One of the great things about breast milk is that it meets your baby's nutritional needs even if you're not eating well. However, even if your baby isn't harmed by any dietary insufficiencies, that does not mean that your own health won't suffer. You must make sure that you are getting enough vitamins and nutrients because you will need high levels of energy in order to meet the demands of caring for your new baby. A general list of recommended foods that you should focus on consuming whilst breastfeeding include the following:
• Water - Drink lots of water; you will need to produce enough milk without getting dehydrated. Steer clear of carbonated water though, as it contains unnecessary amounts of sodium.
• Whole grain - Breastfeeding mothers often become constipated; drinking sufficient amounts of water together with eating whole grain products and fibers will help you get rid of this problem.
• Fruits - Mothers generally have a problem with finding the time to fix a proper meal for themselves. Fruits make for a great quick fix that can help you cope for an hour or two until you can prepare a proper meal.
• Spicy foods - Some mothers believe that eating spicy foods causes stomach pain for their babies, while others do not notice a difference. Monitor your baby the day after you've had spicy food; if they are uncomfortable, that could be the reason.
• Gassy foods - If your baby suffers from gasses or stomach pains it may be better to avoid foods that are known to increase gas, such as broccoli and cabbage. If you believe your baby is colicky, consider excluding all dairy products from your diet as some research shows that this may help. Consult with your baby's doctor before making this decision.
• Fish - While fish in general is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, some types of fish are known to have high levels of mercury. It is recommended that you continue to avoid the same types of fish you were avoiding while you were pregnant.
• Caffeine - Most mothers who experience fatigue will go for a cup of coffee to help them boost their energy levels. While most experts agree that some caffeine is not likely to affect the baby, they confer that large amounts may result in your baby becoming active and unable to settle down. If you choose to have coffee, have it in moderation! Remember that black tea, chocolate, and soft drinks also contain caffeine.
• Alcohol - Babies will not get drunk or be affected if you have a drink; however there are some other disadvantages to consuming alcohol whilst breastfeeding or taking care of your baby, you may not be able to respond to your baby properly after drinking alcohol (this applies to dads too). It is therefore advisable not to sleep next to your baby after you have had a drink or two. Some studies have also shown that your reflex (milk production) may be impaired after drinking alcohol. If you do want to have a glass of wine or drink, it is advisable to have it at least two hours before breastfeeding.
• Check your iron levels - Even if you took prenatal vitamins whilst you were pregnant, you might not need them now that you've had your baby. However, many health professionals recommend continuing a prenatal supplement, which has extra iron that is good whilst nursing. However, supplement vitamins are not a substitute for a good diet.
• Dieting while nursing - The key to dieting whilst breastfeeding is that you should lose the weight gradually by combining a healthy, low-fat diet with moderate exercise. Rapid weight loss can pose a danger to your baby because it releases toxins that are normally stored in your body fat, and therefore an increasing amount of these contaminants will wind up in your milk. If you're losing more than 1kg a week after the first six weeks, you will need to take in more calories.
Also remember that breastfeeding helps to deplete the fat deposited during pregnancy. Many new moms find that their weight just seems to fall off while they're nursing. Give yourself ten months to a year to return to your pre-pregnancy weight. Remember that limiting what you eat in the early weeks of lactation may reduce your milk supply.