Many breastfeeding moms often wonder if the foods they eat will affect their breast milk. The answer is yes! All the nutrients, fats, carbohydrates, proteins, flavors, aromas from the food consumed by the lactating mother, does pass to the baby through breast milk. You don’t need to ‘eat for two’, but you need to eat right. A breastfeeding mother needs additional 400 calories to provide sufficient nutrition via breastfeed, for the baby’s healthy growth and development.
So, here are 25 best foods for breastfeeding that can make it a win-win for you and your baby by providing necessary nourishment, energy, and which will also increase the breast milk supply to meet the feeding demands of the baby.
What are the Best Foods for Breastfeeding?
Best food for feeding mothers is the one which is balanced with all the nutrients. The foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins and essential fatty acids make the best food for breastfeeding. Here is the list of foods good for breastfeeding:
Avocados are nutritional powerhouse, hence providing essential calories and a feeling of fullness to the breastfeeding mothers. It is a galactagogue that helps secrete oxytocin which increases the supply of breastmilk. Avocados have 80% heart-healthy fats, potassium, folate and vitamins like B, K, C, E.
Nuts have a high content of essential minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamins like K and B. They are lactogenic and a good source of essential fatty acids. Nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts, and macadamia nuts are known to promote breast milk production. Almonds are rich in linolenic acid 3 fatty acids which easily transfer to the breast milk, also it adds taste and aroma to the breast milk.
Beans are rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and phytoestrogens. Chickpeas and soybeans have the highest phytoestrogens. Kidney beans, black and pinto beans are rich in fiber, proteins and iron contents. The breastfeeding mother can sometimes feel gassy due to bean consumption but it does not cause gasses in the baby.
Mushrooms have lactogenic effects in the breastfeeding mother’s body. Also mushrooms are a good source of polysaccharide: beta glucan. Mushrooms are known as the meat of vegetarians as they are rich in proteins. Also rich in potassium, and B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, mushrooms help protect the heart health.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables have phytoestrogens that boost milk production. Spinach, kale, lettuce, amaranth, cabbage, dill leaves and fenugreek are excellent foods for breastfeeding mothers. Green leafy vegetables are fiber rich vitamin sources of vitamins like A, E, B, C and minerals like zinc, selenium and potassium.
Milk is a rich source of calcium and facts. It is an excellent source of nutrients, protein, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, choline and vitamins like A, B1, B2, B12, and D. Vitamin D boosts bone development and strength. The benefits of milk can also be consumed through the intake of milk products like paneer and ghee. Paneer during breastfeeding provides high energy needed by the new mother, keeps you fuller and is easy to digest.
If someone is lactose intolerant, yogurt is the best replacement for the milk, as yogurt is low in lactose content. You can eat curd during breastfeeding as it is easy to digest, and also the bacteria in yogurt boost overall digestion, hence can solve issues like bloating, gas and colics. As it is formed through the fermentation process, the easy digestion results in quick absorption of all the nutrients in the yogurt.
Including cheese in the list of best foods for breastfeeding enhances the nutritional quotient of the postpartum diet. Being an excellent source of calcium, cheese refills the calcium reservoirs of the breastfeeding mother. Cheese is also a good source of vitamin D.
Eggs make the best food for breastfeeding mothers. As they are packed with nutrients like folate, vitamin D, iodine, selenium, choline and omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs boost the baby’ immune system. IgE and IgG immunoglobulins are passed through the lactating mother to the baby, when the mother consumes eggs. This develops immunity against allergy and tolerance for eggs in babies. Ovalbumin is found to be in high concentration in the blood of the lactating mother, which helps balance the hormones and enzymes.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, potassium, beta-carotene, and carbohydrates. It promotes oxytocin secretion in breastfeeding mothers, which increases breast milk production. Consumption of sweet potatoes while breastfeeding helps the development of vision, bone, immune system, and cell specialization.
Carrots are a very good lactogenic food for breastfeeding mothers. It provides vitamin A and beta carotene in abundance. Its consumption adds a sweet taste to the milk, which may increase the feed of the baby.
It is filling, easily digestible and high in energy food for feeding mothers. It helps maintain hormonal balance in the lactating mother. Consuming overnight soaked rice helps increase the breast milk supply.
It is an excellent galactagogue as it promotes prolactin secretion in the lactating mother. Oatmeal also helps maintain the skin moisturized from within.
Spinach is the best source of iron. Iron is extremely important for a breastfeeding mother as it encourages the neurological development of the baby, and builds hemoglobin. The required iron consumption during pregnancy is 27 milligrams (mg) per day, in breastfeeding women it is 10 mg per day.
Pumpkin seeds are high in iron, proteins and fibers. Its consumption boosts nerve and brain cell development of the baby. One ounce of pumpkin seeds meet half of the daily requirement of iron in nursing mothers.
Whole wheat pasta
It is a good source of fiber, minerals and vitamin B. Whole wheat pasta helps maintain blood sugar levels steady, enhances digestion, and keeps the lactating mother feel fuller for a long time. Brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and oatmeal are all complex carbohydrates, which keep you feeling full, and prevent the energy dips produced with refined carbohydrates.
Meat soup or boiled meat is an excellent food for breastfeeding mothers. Red meat provides Vitamin B12, proteins, calcium, zinc, and iron. Beef is a rich source of zinc, mutton is packed with health promoting nutrients, and chicken is an excellent source of vitamin B12. One 3.5 ounce serving of roasted chicken contains 0.32 micrograms of vitamin B12,3 or 11% of the required daily need of the breastfeeding mother.
Peanut consumption by a lactating mother builds a baby’s immunity against allergies in later life. It is rich in folic acid or vitamin B9 necessary for the growth of muscle and nervous tissues in the baby.
