As a breast-feeding mother, chances are you’ve been hearing all kinds of advice about what to eat and drink – and what not to eat and drink. Here are my common sense rules to take the mystery out of it and give you the confidence to enjoy a varied diet while you breast feed.
Common sense rule #1
– your baby is drinking 24-48 oz. of fluid a day, so you need to take in that much more water than you need for your own health. It doesn’t take milk to make milk (adult cows make plenty, but don’t drink any!), but it does take liquid. You probably know by now that water, juice, and milk are good sources of fluids. But caffeinated beverages actually deplete your body of water. If you are used to using them, cut down to only one or two glasses a day. As you choose healthier drinks, you will find you no longer crave – or even really like – the caffeine flavor (or artificial energy) so much.
Your body is pretty good at telling you when you need to drink if you pay attention to it. You’ll probably find that while you are breastfeeding your mouth starts to feel dry. Keep a big mug of water at your ‘breast feeding station’ and start each feeding with a big drink of water. Then have some more during and afterwards as your body suggests. You can drink water or juice between feedings whenever you think of it, too. But stay away from using soft drinks and alcohol on a regular basis – neither of them is healthy for you or the baby.
Common sense rule #2
– Your baby is taking in 200-500 calories a day, so you need to take in that many more calories than you use yourself. Just remember that it isn’t just calories baby needs, he or she needs vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates too. Your body will sacrifice its own health to make good milk for the baby, so keep yourself healthy by learning and practicing good nutrition. It’s often a good idea to keep taking your prenatal vitamins for as long as you breast feed.
Common sense rule #3
– Whatever is dissolved in your bloodstream will be passed into baby’s milk supply. That means if you eat chocolate, baby will be drinking chocolate metabolites. I used to be able smell it on my babies – it doesn’t smell like chocolate really, but does have a distinctive odor!
If you take medication, baby will be getting some drugs too. When I was badly injured and was taking pain medication, my breastfeeding baby got really sleepy! (I had to pump and dump my milk until I could get off the really strong stuff.)
If you eat hot, spicy food, baby will be getting some spicy capsasin in his milk, too. Will that upset his stomach?
Well, if somebody told you to avoid things like chocolate, spices, and broccoli while you were carrying the baby and you did, the answer is probably yes. You haven’t gotten him (or her – all my babies were boys!) used to their metabolites. Then your baby may react unfavorably if you decide to indulge yourself once the baby is born!
But here is the good news about planning a breast feeding diet. If you have been eating your favorite foods without any problems right through your pregnancy, your baby will be used to them because s/he has been exposed to them for months now. They should not give your baby any particular upsets.
Either way, if baby seems to become gassy or have unusual stools whenever you eat certain foods, you would be well advised to avoid them for at least a few weeks and then try introducing them again in smaller ‘doses.’
And that’s just common sense for a happy and healthy mom and baby breast feeding experience!