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What should my diet be while I’m breastfeeding?

chicken kebab with cherry tomatoes

Key points:

  1. There’s no need for a “perfect” diet. Avoid low-calorie diets, as breastfeeding requires extra energy for milk production. Focus on finding a nutritional balance that supports you and your baby’s needs.
  2. There are no specific foods that must be avoided while breastfeeding. However, certain foods might cause your baby some discomfort like gas or colic. Pay attention to how they react to what you eat, and consult your doctor if you see persistent discomfort.
  3. Consuming alcohol is not recommended, but you can have a drink as long as you wait out the necessary period of time for the alcohol to leave your body. Fish consumption is generally safe, except for fish high in mercury (e.g., shark, swordfish) which should be avoided. Caffeine intake is okay in moderation—up to two or three servings.

During breastfeeding, it’s important to take care of our diet and eat a variety of nutritious foods. However, is following a special diet necessary?

According to nutrition experts, a perfect diet is not required. You just need to find a nutritional balance that helps you and your baby get the necessary nutrients. Likewise, don’t try a low-calorie diet; you will need lots of energy to produce milk. In fact, one of the benefits of breastfeeding is that it can help women lose the weight gained during pregnancy! Furthermore, following a good diet will help you produce more milk and feel good when nursing.

You are probably wondering if there are any food restrictions -and luckily, there are no forbidden foods! However, each baby is different and what affects your little one may not affect others. It is widely known that the foods that cause more discomfort are gas producers, such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and others, including food that affects the flavor of milk, like garlic, onions, and some spices. You don’t have to avoid the consumption of these foods, just pay attention to what you eat and if you notice a pattern of cramping, gas, or some discomfort in your baby that doesn’t stop, consult your pediatrician. He or she will most likely recommend avoiding the consumption of certain foods to see if any changes occur. With this in mind, you will be able to verify your baby’s reactions when you eat specific foods.

You may also have heard that you cannot eat fish during lactation. Do not worry about it. The healthy benefits of fish consumption outweigh the risks. Just try not to eat fish on a daily basis and be careful with fish that are rich in mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. If you consume them habitually, you should eliminate them from your diet during and even after breastfeeding. However, any other fish low on mercury can be included in your diet.

After nine months of not drinking any alcohol, you probably want to know if you are allowed to drink while breastfeeding. While the safest option is to avoid drinking altogether, having a drink is okay, as long as you wait the necessary period of time to breastfeed. Keep in mind that, the more you drink, the longer it will take for alcohol to leave your body, so try to make healthy choices. Alcohol can be found in breastmilk around 30 to 60 minutes after one drink. Consider that if you have one drink, it will take up to 2-3 hours for it to leave your system. Alcohol from 1 drink can be detected in breast milk for about 2-3 hours, 2 drinks can be detected for about 4-5 hours, 3 drinks can be detected for about 6-8 hours, and so on. If you’re planning on drinking, it can be useful to have some stored milk in case you need to wait out a long period of time.

What about caffeine consumption? There is no problem at all! As long as you consume it in moderation, it’s fine. You can enjoy your daily coffee, tea, or soft drink occasionally. Just as long as you limit your caffeine intake to no more than two or three servings, you and your baby will be fine!

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