These are high in omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, proteins and fibers. Chia seeds help you feel fuller longer after a meal. It also adds a pleasant flavor to the breast milk.
These are good sources of many vitamins and minerals, but especially enriched with iron, zinc and omega 3s and 6s. Hemp seeds contain all of the essential amino acids in perfect proportions needed by the human body.
These have estrogenic properties which increase breast milk production. It increases the ALA content of breastmilk, as flaxseeds are packed with essential fatty acids. Consuming whole flaxseeds is more profitable than ground flaxseeds when it comes to foods for feeding mothers.
An ayurvedic medicine known for its antibacterial, and antiinflammatory properties, turmeric helps prevent formation of swollen breast tissues, reduce breast inflammation, and prevents clogging of mammary glands. It helps relieve any discomfort due to swollen breasts and makes breastfeeding easy. Its consumption helps heel sore and chapped nipples. Turmeric is also a galactagogue, promoting breast milk secretion. It is also used for the treatment of mastitis, breast engorgement, and boost immunity of the breastfed baby.
It helps a new-mother heal from childbirth. It’s a galactagogue, stimulating milk production. It gives a nice aroma to breast milk. Ginger is rich in antioxidants, hence helping promote immune build up. If a woman has had a lot of blood loss during delivery, she should avoid ginger consumption during the initial breastfeeding months.
It is an excellent lactogenic food for breastfeeding mothers. The high antioxidant content boosts immunity. Its smell, when transferred to breast milk, makes the infant consume more milk. Babies sometimes nurse longer if they like the aroma of garlic.
It is rich in vitamin A and K, and is proven to promote breast milk production. It boosts secretion of hormones: oxytocin and prolactin, which are important for a lactating mother. It is the vital and best food for the breastfeeding mother.
Including these best foods for breastfeeding improves the quality and the quantity of the breast milk for healthy growth and development of the baby.
Foods to avoid while breastfeeding
Certain foods should be consumed in moderation while breastfeeding. As, some foods for feeding mothers can have adverse and harmful effects on the baby:
Excessive consumption of caffeine through tea, coffee, and caffeinated beverages adversely affects the baby’s sleep. The baby may get irritable, sleepless, or drowsy if the nursing mother consumes more caffeine. Limiting or avoiding caffeine completely is the safest option while breastfeeding.
Alcohol is easily passed through the breast milk to the baby. Each time you consume alcohol, you should strictly wait for at least 2 hours for breastfeeding the baby. Alcohol in the infants may lead to drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness, and decreased linear growth of the baby.
Parsley and peppermint
Parsley can curb lactation and peppermint may reduce breast milk output. When struggling to increase breast milk production, avoid consumption of these foods during breastfeeding.
Highly processed foods
These are high in unhealthy fats, and added sugars, and low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Frequent exposure to unhealthy fats, sugary foods in infancy may lead to unhealthy eating habits and obesity in early childhood.
It is better to avoid any food that can be harmful while breastfeeding. Alcohol consumption should be completely banned during pregnancy and lactation period. Thus, choosing the best food for breastfeeding that promotes baby’s growth and development, is a wise decision.
Tips for healthy breastfeeding
Consuming a nutrient-rich diet helps your body heal post-delivery and keeps you healthy, which in turn helps you produce enough milk to feed your baby on time. Here are some tips to keep in mind along with the list of best food for breastfeeding:
Eat at short regular intervals
Your baby feeds many times a day and to keep up with this increased demand, your body needs extra energy. When breastfeeding, eat at least 3 nutritious meals every day, interspersed with two to three light snacks such as porridges, soups, healthy salads, and dry fruits or nuts.
Stick to fresh, home-cooked food
The quality of the food that you eat has a direct impact on your baby when you breastfeed. So, ensure that what you consume is safe and contamination-free. Pick local, seasonal, and organic products where possible.
Limit sugar, fat, and spice intake
High fat and high sugar foods can cause weight gain, so consume them in moderate amounts. Stay away from caffeine, aerated beverages, and alcohol. Also avoid foodstuffs rich in spices and oil, as they can be difficult to digest, causing uneasiness to you and your baby.
Avoid the intake of alcohol
Avoid the intake of alcohol as no amount of alcohol is considered safe for the baby
Use nipple butter
Breastfeeding can be difficult with sore nipples. Using a good natural nipple butter helps you combat sore nipples and breastfeed the baby with ease.
The Moms Co recommends using the best nipple butter:
NATURAL NIPPLE BUTTER
Natural Nipple Butter is a Lanolin-Free and Fragrance-Free combination of oils and waxes that help soothe sore and cracked nipples. Made with completely safe and natural ingredients, you’ll never need to worry about washing before breastfeeding your baby.
Do I need extra calories while breastfeeding?
Yes, your body needs an additional 400 calories when you are breastfeeding. These additional calories provide you with the energy needed post pregnancy and keeps you and the baby healthy and active.
Do eggs increase breast milk?
High protein diet is essential for increased production of breastmilk, and eggs rich sources of protein. Hence consuming eggs while breastfeeding will increase breast milk. In fact eggs make the best food for breastfeeding mothers.
Is Potato good for nursing mothers?
Yes, potatoes and sweet potatoes are excellent for nursing mothers. They are
rich source of energy, minerals like iron, calcium, vitamin C, and potassium. Potatoes contain soluble fiber which help to prevent constipation in new mothers.
Consuming the best foods for breastfeeding will increase the breast milk supply which helps meet the baby’s demands. Best foods for feeding mothers along with increasing the active energy, provides all the nourishment needed for the health of the baby and the lactating mother.