Getting the Right Nutrition While Breastfeeding
Maintaining your healthy eating habits while breastfeeding is as important as it was during pregnancy. Your food choices can help you improve the quality of your breastmilk, the quantity of your supply, and the resultant health of your baby for years to come. Staying well-nourished while breastfeeding is crucial because just like in pregnancy, during breastfeeding, your body will prioritize the baby. This means that if you are not taking in enough nutrients, your baby will use up what he needs, and you will be left depleted.
The below meal and snack ideas can help you to meet your intake of Vitamins A & C, Iron, Iodine, Choline, Vitamin D, calcium, and DHA – all nutrients that are important to pay attention to while breastfeeding.
- Vitamin A rich foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, fatty fish, squash, bell peppers, and cantaloupes.
- Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
- Iron rich foods include red meat, fish, eggs, spinach, fortified breakfast cereals, and fortified whole grains.
- Choline rich foods include eggs, peanuts, and dairy.
- Vitamin D rich foods include fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines), fortified dairy products , and egg yolks.
- Iodine rich foods include iodized salt, seaweed, tuna, eggs, and navy beans.
- DHA rich foods include fatty fish, eggs, and meat.
- Calcium is found in dairy products, some dark leafy greens, and fortified foods such as calcium-fortified orange juice.
- It is important to consume enough fluids to prevent dehydration and keep your body in tip top milk-making shape! Aim for at least thirteen 8 oz cups of fluids per day.
Selecting meals and snacks from the below listed options will help you choose foods that will increase your dietary intake of the above nutrients while maintaining a balanced diet.
- Option 1: Veggie and cheese omelet with oven roasted potatoes; berries
- Option 2: Breakfast sandwich: Whole grain bread or English Muffin with egg, cheese, and avocado; cantaloupe slices
- Option 3: Whole grain toast with peanut or other nut butter and apple slices; small cup of low-fat plain yogurt or glass of low-fat milk or non-dairy milk alternative
- Option 4: Yogurt parfait: Layer low-fat plain yogurt with berries, top with sprinkle of crushed nuts
- Option 5: Oatmeal with dried fruit and chopped nuts; small glass of low-fat milk or non-dairy milk alternative
- Option 1: ½ Tuna* sandwich made with olive oil mayo, celery, onion on whole grain bread or pita; side of vegetable soup with beans
- Option 2: Whole grain tortilla, black beans, salsa, shredded cheese. Dark leafy green salad.
- Option 3: Cooked lentils mixed with diced tomatoes, flaked canned salmon, and balsamic dressing.
- Option 4: Shredded chicken, leafy green salad, olive oil & vinegar, olives, feta cheese, shredded carrots, and tomatoes
- Option 5: Corn and black bean salad with diced avocado over romaine lettuce.
- Option 1: Chicken, turkey, or beef with sweet potato and broccoli
- Option 2: Chicken roasted with carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes (cut veggies into chunks, arrange on baking sheet around chicken, drizzle with olive oil, bake until chicken and veggies are cooked through)
- Option 3: Corn tortilla topped with black beans, baked cod, salsa and shredded cheddar
- Option 4: Stir fried chicken and vegetables over brown rice, quinoa, or farro
- Option 5: Broiled seasoned fish (salmon, cod), oven roasted squash and baby potatoes, with a dark green leafy salad
- Option 1: Dried seaweed snack, small handful of peanuts
- Option 2: Apple slices with peanut or other nut butter
- Option 3: “Bruschetta”: slice of tomato on whole grain bread, basil (dried or fresh), olive oil drizzle, shredded mozzarella, lightly toasted, sprinkle of iodized salt
- Option 4: Baby carrots, whole grain crackers and hummus
- Option 5: “Creamsicle smoothie”: low-fat Greek yogurt blended with frozen mangos or peaches
*Pregnant women should eat no more than 6 ounces of high mercury fish per week
For more on this topic, check out the following articles and recipes: