An Introduction to a Healthy Breastfeeding Diet

How to maintain a healthy natural lactation diet

The food you consume is broken down by your body and then passed along to your baby through your breast milk. Breastfeeding your baby is of course the healthiest, most natural choice for those mothers who are able to do so, but if you want to make it as healthy and safe as can be, you’ll want to think about your lactation diet. This article will provide you with an overview to a healthy breastfeeding diet and explain which foods you should be avoiding while breastfeeding.

 

Developing a healthy breastfeeding diet

To begin, here are some things you can do to increase the nutritional value and safety of your breast milk for your baby (and you’ll feel healthier, too!).

  • Organic, natural diet: If you’re looking for foods to eat while breastfeeding, try eating a diet that is high in fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains, and consume as much Certified Organic options as possible. Be sure, in particular, to avoid the dirty dozen fruits and veggies that have the highest levels of pesticides.
  • Eat further down the food chain: A diet of plant-based proteins and fats instead of animal ones is good for the environment and healthier for you since it’s lower in saturated fat, higher in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and so on. Here is a good guide for eating vegetarian while breastfeeding.
  • Consume adequate calories: Losing weight may be a noble goal, but you should aim for slow, steady weight loss. In particular, if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need to consume 200 to 500 calories more than a non-breastfeeding mom for a total somewhere between 2,000 and 2,700 daily calories.
  • Safe seafood: Seafood can be highly healthy as it contains important omega fatty acids, but it can also be contaminated with unhealthy substances. Stay away from tuna, shark, and swordfish as these are likely to be high in mercury and PCBs. Follow these steps to choosing safer seafood while breastfeeding.

 

Foods to avoid while breastfeeding

Further boost the benefits of your breast milk by staying away from some contaminants that may be less than healthy for you, your baby, and the planet.

  • Don’t smoke: If you’re a smoker, quit now and make a commitment to never restart. Mothers who smoke generally wean their children earlier, have lower milk production and inhibited milk ejection.[1]
  • Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol: Alcohol and caffeine can be passed along to the mother’s milk and may affect your baby’s health if consumed to excess.[2][3]
  • No dry cleaning: Don’t wear or come in contact with clothing that has been dry cleaned recently as the chemical (usually tetrachloroethylene, otherwise known as perchloroethylene, PCE, perc, tetrachloroethene, perclene, and perchlor) used  in dry cleaning can be harmful to you and your baby.[4]
  • Avoid toxic products: Don’t use chemicals in your landscaping designs, such as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides (check out these natural landscaping alternatives). Also try to stay away from products with strong fumes such as paints, varnishes, adhesives, and so on. Follow the general rules to maintain healthy indoor air quality and you’ll be safe.





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References

1 Is it safe for a smoker to breastfeed her baby? What about using the nicotine patch and other smoking cessation aids? (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2010, from La Leche League: http://www.llli.org/FAQ/smoking.html

2 What about drinking alcohol and breastfeeding? (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2010, from La Leche League: http://www.llli.org/FAQ/alcohol.html

3 Caffeine and the nursing mom. (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2010, from Baby Centre: http://www.babycenter.com/0_caffeine-and-the-nursing-mom_4488.bc

4 Is it safe to be exposed to dry-cleaning chemicals during pregnancy? (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2010, from Baby Centre: http://www.babycentre.co.uk/pregnancy/isitsafeto/drycleaningexpert/

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