Newborns Breastfeeding Diet

Most women can breastfeed. While some physical conditions may be a deterrent to breastfeeding, your doctor can tell you if they will prevent you from breastfeeding. Some women feel shy about breastfeeding in public. Regardless of these situations, most women are capable of breastfeeding and providing their babies with a nutritious diet.

Eating for Two

While a balanced diet is optimal, even women whose diets are less than perfect can produce good milk. Mothers should get enough calories to produce sufficient milk to feed their babies.

A normal diet between 2,000 and 2,500 calories should be supplemented with at least another 600 calories to support the feeding of your baby. The best calories are those that have nutritional value. In other words, a 300-calorie doughnut is no substitute for a healthy snack like an apple and some peanut butter. Sweets and snacks are high in empty calories. Healthy snacks supply the body with vitamins and minerals.

The Importance of Calcium

Calcium is an important part of nutrition for the breastfeeding mother. Babies have a high demand for calcium and draw it from the mother. If the mother’s calcium intake is low, the baby still draws calcium from the mother’s supply. The decreased levels of calcium in the mother can lead to future health problems like tooth decay or osteoporosis, a bone condition that makes the bones soft and brittle. Adding calcium to the diet through dairy products, green leafy vegetables or supplements reduces the risk of calcium deficiencies and bone loss.

Some women are unable to get enough nutritious dairy products in their diet because of a condition known as lactose intolerance. Lactose is an enzyme in milk that some individuals cannot digest easily. However a number of different options are now available for women with lactose intolerance.

Colic

A mother’s consumption of dairy products may affect her breastfeeding baby. Babies can develop stomachaches if too much strain is placed on their digestive systems. Babies who have periods of unexplained crankiness or irritability are said to have colic. Ingestion of certain foods by the mother, such as garlic, onions, cabbage, chocolate or beans may contribute to colic. Limiting the caffeine found in coffees, teas and sodas can decrease the risk of stomach discomfort in the breastfeeding baby.

Supplementing a Nutritious Diet

Most obstetric gynecologists and pediatricians recommend that women continue taking prenatal vitamins for added nutrition while they’re breastfeeding. Some women require supplemental iron for pregnancy-induced anemia. Vegetarians should supplement their diets with vitamin B12, a vitamin necessary for cell division and blood formation. Dairy, meat and eggs are good dietary sources of vitamin B12.

Harmful Effects of Drugs, Cigarettes and Alcohol

Drugs can be passed to the baby through the mother’s milk during breastfeeding just as vitamins and minerals are. Doctors should be aware of all prescription drugs that a mother is taking.

Women who are breastfeeding their babies should not drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or take illegal drugs. These drugs can be passed on to the baby and cause significant disabilities. Cigarette smoking may also inhibit the production of breast milk. The World Health Organization (WHO) Working Group on Human Lactation considers even aspirin unsafe because of the potential accumulation in the baby’s bloodstream.

If a breastfeeding mother has any doubt about the safety of any foods or chemicals she should consult her physician.<

Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians. (updated 2003). Breast feeding: Hints to help you get off to a good start.

American Academy of Pediatrics. (updated 2004). A woman’s guide to breastfeeding