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4 Foods Breast-Feeding Moms Should Include in Their Diets

4 Foods Breast-Feeding Moms Should Include in Their Diets


   
Key nutrients moms should eat when breast-feeding
    

When you are breast-feeding, eating well is vitally important. Nutrients get passed through your breast milk to your baby, and eating a nutrient-rich diet means you’re passing on lots of good stuff to your little one, too.

Eating a well-balanced diet including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein is the best advice for meeting you and your baby’s needs. While there is no blueprint for a perfect breast-feeding diet, aim to take in an extra 300-500 calories per day to help fuel production of and provide nutritious breast milk to your baby while still meeting your own calorie needs.

That said, there are a few standout super foods that go a long way in providing your baby with the most nutritious breast milk possible. The specific nutrients in certain foods, plus a few vital vitamins and minerals in this list are essential to infant development and can easily be added to your diet.

For breast-feeding Moms, add these four super foods to your plate:
     

Salmon

Salmon is chock full of DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid that plays a huge role in your baby’s developing nervous system. Even though there are plenty of plant-based sources of omega-3 such as flax or chia seeds, they don’t provide DHA, which benefits your baby’s visual acuity and brain development.

Salmon and other fatty fish are your best bet for getting lots of DHA, but there is a catch. Fish is frequently a concern for pregnant and breast-feeding moms because of high mercury levels. That’s why I recommend wild-caught salmon. Unlike other fish high in DHA such as swordfish or mackerel, salmon contains low mercury levels and is packed with the protein and DHA, which both you and your baby need.
    

Lentils

Not only are lentils a prime source of fiber and protein, they’re also high in minerals that are important for your baby’s development. Lentils are a great source of folic acid, which is crucial to your baby’s development in early pregnancy and as an infant. Lentils and other legumes are also great sources of iron. Your baby is born with enough iron stored to get through the first 6 months, but you may be iron deficient after pregnancy, so adding a food that’s rich in protein, folic acid, and iron is a win-win.
     



Dark Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are bursting with vitamin A, which is important for your baby’s vision and bone growth. Since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, it is accumulated and passed to the baby directly through breast milk. Leafy greens are also rich in vitamin C and iron, which work together to increase iron absorption during digestion.
     

Yogurt

Yogurt is not only full of protein; it’s also a great source of probiotics and calcium. Passing along healthy bacteria from your body through breast milk can help strengthen your baby’s immune system. Probiotics help shape your gut bacteria to help you and your baby’s immune system flourish.

Getting enough calcium is essential during breast-feeding. Growing babies have increased needs for calcium, which is drawn from your bones. This means if you’re not getting enough calcium every single day, you risk weakening your own bones during breast-feeding to ensure baby gets hers. If you’re not eating heaps of yogurt (just be sure to be mindful of the amount of sugar it may contain) and other calcium-rich foods every day while breast-feeding, it may be smart to take a supplement.


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Danielle Omar, M.S., R.D.N.

Author:

Danielle Omar, M.S., R.D.N., is an integrative dietitian, nutrition consultant for Cal-EZ, and founder of FoodConfidence.com, where busy people find the path to confidently manage their health and how they eat. Her online group wellness program, Nourish: 21 Days of Clean Eating, is a repeat hit.

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