whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, the bran and the germ. Remember, these recommendations are average amounts and all mothers should work individually with their doctor to make sure they are maintaining or losing the appropriate amount of weight for them. The USDA provides excellent nutritional information for breastfeeding mothers.

It is also important for breastfeeding mothers to get proper physical activity. Try to include 30 minutes a day or more of some type of activity that raises your heart rate. If you are pushed for time, shorter periods of ten minutes three times a day can add up to the target of 30 minutes a day.

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