To meet your extra energy needs and support the healthy growth of your breastfed baby, you need to consume between 300-500 additional calories per day.
In addition to the calories, these essential nutrients listed below are needed to help you and your baby thrive. They’re found in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, dairy products, and lean meats.
Calcium builds strong bones and teeth and plays an important role in the healthy functioning of the circulatory and muscular systems. Breastfeeding women should get about 1,000 mg of calcium each day. Good sources of calcium include dairy, cereals, and spinach.
Eating adequate carbohydrates helps provide energy to support the growth and development of the baby during breastfeeding. The best sources of carbohydrates are whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
This is a nutrient that can ease constipation after birth. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes (beans, split peas).
This helps in the healthy development of a baby’s brain and spinal cord. It’s also needed to make red blood cells and white blood cells. Taking 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid daily during breastfeeding allows for the full development of the neural tubes. Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and nuts are good sources of folic acid. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about supplements if you are not sure you get enough of folic acid through your diet.
Unsaturated fats are used to fuel a baby’s growth and development. They are especially important for the development of the brain and nervous system, as they are used in the formation of myelin sheaths. Healthy fats are found in olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, and salmon.
Iodine is used by the body’s thyroid gland to make hormones that help with growth and brain development. Use iodized salt in your cooking and eat foods high in iodine, such as seafood and dairy products.
To prevent iron deficiency anemia while breastfeeding, eat food rich in iron or take iron supplements. If you don’t get enough iron, you may easily feel tired and will be more susceptible to infections. Good dietary sources of iron include lean meats, fortified cereals, legumes (beans, split peas), and leafy green vegetables.
This helps build your baby’s muscles, bones, and other tissues. Good sources of protein include poultry, fish, beans, peanut butter, eggs, and tofu.
Vitamin A aids in the development of your baby’s heart, eyes, and immune system. Good natural sources of vitamin A include milk, citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, and vegetables, such as cantaloupe, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
This vitamin helps in the formation of your baby’s red blood cells, breaks down protein, fat, and carbohydrates. It is also needed for normal brain development and function. You get vitamin B6 from poultry, fish, whole grains, fortified cereals, and bananas.
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the formation of your baby’s red blood cells, as well as brain development. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products like meat and eggs. Speak with your doctor about taking a B12 supplement while breastfeeding if you don’t eat animal products.
This plays an important role in tissue growth and repair, as well as in bone and tooth development. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron. Citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, and fortified fruit juices are good sources of the vitamin.
Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium which is necessary for the development of healthy bones and teeth. The best source is sunshine, but some other good sources of vitamin D include fortified almond milk, fortified orange juice, egg yolks, and salmon.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat (OB-GYN) (17 November 2021)